WALTHAM — Nigel Hayes knows you need confidence to play in the NBA.

The 6-foot-6 forward from Wisconsin also knows you need a jumper to play for the Celtics.

Hayes showed this week he has the first component. And he told the Celtics he can definitely work on the second.

Mar 25, 2016; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes (10) shoots against Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Bonzie Colson (35) during the first half in a semifinal game in the East regional of the NCAA Tournament at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Wisconsin Badgers forward Nigel Hayes (10) shoots against Notre Dame Fighting Irish forward Bonzie Colson (35) in the NCAA tournament. (Bill Streicher/USA Today Sports)

WALTHAM — Nigel Hayes knows you need confidence to play in the NBA.

The 6-foot-6 forward from Wisconsin also knows you need a jumper to play for the Celtics.

Hayes showed this week he has the first component. And he told the Celtics he can definitely work on the second.

“We were talking in the locker room, we need a wing player, someone who can really shoot the ball well. I told the guys, ‘Take me third, I’ll shoot 5,000 shots a day for you. I’ll go stand in the corner and knock down shots for you.’

“Just show them that if they need a wing player, I could fill that void. All you’ve got to do is just put in the time to be a good shooter. Putting in the time would be no problem, make a lot of shots a day, hopefully get in some games. Hopefully, make some shots in a game and have a great career.”

Hayes was a 44.1 percent shooter from the field in his three years at Wisconsin, which included 12 points and five rebounds in the 2015 NCAA national semifinal stunner over Kentucky. In that game, he knocked down 2-of-5 from 3-point range.

When Hayes spoke Wednesday, he was asked why confidence is such a big part of his game.

“I always think it’s a great thing. The number one question they ask: ‘Why should we pick you on our team?’ My first response is always, ‘I’m a winner.’ Obviously, you need winners. Winners know what to do to win. They can help those around them win. Also, I’m a basketball player and I think if you want to be good or great at any level at anything you do, you need confidence in yourself. I’ll always have confidence in my abilities on the basketball court.”

What did Austin Ainge think watching Hayes this week?

“Nigel played well. He’s had a great career,” Ainge said, referring to his three-year career with the Badgers that included a 15.7 points per game average this past season. “The kid has had a ton of success in college. And he’s a very smart kid, a finance major. Just a took a final on Monday. He’s an intriguing prospect.”

Indeed, Hayes is a winner. He went to the Final Four in his first two seasons in Madison. He was part of the Sweet 16 team that beat Xavier on the buzzer-beater by Bronson Koenig this past March. Now, he has to make up his mind by June 13 as to whether to commit to the draft or go back to college.

“Hopefully, I can work out and work well enough and get into the first round,” Hayes said. “And if not, if the second round is the option, to go to a team who has some veterans on the team, who I’ll be able to learn from, expedite my growing process as an NBA player because it would definitely help me more to play behind some guys who have been there, maybe have won some championships, played on teams, played for great coaching, won a lot, I think that would help my development as an NBA player.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia


WALTHAM – One takeaway from the news that Kris Dunn reportedly doesn’t want to be chosen by the Celtics with the third pick is that he and his handlers are fairly confident that he’ll be the first guard taken.

This nugget is of keen interest to the Celtics, and in particular director of player personnel Austin Ainge.

“Over the next little while we’ll figure out who is confident in their pick range and who wants to come in and who doesn’t,” Ainge said Wednesday after the Celtics held pre-draft workouts for several prospects. “The picks between 3 and 16, there’ll probably be a couple of guys who’ll say, ‘We’re not going 3, we’re not going 16, so we’re not going to come in.’ So, there’ll probably be a couple.”

Now Ainge and the Celtics can narrow down the pre-draft field to those players they are targeting.

“We’ll start that coming up here,” Ainge said. “Probably a little of both but we’ll have to see.”

In addition to owning the third overall pick, the Celtics have the 16th and 23rd picks in the first round and five picks in the second round.

“The higher the draft pick, you have a better chance,” Ainge said. “There’s going to be really good players available at 16, there’s going to be really good players available at 23. It’s just harder to identify in that range. It’s a little harder. We’re going to work really hard to do the best we can.”

Ainge’s comments Wednesday were interesting because they came before the news of Dunn’s wish not be drafted by the Celtics came out.

With the Celtics in the market for a wing shooter and rim protector, a guard wouldn’t seem to be at the top of their list. But Danny Ainge said Tuesday after the lottery that his objective would be to take the best player available with the third overall pick. If the Celtics are looking at guards, especially later in the draft, the ideal situation would be to get a lot of them on the court at the same time to compete against one another.

To do that, the Celtics must first contact those players who have already hired agents and get in touch with others who have not.

