Notes: Rondo thrives against first place Spurs

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Notes: Rondo thrives against first place Spurs

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Rajon Rondo is a big fan of winning. It doesnt matter if the opposing team is 30-0 or 0-30, victory is always the ultimate goal.

But there is a little something extra to a game against a contender like the San Antonio Spurs. On Wednesday, Rondo made sure to bring something extra, too.

He recorded a triple-double (12 points, 22 assists, 10 rebounds) against one of the top point guards in the league. He just couldnt help it.

I like to compete, Rondo said following the Celtics 105-103 win. I've got to respect every opponent, but it's just human nature. I think I get up for some of the best guys that we play against - Tony Parker, D. Rose. I think it's just human nature. But for me, I'm really competitive.

Ray Allen has made over 2,500 three-pointers in the career, but there are still the eyebrow-raising moments when teams leave him open behind the arc.

When the Spurs failed to defend him in the fourth quarter, he buried an open trey to give the Celtics a 101-96 lead with 1:37 to go.

Allen is still surprised to find himself open after thousands of buckets.

Im always surprised any time I get open, especially for 3, he said. But one thing I learned about basketball a long time ago is if I can be in better shape than the guy thats guarding me, then the team will have problems because then somebody else is going to have to help and that means either the point guard or our big men are going to be wide open. For me to run as hard as I can and get to my spots, somebodys going to be open. And a lot of times its not me, but there are those few occasions I do get open and Ive got to be ready to take a shot.

Allen is averaging 43.8 percent from three-point range this season.

< The Celtics knew they were in for a challenge when the league-leading Spurs came to town. There was no doubt it would be a grind-out battle, but the Celtics wouldnt let themselves dwell on the Spurs record.

After the Cs pulled out a two-point victory, the Spurs werent dwelling on their own 29-win record either. The Celtics handed them their second straight loss.

Were very hard on ourselves, said Tim Duncan (18 points, 8-15 FG, 5 rebounds). Were not satisfied with where we are and honestly, I dont really care what our record is. Its how were playing through stretches. Were going to hang our hat in the last two losses and the kind of defense were playing, so were definitely not satisfied with what we have right now.

Glen Davis likes that Doc Rivers holds him accountable. That, along with the birth of his daughter, has helped him develop an increased sense of responsibility and a strong work ethic.

The two have a special relationship . . . one that Davis smiled about.

For sure father-son, he said, pausing before laughing, But like stepson.

All kidding aside, he appreciates the way Rivers pushes him to become a better player.

Hes worked with me, giving me opportunities to show what Ive got within the team, he said. But hes still hard on me. Hes still hard. Its like a love-hate - its like you love it but youre like, Oh my gosh, pipe it down sometimes!

Davis laughed again, knowing the tough love has paid off.

The Celtics have launched the Celtics Banner Moments program, an interactive program that allows fans to share their favorite moments in team history through video, photos, and text. The program will run through March and fans have the opportunity to win prizes including meet-and-greets with Celtics legends, game tickets, and more. One winner will be recognized at Fan Appreciation Night in April and will also win the chance to watch a playoff game in a private suite. Visit www.celtics.commoments for more information.

Follow Jessica Camerato on Twitter at http:www.twitter.comjcameratonba

Gauging the stock of Thon Maker, the NBA draft's mystery man

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Gauging the stock of Thon Maker, the NBA draft's mystery man

BOSTON – There’s a certain amount of mystery surrounding most players when they enter the NBA draft.

And then there’s 19-year-old Thon Maker, the 7-foot-1 Sudan-born basketball player who successfully challenged the NBA’s rule restrictions placed on high school players entering the league.                                                  

Maker reclassified academically in 2015 but elected to stay at Orangeville District Secondary School in Orangeville, Ontario for an additional year which was later deemed a “post-graduate” year.

In doing so, he satisfied the NBA’s rules regarding draft-eligible players being one year removed from their graduating high school class as well as the league’s age requirement.

This will be the second straight draft where there will be at least one player who played their prep basketball in North American who did not play in college or professionally overseas prior to entering the draft.

Last season, the Dallas Mavericks selected Indian-born Satnam Singh in the second round with the 52nd overall pick. The 7-foot-2, 290-pound center played his prep basketball at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

To be in such select company alone makes Maker’s journey to the NBA unique.

But in this narrative, that becomes more of a footnote as Maker’s path towards pro basketball has already taken him to three different continents (Africa, Australia and most recently North America) in which he has played for at least five different institutions.

CSNNE.com spoke to two different scouts, a league executive and an NBA assistant who was among those to see him play during a Basketball Without Borders event in 2015.

Their opinions of Maker’s chances of playing at the NBA level are kind of like the places Maker has played basketball – all over the map.

