Draft primer: Tweeners

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Draft primer: Tweeners

By A.Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com

Next month's NBA draft is considered one with very few high-impact, superstar talents. While it's clear that this draft has its share of holes -- pot holes if you're picking near the end of the first round like the Boston Celtics -- there's no doubt the best shot at landing a quality player will likely come by snatching one of the many "tweeners" at the forward position; that is, players whose skillset andor size may result in them seeing time in the NBA at both the small and power forward positions.

You look at the Celtics' roster, 6-foot-9 Jeff Green falls under this category.

His versatility is among the many reasons why Danny Ainge, Boston's president of basketball operations, has made it clear that the Celtics have every intention of re-signing Green during the offseason.

Even if the C's are to re-sign Green, there still exists plenty of areas in need of addressing.

And adding a player with the ability to play both forward positions, for a C's team with plenty of roster spots in need of filling, can't hurt.

Here are some of the top frontcourt "tweeners" in this year's draft, which includes, in bold, players that the Celtics may be in position to land with the No. 25 pick.

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Derrick Williams, 6-foot-9, SFPF, Arizona

By the Numbers: 19.5 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists per game

Strengths: The most NBA-ready player of anyone in this year's draft. Combines the around-the-basket craftiness of a Corliss Williamson, with the shooting touch of a Michael Beasley. Has a wingspan of more than 7-feet, which should allow him to hold his own defensively against taller players in the NBA.

Weaknesses: Does a nice job of scoring around the basket and from deep range, but needs to develop a mid-range game; like most rookies, could benefit from getting stronger, especially if whatever team drafts him decides to play him for stretches at the power forward position.

Projected draft status: Top-5 pick, likely to go No. 1 or 2

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Kawhi Leonard, 6-7, SF, San Diego State

By the Numbers: 15.5 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game

Strengths: Definitely falls under the "high energy" category with his ability to make the intangible plays, such as getting to loose balls, deflecting passes or forcing turnovers by switching out at the last minute defensively on an unsuspecting ball-handler. Has a nice pull-up jumper and with a high release, it becomes extremely difficult to block or for that matter, contest.

Weaknesses: Needs to develop a more consistent perimeter game at the NBA level; has a tendency to gamble too much defensively; his ball-handling skills are suspect.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)

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Jan Vesely, 6-11, SFPF, Czec Republic

By the Numbers: 10.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.3 rebounds per game

Strengths: Exceptional length and athleticism makes him a tough cover whenever he's on the floor. Is not afraid to attack the basket, and yet still has the talent to knock down shots from long range.

Weaknesses: Needs to get stronger, which would help him become a more reliable rebounder. Not a particularly good ball-handler, which could become an issue in the NBA where players at the small forward position often have the ability to take their defender off the dribble. His post-up game has improved, but still needs work.

Projected draft status: Lottery pick (top-14)

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Marcus Morris, 6-9, SFPF, Kansas

By the Numbers: 17.2 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 assists per game

Strengths: Has the potential to score from either forward position in the NBA; Has great footwork around the basket and good form on his jumper.

Weaknesses: Poor free throw shooter (68 percent); might struggle defensively because he doesn't have the athleticism or length of comparable hybrid forwards; one of the few players whose wing span (6-7) measured out shorter than his height (6-9).

Projected draft status: Middle of the First round

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Chris Singleton, 6-9, SFPF, Florida State

By the Numbers: 13.1 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2 steals per game

Strengths: Has great instincts defensively, has the potential to develop into a lock-down type defender in the NBA; Runs the floor well, which leads to easy baskets in transition; explosive athlete who can play above the rim.

Weaknesses: Has improved his shooting, but doesn't have the tools to be a consistent scorer; ball-handling skills need work.

Projected draft status: Middle to late part of first round

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Davis Bertans, 6-10, SF, Latvia

By the Numbers: 6.6 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.7 assists per game. (Combined averages for teams in Latvia and Slovenia.)

Strengths: Has a ridiculously quick release that, at his size, creates a lot of problems for a defense; handles the ball well enough to create his own shot.

Weaknesses: Rail-thin, even for a small forward; lateral quickness makes him a liability defensively; doesn't seem comfortable going to rim either to score or to grab rebounds.

Projected draft status: Late first round

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Tobias Harris, 6-8, SFPF, Tennessee

By the numbers: 15.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game

Strengths: Can score around the basket in a variety of ways; tremendous upside when you consider he won't be 19 until after the draft; long arms should help him defensively.

Weaknesses: Doesn't have a low-post game or the deep ball in his repertoire; too slow to guard most small forwards, not strong enough for most power forwards; weight may become an issue.

Projected draft status: Middle to late-first round

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

Draper: Better financial option for Durant to stay in OKC one more year

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Draper: Better financial option for Durant to stay in OKC one more year

A. Sherrod Blakely and Kyle Draper discuss the chances the Boston Celtics land Kevin Durant, Jimmy Butler or DeMarcus Cousins.

Celtics begin working out draft prospects Wednesday

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Celtics begin working out draft prospects Wednesday

BOSTON – The Celtics’ practice facility will become a basketball port-of-call in the coming weeks as some of the best young talent passes through, all with the goal of doing their best to impress the Celtics’ brass.

Austin Ainge, the Celtics’ director of player personnel, said Boston will begin working out players on Wednesday with the first group consisting of six players - two guards, two forwards and two big men.
 
“We’ll put them through a lot of different situations,” Ainge, who declined to identify the six players working out on Wednesday, told CSNNE.com. “We’ll see how bigs are at guarding guards, and guards defending bigger players, some of the roles they would have to play if they were Celtics…We’ll get a good look at what they can do in a lot of different scenarios.”
 
With eight draft picks [three in the first round and five in the second], the list of players making the rounds will likely be longer than usual.
 
Ainge said he anticipated the Celtics will work out 80-100 players, which is slightly more than they usually do.
 
“With trades, you just never really know,” Ainge said. “So we try to work out players all the way through 60.”
 
Speaking of trades, Ainge anticipates the Celtics will be on the phone more than past years because they have so many picks and, by all indications, do not plan to use them all.
 
If Boston can’t package some of their picks to acquire more talent, the Celtics will look even closer than usual at drafting players from overseas with the intent that they don’t join Boston’s roster for a couple of years.
 
Because Boston has so many picks, you would think they would be in position to be more selective than past years when it came to who they brought in for workouts.
 
“With our picks, it is in a player’s best interest to work out for us,” Ainge acknowledged. “But for us, we want to see as many players as possible so that we can draft the best fit, the best player that’s available.”
 
The draft lottery later on May 17 will determine exactly where the Celtics will be selecting with the pick they acquired as part of the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade with Brooklyn in 2013.
 
Boston acquired three picks as part of the trade. They used the first one to draft James Young two years ago.
 
This past season, Brooklyn (21-61) finished with the third-worst record, which gives Boston a 15.6 percent chance that the Nets pick it receives will be the No. 1 overall selection. 
 
If Boston lands one of the top-two picks, a workout with LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram – the consensus top-two players in this year’s draft – is likely. And if the Celtics wind up with the No. 2 pick, they might work out Dragan Bender who is the top overseas prospect in this year’s draft.
 
In addition to the Brooklyn pick, which will be no worse than the sixth overall selection, Boston has another pair of first-round picks (16th and 23rd overall), along with five second-round picks (31st, 35th, 45th, 51st and 58th), at their disposal.

 

History of third-best odds in NBA draft lottery

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History of third-best odds in NBA draft lottery

The NBA draft lottery is two weeks away, which means only two more weeks of hitting the “sim lottery” button on our computers while we should be doing work.

Since the weighted lottery system was modified before 1994 giving the team with the worst record a 25-percent chance at the No. 1 pick, the worst team has ended up with the No. 1 pick just three times, most recently the 2015 lottery to the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The 25-percent chance, in short, means that out of 1,000 ping pong ball combinations, the worst team going into the lottery has 250 of those combinations. If one of those 250 combinations is pulled, the No. 1 pick goes to that team.

The number of combinations drops per team from worst team in lottery down to the best at No. 14. Since 2005, there are 16 playoff teams and 14 lottery teams. Where the lottery teams rank in record determines how many chances they have at a winning combination. The No. 14 team in the lottery has five chances.

The Boston Celtics go into the lottery holding the Brooklyn Nets’ pick. The Nets finished with the third-worst record this season, giving them 156 combinations, or a 15.6-percent chance at the No. 1 pick.

Combinations are pulled for the top three picks. After that, teams fall into place based on record.

The Celtics have a 46.9-percent chance at landing a Top 3 pick. Picks 1-3 break down virtually equal, at 15.6-percent for the No. 1 seed, 15.6-percent for the No. 2 seed, and 14.7-percent for the No. 3 seed.

Because three teams could leapfrog them (remember, combinations are chosen for just the top three picks), they could fall to as low as the No. 6 seed, but no further. Boston’s chances to land the No. 4 or No. 5 seed actually increase from the first three picks, as they have a 22.6-percent chance at No. 4 and a 26.5-percent chance at No. 5. A No. 6 seed would be extremely unlucky, as there’s just a 4-percent chance at that.

So the question you want to know: How many No. 3 seeds have ended up with the top pick? Since 1994, it’s happened five times, though based on teams with the same record that season, ping pong ball combinations varied. (Example: in 1994, the Bucks were tied with two other teams for the second-worst record, giving them 163 combinations. I included them as one of the five “No. 3 seeds” previously mentioned even though technically they weren’t - it’s close enough.)

The No. 3 seed has never gotten the second pick. It’s gotten the third pick three times, the fourth pick four times, the fifth pick nine times, and the sixth pick once.

Since 2005, the No. 3 lottery team has won the lottery twice (2009, 2013). Let’s take a look at every third-seeded lottery team since then, where there they ended up picking, and who ended up going third in that draft.

Click here for the complete breakdown of each lottery since 2005.