“Everything has been on hold for a lot of the guys that feel they’re in the range for No. 3 until the lottery and so, we’ll start those negotiations with the agents coming up here,” Austin Ainge said. “So, I don’t know yet, to be honest.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

The Celtics may take a long, hard look at Kris Dunn as a candidate for their third overall pick in the upcoming draft.

But the feeling may not be mutual.

According to veteran NBA scribe and Yahoo Sports insider Adrian Wojnarowski, those handling the star point guard out of Providence don’t want him working out for or being taken by Boston.

Mar 19, 2016; Raleigh, NC, USA; Providence Friars guard Kris Dunn (3) waves to the fans after being removed from the game against the North Carolina Tar Heels in the second half during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at PNC Arena. The Tar Heels won 85-66. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Providence Friars guard Kris Dunn (3) waves to the fans after being removed from the game against the North Carolina in the NCAA tournament. He is considered the top point guard in the draft. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

The Celtics may take a long, hard look at Kris Dunn as a candidate for their third overall pick in the upcoming draft.

But the feeling may not be mutual.

According to veteran NBA scribe and Yahoo Sports insider Adrian Wojnarowski, those handling the star point guard out of Providence don’t want him working out for or being taken by Boston.

The reason is simple. The Celtics already have an established point guard in Isaiah Thomas and the possibility of moving Thomas to the ‘2’ guard is iffy at best. It’s the same case in Phoenix, which has Eric Bledsoe running the point.

Why is this such a big deal?

At 6-foot-4 and having played in the guard-heavy Big East, Dunn is regarded as the best point guard in this class, with draft projections have him going anywhere from third to sixth. Dunn didn’t take a physical at the Chicago combine, so the possibility exists that he could withhold medical information from the teams in addition to not meeting with or working out for them.

“They can’t stop them from drafting Dunn, but will those teams do it without his medical records, without a personal workout, without an interview with him? Because I’m told Boston and Phoenix will likely have to do that with Dunn,” Wojnarowski said in his “The Vertical” podcast.

It’s going to be fascinating to see what the Celtics do because they could theoretically trade with the point-less Sixers, who are reportedly dying to get out of the No. 1 spot and drop to No. 3 and draft Dunn as their point guard of the future. The Celtics would assumedly love to move up to the top spot and get Brandon Ingram and certainly have the equity to do so, with eight draft picks, including three in the first round.

If the Celtics hold at No. 3, they are likely to target 18-year-old Dragen Bender, the 7-foot Croatian wing shooter they could use. Danny Ainge said Tuesday after the lottery that if the Celtics hold onto their No. 3 pick, they will take the best player available, and Bender would seem to fit that mold more than Dunn in terms of their needs.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

On Tuesday night, the Celtics were slotted into the third overall pick in the NBA draft, meaning Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will have a tough decision to make should he hold onto the pick. With the draft about a month away and many experts predicting Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram will be the top two players selected, here’s a look at the players Boston is most likely to draft at No. 3 in June.

1. Dragan Bender, PF, Croatia

Bender, 18, is one of the more mysterious players in this year’s draft. A 7-foot-1, 215-pound big man, Bender played in only 36 games for Israeli club Maccabi Tel Aviv in the 2015-16 season, averaging only 12.3 minutes per game. Despite the Croatian’s limited playing time, scouts are impressed by his offensive playmaking ability and potential on the defensive end. It might make sense for Ainge and the Celtics to take a chance on the power forward, considering Boston will be looking to address its frontcourt issues.

2. Jamal Murray, SG, Kentucky

It was a successful freshman season for the 19-year-old Murray, who was Kentucky’s go-to scorer for most of the year. The Ontario native averaged 20 points per game, shooting 45.4 percent from the field and 40.8 percent from behind the 3-point line. The 6-foot-5, 200-pound shooting guard has shown he can score at will, but teams will be hesitant to draft Murray when considering his ball-handling skills. He averaged 2.3 turnovers and 2.2 assists, which raises the question if Murray will ever be able to become a combo guard in the NBA.

3. Buddy Hield, SG, Oklahoma

Hield was arguably the best player in college basketball last season, winning the Wooden Award and carrying Oklahoma to the Final Four. The 22-year-old led the nation in scoring (25.0 ppg), and his 147 3-pointers were the most in a season since Steph Curry hit 162 for Davidson in 2008. Hield constantly demanded double teams and played his best with the game on the line, but his defense is a question mark. Although his defense vastly improved throughout his four years under coach Lon Kruger, Hield is undersized at the shooting guard position (6-foot-4, 210 pounds) and may lack the quickness needed to cover some of the NBA’s best scorers.