“There is no way this kid should be in this year’s draft,” one Eastern Conference scout told CSNNE.com. “He’s nowhere close to being ready to play or make any kind of impact that will help a team anytime soon. He’s one of those two years away from being two years away kind of players. If you take him near the end of the second round, he’s worth it. But a first-rounder? I just don’t see it.”

Another executive with a Western Conference team offered a similar assessment of Maker.

“He’s going to have to show some things that we haven’t seen yet, in workouts,” the executive told CSNNE.com. “Every draft has a player or two that you draft because he has upside, but he’s a project. That’s Thon Maker; a project with upside, the kind of upside that you’re probably not going to really see or really be helped by for years down the road.”

A second scout added, “He’s not ready for the NBA. Not even close. But this league drafts on potential and because of that, somebody will take him. It may not be until the second round, but he’ll be drafted by someone.”

However, one current NBA assistant had a chance to see him play at a Basketball Without Borders tournament and came away with a very different opinion of Maker.

“You immediately saw the separation of talent, of God-given ability,” the assistant coach told CSNNE.com. “He’s a multi-faceted player, a willing learner.”

Originally from Sudan, Maker was discovered by Edward Smith whose guidance has taken Maker on a basketball odyssey across the globe with stops in Louisiana, Virginian and most recently, Ontario.

During each stop, Maker's potential was evident.

But most of his best work came against questionable competition, the kind of thing that tends to raise eye-brows among NBA decision-makers.

As impressed as the assistant coach was with Maker, he too wonders how the 19-year-old will fare against bigger, stronger, more seasoned competition.

"We'll find out soon enough," the assistant coach said. "He's in the draft now. His skills, the good ones and the ones that need some work, will be on display for all to see."

Maker burst on the scene as an internet sensation a couple of years ago with a YouTube video that drew immediate comparisons to former Celtic Kevin Garnett.

But as more folks began to watch him play, the flaws to his game became more pronounced.

He is a 7-1 wing player with a lithe frame whose physical strength leaves a lot to be desired. While he has shown a great work ethic according to most scouts, he doesn’t have a true feel for the game in large part because he is so relatively raw.

And maybe most telling is how he has been on the floor with other above-average competition and more often than not, has done little to stand out as one of the better players competing.

Throw in the fact that he bypassed college altogether and it stands to reason that collectively there are more questions about his game than answers right now.

In an interview with Draft Express shortly after announcing he would enter this year’s draft, Maker shed some light on his controversial decision.

“When I found out I had the opportunity to enter this year's draft it was a no brainer to me,” Maker told Draft Express last month. “I've always had the dream of playing in the NBA and I feel that I am ready.”

Maker added, “When I had the chance to enter the Draft, I started of thinking about College versus Pro. The NBA game, talent, spacing, rotations, terminology, clock and practice time is so much more different than college. I watch a lot of ball, both games and practices. I felt that if I could do this full time, it would be great. If I went to college I could not see myself not taking my academics seriously. I would want to take serious classes and do well in them. I would have to split time in my focus. My approach is to always go all out and try to be the best if I'm going to do something.”

That’s why his decision to turn pro is not something that he says he will not have a change of heart about.

Players who enter the draft can pull out as late as May 25.

But listening to Maker, that doesn’t seem to be an option he’s giving any thought.

“I'm all in,” he said. “If you're doing something you have to be confident in your choice. This process is not a game. I've played with NBA players before and their approach is business like, even though they are having fun out there.”
 
When pressed on whether he would consider withdrawing from the draft if he doesn’t like the feedback he’s hearing during the pre-draft process, Maker reiterated his position.

“As I said, I’m all in,” Maker said.

“He wants to be a star,” the assistant coach said. “He wants to be a star and I think he will be. I don’t want to put too much on the kid before he gets a chance to get out there and show what he can do. But as of right now, in my heart of hearts I feel the kid is going to be a special player.”

Blakely's 2016 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

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Blakely's 2016 NBA Mock Draft 1.0

BOSTON – It’s that time of year again when we “NBA experts” make a mockery of ourselves with a string of mock drafts. After watching most of the top prospects during the college basketball season and several international players via video replays, this is how I see the first round of June’s NBA draft play out based on where teams – if the ping-pong balls fall as they are supposed to which never seems to be the case – are slated to make their selection.

Check out the full mock here.

The plan to sign Kevin Durant

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The plan to sign Kevin Durant

In the first offseason edition of CSN's "Celtics Talk" podcast, Kyle Draper and A. Sherrod Blakely are joined by CSN basketball analyst and former Celtic Brian Scalabrine to talk about how the C's can convince Kevin Durant to sign with Boston this summer.

Also, we look back at the season including which players made significant progress, how the rookies played, and who could be coming and going with free agency.