Celtics draft primer: Big men


Celtics draft primer: Big men

By A.Sherrod Blakely

With the NBA becoming more guard-oriented, there's a very good chance that a number of the quality big men will slip down a few spots in next month's NBA draft.

For the Boston Celtics, that's a very good thing when you consider one of the C's biggest needs is to add more depth in the frontcourt.

With the return of the O'Neal "brothers" -- Jermaine and Shaquille -- next season very much up in the air, the C's will look to fortify its center position in the offseason.

The Celtics' preference will be to do it via free agency, but Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has never been one to rule out any scenario if it could possibly help the C's.

Which is why the Celtics will indeed give some thought to adding a big man in this year's draft, even though all indications are that there are very few high-impact players at the power forward or center position.

Here we'll take a look at some of the top big men in next month's draft, which includes possible targets for the Celtics with the No. 25 pick, in bold.


Jonas Valanciunas, 6-11, C, Lithuania

By the numbers: 7.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 0.6 blocks per game

Strengths: Excellent pick-and-roll finisher around the basket; has a wide frame that will allow him to carry more weight without affecting his mobility; does nice job offensive rebounding.

Weaknesses: Picks up fouls too quickly. Does not have great or even average foot speed for an NBA center. Low post game has very little variety to it.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)


Bismark Biyombo, 6-9, FC, Democratic Republic of Congo

By the numbers: 6.4 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

Strengths: Impressive shot-blocker, courtesy of a freakishly long 7-7 wingspan. Does a good job of attacking the offensive boards. Plays with great energy.

Weaknesses: Inexperience; doesn't have a go-to move offensively, relies primarily on put-backs and dunks; listed as 18 years old, there are concerns about his age.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)


Enes Kanter, 6-10, C, Turkey

By the numbers: Averaged more than 30 points and a double-double in his one season (2009-2010) at Stoneridge Prep in Simi Valley, Calf.

Strengths:Very talented big man with size, strength and intelligence to play the role of difference-maker. Better than average free-throw shooter.

Weaknesses: Talented, but just 18 years old. He has had some knee injuries that may impact how long he stays on the board.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)


Tristan Thompson, 6-9, F, Texas

By the numbers: 13.1 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocked shots per game

Strengths: Has good hands and does a nice job of finishing around the basket. Long wingspan allows him to be a good weak-side defender.

Weaknesses:Undersized to play power forward in the NBA, spends too much time around the basket. Horrible free throw shooter; jumper needs a lot of work.

Projected draft status: Middle of first round


Markieff Morris, 6-10, PF, Kansas

By the numbers: 13.6 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.1 blocks per game

Strengths: Has an NBA-ready body. Has good range on his shot, making him an ideal pick-and-pop player. Good finisher around the rim.

Weaknesses: His mid-range touch is still a work in progress. Very little versatility to his around-the-basket game.

Projected draft status: Middle to late first round


Donatas Motiejunas, 7-0, PF, Lithuania

By the numbers: 13.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game

Strengths: Lefty can handle the ball extremely well for a player of his size. Can score from the perimeter as well as around the basket. Decent lateral quickness.

Weaknesses: Doesn't always play hard as he should. Needs to add strength.

Projected draft status: First round pick


Kenneth Faried, 6-8, F, Morehead State

By the numbers: 17.3 points, 14.5 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

Strengths: Incredible rebounder at the college level. He has great timing on his jump, and exceptional instincts. He's a high energy player.

Weaknesses: Undersized to play power forward in the NBA. Post-game needs work. Has no real perimeter-shooting touch.

Projected draft status: Middle to late first round


Jordan Williams, 6-10, F, Maryland

By the numbers: 16.9 points, 11.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game

Strengths: Has a nice touch around the basket. Does a good job of getting position and holding it as a rebounder. Above-average athleticism for his size.

Weaknesses: Conditioning remains a concern. Offensive-game is still a work in progress. Still learning how to create space when tightly defended by a bigger player.

Projected draft status: Late first round to early second


Willie Reed, 6-10, F, St. Louis

By the numbers: 12.4 points, 7.9 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game

Strengths: One of the more athletic players in this year's draft; has the potential to be excellent help-side defender.

Weaknesses: Needs to develop a mid-range game. Needs to add strength. Poor free throw shooter.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second


Justin Harper, 6-10, PF, Richmond

By the numbers: 17.9 points, 6.9 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game

Strengths: A "stretch 4," already has NBA 3-point range. He's another solid pick-and-pop big man. Better-than-average ball handler for his position.

Weaknesses: Needs to add more muscle to his lithe frame; doesn't use length enough in the post; usual concerns with being a mid-major player coming to the NBA.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second

Trey Thompkins, 6-10, F, Georgia

By the numbers: 16.4 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.7 blocks per game

Strengths: Big man with a nice pick-and-pop game; high basketball IQ; excellent footwork in the post, playing off the ball.

Weaknesses: Not a great shot-blocker despite impressive wingspan and basketball smarts; passing could use some improvement; lateral quickness may be an issue.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second


JaJuan Johnson, 6-10, Purdue

By the numbers: 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game

Strengths: Runs the floor well; finishes in transition around the basket and above the rim; great timing defensively in terms of blocking shots.

Weaknesses: Pushed around too easily because of lack of strength and weight; limited offensive game.

Projected draft status: Late first round, early second

A. Sherrod Blakely can be reached atsblakely@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Sherrod on Twitter at http:twitter.comsherrodbcsn

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

Young understands work isn't done after claiming Celtics final roster spot

WALTHAM, Mass. – For so many years the game of basketball came easy – almost too easy – for James Young.

He stood out on a young Kentucky team that played at the highest levels, delivering the kind of performances as an 18-year-old college freshman that catapulted him into the first round of the NBA draft.

To be so young and already having achieved a childhood dream, to be in the NBA, Young was too young to realize how quickly the dream could become a nightmare if he didn't put in the necessary work.

The past couple of weeks have not been easy for Young, aware that the Celtics were torn as to whether they should keep him around this season or waive him.

They choose the former and instead waived his now-ex teammate R.J. Hunter, on Hunter’s 23rd birthday no less.

One of the first acts Young said he planned to do following Monday's practice was to reach out to Hunter, offer words of encouragement to a player he looked upon as a brother, a brother who is in a state of basketball limbo right now which could have easily been the latest chapter in James Young’s basketball narrative.

And that’s why as happy as Young is to still be donning the Green and White, his work towards proving himself to this team, to this franchise is far from done.

You listen to veterans like Jae Crowder, a second-round pick who has come up the hard way in the NBA, they speak of how Young now takes the game more serious.

Even Young acknowledged that he didn’t take the NBA game and the need to work at staying in the league as serious as he should have initially.

“I wasn’t playing as hard (early on),” Young admitted. “I just was satisfied being where I was, being too comfortable. My confidence was down. I have to change that around.”

Crowder, a straight-no-chaser kind of fellow, said as much when I asked him about the changes he has seen in Young.

“He’s taking stuff a little more serious,” Crowder said. “It’s growing up. He came in as a first-round draft pick and was on the borderline of getting cut. I don’t know what else is going to wake you up.”

That’s part of what made this decision so difficult and on some levels, left players with mixed emotions about the decision.

For those of us who followed this team through training camp, there was no question that Young had the better camp.

But the one thing that was never questioned with Hunter, was his work ethic. He made his share of mistakes and missed more shots than a player with a sharpshooter's reputation should, but you never got a sense it had anything to do with him not working as hard as he needed to.

That was among the more notable issues with Young who came into the league as an 18-year-old. That youth probably worked for him as opposed to Hunter who played three years of college basketball and was expected to be seemingly more NBA-ready.

Even though Hunter’s NBA future is on uncertain ground now, he’s too young and too talented to not get at least one more crack with an NBA team.

And by Boston waiving him, he really does become a low-risk, high-reward prospect that an NBA team might want to take a closer look at with their club. 

And Young remains a Celtic, doing all that he can to climb up the pecking order which now has him as the clear-cut 15th man on the roster.

He might see more minutes than rookie Demetrius Jackson and possibly second-year forward Jordan Mickey, but Young’s future with the Boston Celtics is still on relatively thin ice.

“I told him this morning, this might be the first time he’s earned anything in his life,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations.  “He earned this by his play, day-in and day-out. He was given a lot as a young kid with a lot of promise, a lot of potential. We talked about earlier this summer, he had to come out and win a spot with some good competition and he did. He needs to keep doing what he’s doing.”

More than anything else, Young has been consistent in his effort, overall energy and attention to detail. But it remains to be seen if Young has done all that to just secure a roster spot, or has he truly grown up and figured out what has to be done in order to be an NBA player.

Celtics break ground on new practice facility


Celtics break ground on new practice facility

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- When it comes to finding ways to attract the best talent, colleges and universities often seek to upgrade their training facilities as an enticement to prospective players.
So why should it be any different at the pro level?
The Boston Celtics had a groundbreaking ceremony Monday morning for The Auerbach Center at New Balance Headquarters.
“When you think he was hired in 1966 and they’re still honoring him, it’s very humbling,” said Randy Auerbach, Red’s daughter.
New Balance officials echoed similar sentiments about the legendary Red Auerbach, the architect of arguably the greatest dynasty in professional basketball.
“Red Auerbach was a true entrepreneur whose passion for winning and dedication to the sport of basketball and the Boston Celtics was equally matched with his commitment to people and his local community,” said Jim Davis, Chairman and Owner at New Balance.  “New Balance is extremely proud to join with the Boston Celtics in honoring his professional achievements and personal values through ‘Red’s House’ at our Boston world headquarters.”
Celtics president Rich Gotham cited several benefits to moving the team to a state-of-the-art practice facility closer to Boston.
Among the reasons given was the potential for the practice facility to be a potential enticement for free agents.
“Players spend more time in the practice facility than they do in the arena they play in certainly, and maybe more than they do at home,” Gotham said. “So having a place where they feel comfortable, a place where they want to spend time to improve themselves across the board … it’s all coming together in a pretty big way. The best players know it’s integral to their success that make sure that support is there, that infrastructure is there. So when we’re out talking to a player, we’re going to be talking about this practice facility we’re building. Because we do think it’s an important part of our story.”
Some of the features of the new practice facility will include:
·  Two state-of-the-art parquet floor basketball courts where the team will practice
·  Leading edge audio-visual technology throughout the facility
·  Expanded strength and conditioning, training, and recovery facilities
·  Best-in-class locker rooms and players’ lounge
·  Physical therapy areas including hydrotherapy pools
·  Sports science and nutrition facilities
·  Expanded media work room, press conference and broadcast facilities
·  A flexible hospitality area designed for community relations activities, partner gatherings and other guest events
·  Work space for the team’s coaching and basketball front office staffs
While the facility will have all the bells and whistles you would come to expect in a new facility, Gotham said there will be a balance of sorts struck between that and the franchise’s longstanding history.
“What will be clear is it will be … at that intersection of, which is a strange intersection, of innovation but honoring our tradition,” Gotham said. “This will be a building that’s state-of-the-art, moving forward. But at the same time, I think one of the things we’re lucky to have is this treasure trove of great guys who came before us who left great wisdom and great quotes. You can see a lot of that built in. Coach Stevens is big on having motivational phrases around for the guys to see every single day when they come in for practice. If those come from Red Auerbach and Bill Russell, all the better. You’ll see us incorporating those kind of things.”