4. Jaylen Brown, SF, California

Brown, 19, started all 34 games for the Golden Bears, averaging 14.6 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He did most of his scoring in transition or by spotting up, but got better at creating his own scoring opportunities as the season went on. The Pac-12 Freshman of the Year definitely has the physical tools necessary to succeed in the ever-evolving NBA; at 6-foot-7, 220 pounds, he could use his strength and size to learn the power forward position. Brown has the potential to grow as a scorer, but he must improve his consistency and decision making. His -6.48 pure point rating is one of the worst among guards in this year’s draft.

5. Kris Dunn, PG, Providence

In 33 games with the Friars, Dunn averaged 16.4 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists. The 2016 Big East Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year has physical attributes (6-foot-4, 205 pounds, 6-foot-9 wingspan) that will prove helpful at the NBA level, and his quickness and vertical are some of the best among the players in this year’s draft. Although he’s had injury issues during his time at Providence, Dunn remains a pesky wing defender, averaging 2.5 steals last season. One area of concern surrounding Dunn is his ability as a jump shooter. He did shoot 37.2 percent from 3-point land, but he’s not consistent enough to be labeled a scorer.

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

WALTHAM – Now that the Celtics know they’re selecting third in the June 23 draft, they can get back to working out potential future players. 

WALTHAM – Now that the Celtics know they’re selecting third in the June 23 draft, they can get back to working out potential future players. 

They will be busy Wednesday with two workout sessions. In the first one, they’ll get a look at Marblehead, Mass. native Abdul-Malik Abu, from NC State, Trevon Bluiett (Xavier), Nigel Hayes (Wisconsin), Malik Pope (San Diego State), Zhou Qi (China) and James Webb III (Boise State). 

In the second workout, they’ll get a look at Josh Hart from national champion Villanova, as well as DeAndre Bembry (St. Joseph’s), Malcolm Brogdan (Virginia), Jake Layman (Maryland), Abdel Nader (Iowa State) and Taurean Prince (Baylor). 

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

May 17, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas represents his team during the NBA draft lottery at New York Hilton Midtown. The Philadelphia 76ers received the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas sports his game face as he represents his team during the NBA draft lottery at New York Hilton Midtown. The Philadelphia 76ers received the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. (Brad Penner/USA Today Sports)

Isaiah Thomas might not have brought home one of the top two picks in the NBA draft but he did bring a little perspective.

In the wake of missing out on the top two picks in the NBA draft, it was the Celtics good luck charm of a point guard who, after sitting in the conference room of the Midtown Hilton in Manhattan, reminded everyone that a very good player can still be had at No. 3.

“Man, the No. 3 pick. Wasn’t Jordan No. 3? Say no more after that,” Thomas told Marc D’Amico of Celtics.com.

Indeed, Michael Jordan was selected third overall by the Chicago Bulls in the 1984 draft.

What, of course, remains to be seen is how the 2016 class compares with the ’84 class, which featured three hall of famers in the top five picks. Hakeem Olajuwon went first overall to the Houston Rockets. Sam Bowie was selected second by Portland. Jordan went third to the Bulls, followed by Sam Perkins to Dallas and Charles Barkley to Philadelphia. Olajuwon, Jordan and Barkley are all enshrined in Springfield.

How deep was that class? Another hall of famer, John Stockton, was taken 16th overall by Utah. There’s also recent results to suggest that you don’t have to land the top two picks to come away with a haul.

In 2009, Steph Curry was taken seventh overall by the Warriors. In 2012, when the Celtics chose Jared Sullinger 21st and Fab Melo 22nd, the Cavaliers selected Jae Crowder 34th followed by Draymond Green, who went 35th to Golden State.

“The stories in my life usually work out on the side nobody thinks they’re going to work out on,” Thomas said. “When we got picked to go over their and be one of the [top] three picks, I could’ve sworn we were going to get the No. 1 pick. But I’m happy with what we got and hopefully we can work around that.”

Coming out of the TV timeout before the final three picks were announced, cameras caught Thomas with an unusually fierce look on his face as the moment of truth arrived.

“Man, I was just trying to get my inner-Brad Stevens on,” Thomas said. “Trying to be even-keeled, show ’em no emotion, whether it was good or bad and go from there. It worked for the most part, other than the last little moment being up there with other two teams. I shed a little smile because I thought we were going to get the No. 1 pick.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

WEEI.com’s Mike Petraglia and Sam Packard discuss what the Celtics and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge will do now that their lot in the 2016 NBA draft is sealed after finishing third in the NBA lottery held Tuesday night in New York City. The Celtics will pick after the Philadelphia 76ers (No. 1) and the Los Angeles Lakers (No. 2). Will the Celtics keep their pick or trade it away? How hard will that be?

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia