Celtics guard Avery Bradley has always been known as one of the best defenders in the NBA, and now he’s being recognized for it.

The Celtics had a very good season and a good part of it was based on their improved defensive effort. 

Avery Bradley led that effort as a starter and, on Wednesday, was named to the NBA’s all-defensive first team by pro basketball media members.

The Celtics were slotted the third overall pick in this year’s NBA draft last week, which meant to most NBA scouts and fans that Boston would miss out on the draft’s top two prospects, LSU power forward Ben Simmons and Duke forward Brandon Ingram.

Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

The Celtics had a very good season and a good part of it was based on their improved defensive effort. 

Avery Bradley led that effort as a starter and, on Wednesday, was named to the NBA’s all-defensive first team by pro basketball media members.

Behind Bradley, the Celtics finished tied with the Clippers and Warriors for fourth in the NBA in defensive rating. Bradley was also the top finisher among guards in the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting (sixth place overall). He averaged a career-high 1.54 steals for the Celtics in their breakout 48-win season under third-year coach Brad Stevens. 

Jae Crowder just missed a selection on the second team, finishing with 47 points, including three first-team votes. Marcus Smart, who often played alongside Bradley in the backcourt, finished with seven points and two first-team votes. 

Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs won the Kia NBA Defensive Player of the Year award and finished with the most votes. 

2015-16 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE FIRST TEAM

Player (Team), 1st Team Votes, 2nd Team Votes, Total

Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio), 130, –, 260

Draymond Green (Golden State), 123, 5, 251

DeAndre Jordan (L.A. Clippers), 47, 43, 137

Avery Bradley (Boston), 62, 25, 149

Chris Paul (L.A. Clippers), 59, 30, 148

2015-16 NBA ALL-DEFENSIVE SECOND TEAM

Player (Team), 1st Team Votes, 2nd Team Votes, Total

Paul Millsap (Atlanta), 11, 75, 97

Paul George (Indiana), 5 , 38, 48

Hassan Whiteside (Miami), 44, 38, 126

Tony Allen (Memphis), 44, 33, 121

Jimmy Butler (Chicago), 18, 26 , 62

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

In the days leading up to June’s NBA draft, we want to encourage debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick on Providence College point guard Kris Dunn or keeping promising third-year player Marcus Smart

The case for Dunn

See if this sounds familiar: the Providence guard is powerfully built and physically gifted for his position, with the ability to defend multiple positions and a toughness NBA GMs like Danny Ainge love. If that sounds like Smart, it’s because Dunn shares many characteristics with the Celtics guard. Where he separates, however, is on the offensive side of the ball. Dunn is a better ball handler, passer, and scorer than Smart. At 6-foot-4, 205 pounds and with a 6-9 wingspan, Dunn possesses tremendous defensive instincts and court vision. He’s a terror in the open court and can finish at the rim authoritatively with either hand. He’s a true playmaking point guard who can also score (37.2 percent on 3-pointers). Just call him Smart 2.0.

The case against Dunn

In the delicate ecosystem of an NBA locker room, one malcontent can lead to disaster, and it’s fair to question Dunn’s fit when his agents are already suggesting he won’t play for a team — including the Celtics — with an established point guard. They can’t stop anyone from drafting him, but they can make it more difficult by withholding Dunn’s medicals, which is what Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski says they intend to do. This is an issue because Dunn required two shoulder surgeries during his PC career and teams will want a look before committing to him as their point guard of the future. On the court, there’s also the question of Dunn’s stroke — his inconsistent jumper includes a lot of moving parts — and his occasionally sloppy and reckless ball-handling.

The case for Smart

We have a much better idea of what type of NBA player Smart is and will be. A hawkish defender, he was often Brad Stevens’ secret weapon, shutting down opposing guards, but also spending time pushing 7-foot-3 Kristaps Porzingis out of the post or shutting down Hawks star Paul Millsap in the midst of a 45-point playoff outburst. Smart is one of the best garbage players in the NBA, and that’s meant as a compliment, thanks to his ability to attack the offensive glass, pick up loose balls, and force mayhem on both ends of the floor. He also deserves credit for his willingness to take, and make, big shots, playing beyond his shooting percentages in pressure situations. He’s also only 12 days older than Dunn.

The case against Smart

Man, that shot. Smart’s jumper is not pretty and neither are his shooting percentages. He shot just .253 on 3-pointers last year, third-worst in the NBA. He has also demonstrated time and again an inability to score at the rim, where he’s often swallowed up by bigger players. Smart’s impressive athleticism tends to be of the horizontal variety, where his foot speed allows him to stay in front of opposing ball handlers. He’s vertically challenged, however, lacking explosiveness at the rim. There are also real questions about his ball handling, which is why Evan Turner ends up playing point guard when Smart’s on the floor. His shot selection remains extremely iffy — Smart has never met a contested 3-pointer early in the shot clock that he wouldn’t take. Then there’s the whole flopping/complaining thing.

The Verdict

The Celtics need scoring, not another athletic, defensive-minded point guard. Even accepting that Dunn will be a better pro than Smart, the C’s can do better with the third pick when they already have a reasonable facsimile on their roster. Keep Smart, use the third pick on a shooter.

Previous entries

May 24: DeMarcus Cousins vs. Blake Griffin
May 23: Bradley Beal vs. Gordon Hayward
May 20: Buddy Hield vs. Jaylen Brown
May 19: Jahlil Okafor vs. Dragan Bender

Blog Author: 
John Tomase

Brandon Ingram is considered one of the top two players in the upcoming draft. (Robert Hanashiro/USA Today Sports)Enough of the talk. Danny Ainge needs to make just one deal. Trade up for one of the top two picks and get Brandon Ingram.



MIKE PETRAGLIA

BIO | ARCHIVE


Appearing on WEEI’s OMF program Tuesday, ESPN basketball columnist and hall of famer Jackie MacMullan gave Celtics fans a huge reality check when it comes to Kevin Durant.

May 22, 2016; Oklahoma City, OK, USA; Oklahoma City Thunder forward Kevin Durant (35) dribbles as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) defends during the second quarter in game three of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Kevin Durant (35) dribbles as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) defends. (Mark D. Smith/USA Today Sports)

Appearing on WEEI’s OMF program Tuesday, ESPN basketball columnist and hall of famer Jackie MacMullan gave Celtics fans a huge reality check when it comes to Kevin Durant.

The superstar in the midst of playoff run with the Oklahoma City Thunder, helping them to a 2-1 series lead over favored Golden State, could become a free agent this summer. The speculation is that he would sign a one-year deal and then sign his mega-deal starting with the 2017-18 season, when the NBA salary cap is around $108 million.

Celtics fans chanted “Come to Boston” when Oklahoma City came to town in March and spanked the Celtics. That was the same week Philadelphia fans did the same in the hopes of luring him to their town.

MacMullan said a reality check is in order.

“You can forget about Durant,” MacMullan said. I’m not sure Durant is going to go anywhere. Suppose they win the championship, you think he’s going to leave there?

“The truth is: All these people put words in Kevin Durant’s mouth about leaving in the first place. Has he ever said that he wanted to leave? He never has. That, to me, is a bit of a pipe dream.”

Another name that’s been tossed around is Bulls shooting guard Jimmy Butler. He’s got four years left on a five-year, $92.3 million deal. MacMullan thinks the asking price from Chicago could be too steep, even for the Celtics.

“Jimmy Butler, what’s the price? That matters, that matters,” she added. “You can’t give away everything away for Jimmy Butler. I would love to have Jimmy Butler here.”

Then the most realistic scenario came up. MacMullan thinks the Celtics are “most realistic” contenders for Philly big man Jahlil Okafor.

“I did a podcast with Brett Brown, the Sixers coach, and there were two things that emerged from that that made it very clear to me. One was he did acknowledge the glut of big men that they have on their roster, and realize, too, it could be a bigger glut because if Dario Saric finally comes over, who they’ve had their eye on now for a while, if he comes over, that becomes even more the case. So, I do think Okafor is available,” MacMullan said.

MacMullan was also asked about the comments of Danny Ainge on Sunday night to WBZ-TV, comments in which he indicated that he needs to be measured when considering how to handle moves this summer.

“I thought his comments [in the interview] were very interesting, particularly when he started talking about, ‘my job is to be patient, not to overreact.’ By the way, I agree with him on that,” MacMullan said. “I agree 100 percent, and I know people don’t want to hear that because they want things to happen yesterday, or at least tomorrow, right? But there’s a really good chance that they won’t.

“The other thing I learned in talking with Brett Brown in that podcast is that he loves Kris Dunn. I love Kris Dunn, too.”

MacMullan wasn’t overly turned off by Okafor’s incident at a Boston night club after the season-opening loss to the Celtics, a game in which he scored 26 points (on 10-of-14 shooting) and hauled in seven rebounds in his NBA debut.

“I like Okafor. I think if he came out in this draft this year, he’d probably be second behind Simmons in the draft,” MacMullan added. “He fills a lot of needs that the Celtics have. He’s a big guy. He’s not an elite defender. He’s not going to be the all-time shot-blocker leader in NBA history, or anything.

“But he can do what you need to do, and that is get some protection around the rim, rebounds the ball [and] he can score. He can score. Remember opening night? What he did to poor Tyler Zeller. He’s a very good player. We don’t even know what the upside is. I know people say, ‘What about all the off-the-court stuff?’ He’s a young kid that got frustrated, I think, by a lot of the things that happened to that team. Imagine going from Duke to the Sixers. He didn’t handle it very well. I’m not sure I’m ready to write him off for that.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics were slotted the third overall pick in this year’s NBA draft last week, which meant to most NBA scouts and fans that Boston would miss out on the draft’s top two prospects, LSU power forward Ben Simmons and Duke forward Brandon Ingram.

However, recent reports suggest that Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge may have a better chance of grabbing Simmons or Ingram than expected.

Lakersnation.com reported that Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak might have interest in drafting international center Dragan Bender with the second overall pick instead of Simmons or Ingram. Therefore, if Ainge holds onto the third overall pick, one of the supposed top two players this year could be wearing a Celtics uniform this fall.

“I’m not sure there’s as dramatic a cliff as people think between 2 and 3,” Kupchak said in an interview with TNT analyst David Aldridge. “Any way you look at it, we feel we’ll get an excellent player at 2.”

Added Kupchak: “If you look at our depth chart, you can make an argument that we need a player in the frontcourt,” Kupchak said. “We need a big. … I think we’re more set in the backcourt than the frontcourt.”

If the Lakers are truly looking for a big man, they could do a lot worse than selecting Bender, a 7-foot-1, 225 pound Croatian who played for Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel last season. At 18 years old, Bender has plenty of upside, and scouts love his ability to protect the rim and his outside shooting. With 6-foot-9 Laker Julius Randle occupying the power forward position, a true big man like Bender could provide immediate aid to a rebuilding Los Angeles squad.

It would make sense for the Lakers to consider taking Bender over the 6-foot-10 Simmons or 6-foot-9 Ingram, who play more like small forwards than true big men. Most mock drafts, like the one on nbadraft.net, have Simmons going first overall to the 76ers, suggesting that if Bender is taken second by Los Angeles, it’s Ingram who most likely will be available.

Ingram, who turns 19 in September, could provide instant help to a Celtics team that is on the brink of being a true contender in the Eastern Conference. Coming off of a freshman campaign when he averaged 17.3 points, 6.8 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 36 games with the Blue Devils, the ACC Freshman of the Year draws comparisons to Thunder forward Kevin Durant, as he has an impressive wingspan (7-foot-3) and shooting ability.

It seems the Celtics have serious interest in Ingram, as he agreed to work out with the team not too long ago. Ainge also has suggested that he will aim to take the best player available should he hold on to the No. 3 pick, which very well could be Ingram.

“We cannot let a player slip by us just because it doesn’t fulfill our immediate satisfaction, or the objective for the fans to see something more exciting,” Ainge told ESPN. “We have to pick the best player, under any circumstance.”

The NBA draft will be held June 23 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Besides the third overall pick, the Celtics also have picks 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, and 58.

For more Celtics news, visit weei.com/celtics.

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

As the days pass leading up to June’s NBA Draft, we want to encourage the debate regarding what the Celtics should do with the No. 3 overall pick. In that spirit, we present, “Celtics choice.”

Today: Using the No. 3 pick to trade for Kings forward DeMarcus Cousins or Clippers superstar Blake Griffin

The case for Cousins

Apr 9, 2016; Sacramento, CA, USA; Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins (15) reacts to a call during the second quarter of the game against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Sleep Train Arena. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

DeMarcus Cousins. (Ed Szczepanski/USA Today Sports)

Arguably, at 6-foot-11, 270 pounds, the most-talented young true center in the NBA. He turns 26 this August and is coming off back-to-back All-Star seasons with the woebegone Kings. He’s gone from 22.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in 2013-14 to 26.9 and 11.9 this past season. He can give the Celtics everything they’re looking for in a true post presence, who can score and rim protect. He would instantly transform Boston’s front court into a powerhouse. He’s still got two years left on a 4-year, $65 million deal, averaging $17.5 million each season, not bad for the production. The Celtics had no low post presence against the Hawks in their first-round series. Cousins would immediately change all of that. 

The case against Cousins

It’s the attitude, son. No one doubts his raw ability and production. No one also doubts his lack of maturity has greatly stunted his ability to lead in Sacramento. No doubt, being on a losing franchise year after year can wear on an impressionable kid. Having Rajon Rondo in the locker room probably didn’t do a lot to help in that regard, either. Cousins famously erupted at Kings coach George Karl last November in front of the team. He’s had many other flare-ups over his six seasons in the land NBA winners went to escape relevance. The Celtics spent much of the season building bonds and shedding tears when the season came to an end in April. Cousins could be an explosive mix to that. 

 

The case for Griffin

April 12, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin (32) shoots against Memphis Grizzlies during the second half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Blake Griffin. (Gary A. Vasquez/USA Today Sports)

Still one of the best pure scorers in the NBA. He’s a 6-foot-10, 250-pound wing who can shoot or drive to the basket with the best of them. He’s also still one of the best big-man passers in the game (along with LeBron James). His court vision is still superior and having him on the Celtics opens up all kind of possibilities on the wing. He’s a strong defensive rebounder and a solid defender. He’s been an All-Star in his first five seasons before losing his mind and punching an equipment manager in January in Toronto. That incident caused him to break his right hand and limited him to 35 games, breaking his string of five consecutive trips to the All-Star game. He has averaged 21.4 and 9.6 rebounds over his career. With him, defenses have to extend to the wing and respect his ability to score from 20 feet and in, just what the Celtics are looking for from a wing scorer. 

The case against Griffin

Age. He’ll be 28 by the time the playoffs roll around next spring. Are his best days behind him? For a 27-year-old, that might seem like a ridiculous question to ask. But, it’s one that Danny Ainge and others get paid to ask. His rebound numbers have dropped from 12.0 in his rookie season to 8.4 last season. The day after Christmas, he was ruled out indefinitely with a partially torn left quadriceps, just above the same knee he had surgery on in Jan. 2010. While expected to return to action on Jan 26, Griffin was instead ruled out for an estimated four to six weeks due to a right hand injury he suffered in the aforementioned Toronto incident. The Clippers publicly scolded Griffin for his behavior and then Doc Rivers had to constantly deny trade rumors. Griffin returned to action on April 3 against Washington. He played 24 minutes as a starter, scoring only six points and five rebounds. He appeared in five of the Clippers’ final seven games of the regular season, and managed to appear in the first four first-round playoff games against the Trail Blazers before aggravating the left quad injury in Game 4, which ruled him out for the rest of the postseason. And, oh by the way, he’s entering the fourth year of a five-year, $94.5 million deal, which pays him $20.1 million next season and $21 million in the final year. 

The verdict

Cousins is just entering the prime of his career and doesn’t have the mileage and injury history of Griffin. Cousins hasn’t been to the playoffs in his six years in Sacramento but that would change with a relocation to Boston. 

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Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia