With two first-round picks, reports have surfaced around the possibility of Celtics‘ President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge trying to move up in Thursday’s NBA draft. The Celtics currently hold the 16th and 28th picks in the first round, both making for huge bargaining chips around the league.
Additionally, rumors have continued about a foot issue with potential top-five pick Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein, causing him to slide in the first round. Cauley-Stein, a rim protector, is exactly what the Celtics have scoured the market for over the past two years since the departure of Kevin Garnett. Another potential target is Kristaps Porzingis, out of Latvia, who is graded by some as the top talent in the draft and would give the Celtics a true scoring option off the pick-and-roll with point guard Isaiah Thomas.
With an excess of cap space, the C’s could also be looking to move picks for an established NBA player. As speculation continues regarding the fate of DeMarcus Cousins, the Celtics remain a dark horse to acquire him if Kings’ ownership cuts the cord.
The Kings made it pretty clear over the past week they aren’t trading All-NBA center DeMarcus Cousins, as owner Vivek Ranadive told USA TODAY that there’s “zero interest” in dealing him and general manager Vlade Divac told The Sacramento Bee, “That is not happening.” But …
New Kings coach George Karl is urging Divac and multiple players to help convince Ranadive that Cousins must go, according to Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski, a development that all but ensures Karl and Cousins will not enter the 2015-16 NBA season on the same page.
Cousins’ agents Jarrin Akana and Dan Fegan have a contentious history with Karl, and Fegan has experience pushing for a high-profile center’s move to Los Angeles from the franchise that drafted him, as he helped orchestrate Dwight Howard‘s trade from Orlando.
Scouting report: Harrison’s biggest strengths are measurables. Standing at 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-9 wingspan, he has the size and length to dominate smaller point guards on defense. Though he’s not the quickest point guard in the draft, Harrison can cause trouble in the lane by drawing lots of fouls. The projected second-rounder displayed improvement in his jump shot during his sophomore campaign after enduring criticism as a freshman.
One of scouts’ biggest concerns regarding Harrison and his twin brother Aaron surround their attitudes. Through interviews and on-court body language, the twins often give off an apathetic aura toward the game. More practically, Andrew is seen as turnover-prone. Last season, he committed 1.6 turnovers in just 25.5 minutes per game.
When asked about his strengths and weaknesses, Harrison indicated that he was more concerned with improving his defense than his decision-making.
“My strength is mid-range jumper, getting to the rack and finding my teammates,” he said. “I just need to keep working on my 3 and my defense, really.”
Notes: A year after winning the national title, Harrison and his brother helped lead Kentucky to the brink of perfection, a 38-1 season record and a Final Four berth last season. Harrison led the Wildcats in assists, free throws and free throw attempts. He attempted 159 free throws, 15 more than the Wildcats’ next-highest player.
Scouting report: With the size, shooting and shot-blocking that NBA teams will love, Turner has solid mechanics with room to develop even further, according to CBS Sports. His wingspan could help him become elite at the power forward position and, even at the beginning of his college campaign, he’d already had success “executing step-back jumpers, fadeaways and shown a great feel for the offensive game,” per NBAdraft.net. Turner also is great on defense and excels at protecting the rim. The 19-year-old has a real knack for shot-blocking, rebounding, free throw shooting and the face-up game as well.
“Our practices are very, very physical,” former Texas coach Rick Barnes told Bleacher Report. “The game just has to slow down for him. Players either play in the past, the present or the future. I told him, ‘You’re somewhere between the past and the present. You’ve got to start looking toward the future a little bit. You’ve got to start seeing ahead.’ … He wants to be really good. There’s no doubt about that. But he’s not a selfish kid at all. He’s doing just fine.”
The biggest concerns surrounding Turner are that he isn’t the best athlete in the draft and that the way he runs could make him prone to injury down the line. NBAdraft.net writes that he’s “had some difficulties with his hips related to growth” and that his legs look so stuff that it seems like he runs with a bit of a limp. This could affect his fluidity moving forward, or it may only be temporary. Turner, who likely will be selected in the top 10, still will need to add some weight to his frame and could work on his post scoring skills as well.
Notes: Turner was named Big 12 Freshman of the Year and also was selected to both the All-Big 12 third team and the conference’s All-Newcomer team. The big man led the league in blocked shots with 89 while ranking third in free throw percentage and sixth in rebounding. Coming out of high school, Turner was the No. 2 prospecting the country, according to RecruitingNation.
Key 2014-15 stats: 12.5 points, 7.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 2.0 turnovers, 46.6 field goal percentage, 42.3 3-point field goal percentage
Scouting report: After an impressive senior season with the Irish, Connaughton continued to impress at the NBA scouting combine, proving his athleticism to teams that might be interested. His 44-inch max vertical at the combine was highest among all participants and tied for second highest of all time. More than just a strong shooter, the 22-year-old, who sunk about 40 percent of his last 400 3-pointers over the past two seasons, also is a tough and physical presence on the floor. Many of Connaughton’s possessions came on spot-ups, and per Draft Express, he scored 1.253 points per possession, which led the nation in total spot-up points. He has great rebounding ability, averaging 8.5 boards per 40 minutes, which is a tad less than some of the best wings in the draft class.
“We’ve had a lot of great athletes — student-athletes that were ambassadors and powerful personalities at Notre Dame — across football, basketball,” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey told Bleacher Report. “There’s no one more powerful than Pat Connaughton as far as how he’s represented, the role model he is, the ambassador he is.”
Expected to go in the latter part of the second round, Connaughton doesn’t have the ideal height for a shooting guard in the NBA, and he had trouble defending some larger players in the post this past season. He also doesn’t demonstrate exemplary lateral quickness.
Notes: Connaughton grew up in Arlington as a Celtics fan and worked out for the team on June 10. He went to high school at St. John’s Prep in Danvers and was a three-sport athlete (football, basketball and baseball), though he cut down to just basketball and baseball once he reached Notre Dame. Given his success as a pitcher, Connaughton was selected by the Baltimore Orioles in the fourth round of the 2014 MLB amateur draft, but he informed MLB teams that basketball came first and that he’d return to Notre Dame for his senior season to chase his basketball ambitions.
In his final year with the Irish, Connaughton was named to the All-ACC third team and led Notre Dame in rebounding while coming in third in scoring.
Scouting report: Kaminsky is a fundamentally sound big man with some of the most refined offensive skills in the draft. The Wisconsin product can post up on either block, score with both hands and hit the mid-range jumper. Kaminsky also can knock down the trey, as he converted on 41.6 percent of his attempts last season. Though he lacks quickness and athleticism, he is compensated with an extremely high basketball IQ. One of Kaminsky’s biggest strengths is his court vision, a skill that sets him apart from other big men in the draft.
Kaminsky’s greatest weaknesses stem from his lack of athleticism, quickness and length, all of which will present him with severe defensive limitations, according to scouts. The projected first-round pick also has drawn concerns about his offensive viability. He was a product of a particular offensive scheme in Wisconsin, and many NBA executives have anointed him a one-trick pony incapable of thriving in a faster-paced NBA.
Although Kaminsky traditionally has played center, he expects to transition into a niche role as a stretch four once he gets drafted.
“I’d rather have the offensive game translate and then be able to figure out the defense,” he said. “I feel like that’s easier for me than being the defensive specialist and figuring my way offensively.”
Notes: Kaminsky was the national player of the year for a number of outlets in 2015, including the Associated Press and Sporting News. Additionally, the Illinois native took home the John R. Wooden Award, the Naismith Trophy and the Oscar Robertson Award. He was a first-team All-American and led the Badgers to the NCAA title game against Duke, where his team eventually fell short. Kaminsky was the only player in Division 1 to average 17 points, eight rebounds, two assists and 1.5 blocks for the entire season.
Scouting report: Frazier’s most desirable asset is his shooting, though his 3-point percentage fell from his sophomore total of 44.7 percent to his most recent 38.0 percent. Part of that was due to the fact that, with All-SEC-caliber teammates having left Florida at the end of last season, defenses were able to focus more on Frazier and keep him from getting the same volume of quality looks, according to DraftExpress.com. Frazier, expected to go in the second round, has a quick release, is a hard worker, shoots well from the charity stripe and can move with ease when he doesn’t have the ball.
“The best way to defend him, the way I did it, is to stay connected and make him try to make plays putting the ball on the floor,” UConn guard Ryan Boatright told the Hartford Courant. “We’ll take our chances having him try to score off the dribble, rather than let him catch and shoot, because he’ll knock those shots down nine times out of 10. He’s a tremendous shooter, you can’t give him any daylight.”
Frazier is a little shorter than the ideal shooting guard, but his wingspan helps make up for that some, allowing him to play bigger than he is. However, it still hurts his ability to defend as well as he might be able to were he a bit taller. Other than his shooting, which certainly is important, Frazier doesn’t really do anything else at an elite level, according to CBS Sports.
Notes: Frazier missed almost a month of the 2014-15 season with a high ankle sprain, playing in 26 of the Gators’ 33 games this year. Florida ended with a 16-17 record and missed the NCAA tournament for the first time since 2009.
Scouting report: With one of the best motors in the draft, Hunter doesn’t give up by the boards or on defense, according to CBS Sports. He’s a great athlete with good reactions and great “positional versatility.” Hunter, who likely will go in the second round, brings quickness and explosiveness to the floor and can finish plays above the rim with ease. Draft Express calls him a “power forward in a small forward’s body offensively,” and writes he has “fantastic lateral quickness and multi-positional defensive potential.” Hunter has shown signs of being a suffocating defender and could become very capable there down the line.
“He is an elite-level athlete with a developing skill level and a big-time competitor,” UTEP coach Tom Floyd said. “He goes over, around and through guys to score and gets rebounds. He’s a power wing.”
In time, Hunter will need to get stronger, become a more consistent perimeter shooter and work on his free throws. His jump shot, while getting better, still isn’t the best, and he could stand to spend time on his ball handling. Hunter lacks some perimeter skills, and for someone of his height, those are almost necessary to be successful at his position.
Notes: Hunter helped guide the Miners to the NIT by leading the team in almost every major statistical category, though UTEP lost in the first round of the tournament to Murray State. He was first in Conference USA in rebounding and was an All-Conference USA first-team selection. Over the course of his sophomore season Hunter won four C-USA Player of the Week awards, becoming the first UTEP player to do so. He was named C-USA Freshman of the Year in 2013-14 and was the first player to lead UTEP in points (492), rebounds (305), blocked shots (34) and steals (41) since David Van Dyke in 1991-92.