According to ProBasketballDraft.com, the Celtics continue to prioritize finding a scorer. And one of the players they are discussing is Milwaukee’s Khris Middleton.

Middleton, who just signed a five-year extension, averaged 18 points per game last season. The 6-foot-8 swingman was a second-round pick of the Detroit Pistons in 2012, having starred at Texas A&M.

He has shot 39 percent or better from beyond the 3-point stripe in each of his last three seasons, while managing a career-high 88 percent clip from the foul line last season.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

SKAL LABISSIERE

Position: Power forward

School: Kentucky

Age: 20

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 216 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-3

Key 2015-16 stats: 6.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 1.6 blocks

Scouting report: Projected to be a top-two pick at the beginning of the season, Labissiere saw his stock fall a bit after he averaged only 15.8 minutes last season. Physically, Labissiere has all the tools, and he can move up and down the court very well for a big man. He specializes above the rim, often scoring on putback dunks or off of lob passes from teammates. Other than his down-low game, NBAdraft.net writes that Labissiere is “a natural, high level shooter with excellent form.” He often flashed his mid-range game in college, but it’s believed that he can develop that jump shot to become a valuable stretch four at the next level. Defensively, Labissiere has a knack for blocking shots with his wingspan and quickness.

What hurts Labissiere is that he never fully lived up to hype about him before his freshman season. He lacks discipline on both ends of the court, and will be a long-term project for an NBA team. He is a bit thin for a 7-footer, and gets bullied in the paint a bit too often. This hurt his rebounding game, and was part of the reason he didn’t get as much playing time as he was expected at the beginning of the year. He’ll need to be a little meaner for the NBA in order to fully utilize his talent and potential.

Notes: Labissiere lived in Haiti until an earthquake in 2010 forced him to move to the United States. … While at Kentucky, he won SEC Freshman of the Week twice, and led the team in blocks in 12 games. … Labissiere was a 2015 Jordan Brand Classic member and was a part of the Nike Hoop Summit World Team that same year.

Related articles:

USA Today: Skal Labissiere: ‘In two or three years, I think I can be the best player in this draft’

247 sports: John Calipari a big believer in Skal Labissiere’s talent

Yahoo Sports: Combine buzz: Skal Labissiere impresses

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

GUERSCHON YABUSELE

Position: Power forward

Country: France (Rouen)

Age: 20 (turns 21 on Dec. 17)

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 240 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2015-16 stats: 11.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 42.6 3-point field goal percentage

Scouting report: Yabusele is known for his incredible strength on the block. He tends to bully his defenders and use his explosiveness to get easy looks under the basket. Despite his strength and impressive frame, Yabusele is both nimble and quick on his feet. Also, Yabusele can hit 3-pointers from deep, something NBA teams would love to have. Yabusele believes that he can use his range to find success overseas.

“I am watching a lot of NBA games and I really think I can play over there,” Yabusele said in an interview with NBAdraft.net. “I really like the way they play and I really like the NBA and think I can be good.”

At only 6-foot-8, Yabusele is somewhat undersized as an NBA big man, and his thick frame makes it difficult to guard more athletic, faster big men. He is sometimes too aggressive, which leads to foul trouble, and shot only 53.9 percent from the floor last season. He will need to shoot more efficiently to survive in the NBA.

Yabusele is projected to go early in the second round, and multiple national mock drafts have the Celtics using one of their many picks on him.

Notes: Yabusele started for Rouen last season, leading his team in rebounds and 2-point field goal percentage (57.2 percent).

Related articles:

Hardwood paroxysm: 2016 NBA draft scouting report: Guerschon Yabusele

NBADraft.net: Guerschon Yabusele interview

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

Of all the trade rumors involving the Celtics’ first-round pick — No. 3 overall — the idea of a deal with the Sixers has always seemed the most plausible.

The Celtics reportedly had strong interest in Jahlil Okafor earlier this year, and he remains a logical fit for what Danny Ainge might need.

Of all the trade rumors involving the Celtics’ first-round pick — No. 3 overall — the idea of a deal with the Sixers has always seemed the most plausible.

The Celtics reportedly had strong interest in Jahlil Okafor earlier this year, and he remains a logical fit for what Danny Ainge might need.

Monday night, the scenario seemed to gain some momentum thanks to a report on CSNNE by NBA analyst Tim Welsh.

While Okafor would appear to be the logical target for the Celtics, center Nerlens Noel might also be in the mix if any deal was completed.

The Sixers have the No. 1 overall pick and are expected to pick LSU forward Ben Simmons, potentially leaving them with more of a need for a guard. That’s where their desire to secure Dunn would come in.

Blog Author: 
WEEI

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

PRINCE IBEH

Position: Center

School: Texas

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-11

Weight: 261 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-5

Key 2015-16 stats: 4.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 blocks

Scouting report: Ibeh has been followed closely by NBA scouts for a while now given his supreme physical aspects. His wingspan is ridiculous, and his weight makes him impossible to push around down low. Couple that with his above-average athleticism and lateral quickness, and Ibeh has everything physically to protect the rim in the NBA. He also uses that athleticism to defend guards on pick-and-rolls, as well as throw down putback slams. Ibeh has a knack for pulling down offensive boards, but he is best at blocking shots and keeping those blocks in play, which often led to transition points for the Longhorns.

Yet it’s obvious there is a long way to go before Ibeh can truly excel at the professional level. A projected late second-round pick, he is nothing more than an alley-oop option on offense, and cannot be relied on at all on that end of the floor. He is an abysmal free throw shooter, indicating that Ibeh likely never will be a valuable scoring option for a team. He is not a great defensive rebounder, often failing to box out opponents. He will need to improve his awareness on both ends of the floor if he wishes to stick with an NBA team. It’s no secret that Ibeh will be a lengthy project for whichever team takes him.

Notes: Ibeh won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and was an unanimous selection to the conference’s All-Defensive Team. … He was born in London before moving to Texas at age 5. He didn’t start playing basketball until the ninth grade.

Related articles:

247sports: Prince Ibeh’s mental hurdles, how he’s realizing NBA potential

SportsDay: Senior Prince Ibeh helped Texas move past major injury but wants to show what he’s really capable of

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

Dragan Bender

Dragan Bender

In the days leading up to the Celtics’ most significant draft in the last ten years, it’s a good time to take a look at how they might approach their picks (if they keep all eight). 

In this mock, we propose the Celtics go with the player who can help them the most in the post. 

First round:

No. 3 – Dragan Bender: The Celtics have been scouting and watching him like a hawk, debating whether the 18-year-old could turn into the next Dirk Nowitzki. The 7-footer is a highly versatile player, who can play both forward positions and occasionally center. Right now, he’s primarily a power forward. Scouts believe the Croatian has all the necessary tools to become a classic stretch 4. With good ball handing, high basketball I.Q, very good court vision and excellent passing skills, Bender is just about NBA ready on the offensive end. He can play the pick and roll as both a ball handler and as a screener, a rarity for an 18-year-old. Throw in the fact that he runs the open floor and can lead the fast break due to his good ball handling and is a quickly improving shooter with the potential to be a very good mid-range and long range threat, it’s easy to see why the Celtics see him as such a valuable investment with the third pick. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Bender

No. 16 – Taurean Prince: Another versatile forward. At 6-foot-7, Prince is a 215-pound slightly shorter version of Diallo. He has long arms, and very good lateral quickness. Prince saw more playing time at Baylor than Diallo did at Kansas and has more maturity, as he played four years for the Bears. While Diallo is a post presence, Prince’s physical tools in addition to his defensive instincts and intensity projects him as a player capable of guarding both shooting guards, and a large portion of small forwards at the NBA level. Scouts love his developed skills while general managers sense a very high defensive IQ. Prince is the type of player who could transition from zone to the varied man-to-man schemes in the NBA. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Prince.

No. 23 – Brice Johnson:  The 6-foot-9, 225-pound Johnson has the perfect mix of scoring instincts, size, mobility and championship pedigree. He’s an elite athlete who doesn’t force the issue offensively and never tries to do too much. He’s a four-year product of North Carolina whose shot selection is very good, explaining his high percentage from the field. He is a very effective scorer around the basket and at the rim, thanks in part to his quick leaping abilities. He’s very explosive in the open court and gets out on the fast break and runs the floor extremely well. If the Celtics get him at No. 23, they’re getting a very mobile, agile and coordinated for a player his size who can outrun other bigs in transition. Here’s more on Johnson

Second round: 

No. 31 – DeAndre Bembry: Celtics stay athletic in the second round, nabbing a flashy 6-foot-5 athletic wing from St. Joe’s in Philadelphia, with a flare for making highlight plays. This is an explosive player with a big wingspan that could electrify fans at the Garden. He’s very fast and thrives in transition. A smooth athlete who excels in the open floor, both with the ball or filling the lane. Has the shake and wiggle to get by defenders in ISO and create shots in the lane or at the rim and has a quick first step. Once at the basket, he’s considered an excellent finisher, very similar to Kris Dunn.  If the Celtics say goodbye to Evan Turner, Bembry is the kind of athlete who could step in and fill that role. Scouts like his ability to get his feet organized quickly when attacking the basket and his ability to get around the defense. He also possesses a mean Euro-step, a must for any player from 10 feet and closer to the bucket in today’s NBA.  Vision and passing skills also strong. Here’s the WEEI.com profile on Bembry

No. 35 – Ante Zizic: The Celtics scouted him in Croatia before heading to Israel to watch Dragan Bender. He has all the measurables, including wingspan (7-foot-3) and height (6-foot-11). His long arms help him be effective on both ends of the floor while running the floor well. Scouts consider him a very active and energetic type of player. He is a monster rebounder with a high motor. He is much bigger (230 pounds) than Bender and uses the weight on the floor.  Also a more experienced and developed player in the pick and roll on offense. At 19, a “draft and stash” candidate. Here’s the WEEI.com scouting report on Zizic

No. 45 – Perry Ellis:  At 6-foot-8, 220 pounds, Ellis can move remarkably well around the basket. Showed at Kansas over four years that he can hit the mid-range jumper. His long-range shot has come a long way, thanks in part to him staying in college all four years.  

No. 51 – Isaia Cordinier: International scouting continues to pay off as the Celtics take a chance on a 6-foot-5 shooting guard. Cordinier, if he is open to it, is another classic “draft and stash” candidate. Here’s the WEEI.com scouting report on Cordinier.

No. 58 – Zach Auguste: Local kid makes good as the Togo Palazzi protege from Marlboro is scooped up with the last pick. Good length (6-foot-10). Good skills. Terrific program (Mike Brey-Notre Dame), Great story. Here’s more on Auguste.

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DRAGAN BENDER

Position: Power forward

Country: Croatia (Maccabi Tel Aviv)

Age: 18 (turns 19 on Nov. 17)

Height: 7-foot-1

Weight: 225 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-2

Key 2015-16 stats: 4.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, 0.7 assists

Scouting report: With a 7-foot-2 wingspan and a 9-foot-3 standing reach, Bender’s size makes him stand out on the court. Add in his savvy rebounding, his dependable jump shot, and his amount of potential, and it’s clear Bender is one of the best big men available in this year’s draft. Projected to be a top-five pick and one of the Celtics’ options with the third overall pick, Bender has a high basketball IQ, and is a gifted passer. He’s efficient at passing the ball out of the post, and moves very well off the ball. Bender could be either the ball handler or the screener on a pick-and-roll, something not seen very often in the NBA. He has the lateral quickness needed to defend smaller players, and that standing reach allows him to control the paint.

Many NBA scouts believe Bender will succeed professionally as a stretch four, a power forward who can space the defense out with a perimeter jump shot. The prototypical stretch four is Golden State’s Draymond Green, and Bender is very familiar with the Warriors’ defensive anchor.

“He’s the guy who is trying to organize the game,” Bender recently told Tablet magazine. “He is passing the ball, he is rebounding, he is scoring, he is all over the court, so that is what I am trying to be.”

As far as his weaknesses, Bender is a below-average athlete who lacks the explosiveness often seen in the NBA. He isn’t very strong, which results in him getting pushed around in the paint and relying too much on his perimeter game, which shows promise but definitely still needs work. His post defense also is a question mark, as Bender is not as good at protecting the rim as he probably should be.

Notes: Bender has a brother, Ivan, who currently plays at the University of Maryland. … He made his professional debut at the age of 15 and signed a seven-year contract with Maccabi Tel Aviv at 17 years old.

Related articles:

Tablet: Is Dragan Bender the NBA’s next unicorn?

Sports Illustrated: Who is Dragan Bender?

SB Nation: The case for Dragan Bender as the 3rd-best player in the 2016 NBA draft

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks: 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

DAMIAN JONES

Position: Center

School: Vanderbilt

Age: 20 (turns 21 on June 30)

Height: 7-foot-0

Weight: 244 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-4

Key 2015-16 stats: 13.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.6 blocks, 59.0 field goal percentage

Scouting report: Projected to go anywhere from the middle of the first round to early in the second round, Jones has the size and athleticism found in the NBA’s top centers. Already a physical freak, he has a frame that still has plenty of room to grow, and Jones is very mobile for a big man and gets up and down the court rather easily. He’s shown that he can hit a mid-range jump shot, and he shoots very efficiently from the field, doing most of his scoring one-on-one on the block. He has soft hands and can dunk effortlessly, but he understands that it is a different game at the next level.

“I’ve been working on my offense a lot, trying to create more separation, maintaining contact,” Jones told The Advocate last month. “In college, you can get away with going around a guy. In the NBA, you have longer guys, so you’ve got to create more contact between you and the man.”

The biggest problem for Jones seems to be his intensity and focus during games. He often vanishes during games, making him a very inconsistent option. He needs to assert himself on the court at times in order to fully utilize his talent rather than showing flashes of it. Besides consistency concerns, Jones is poor from the charity stripe (53.6 percent) and does not rebound very well for someone with his length and size.

Notes: Jones made first-team All-SEC after finishing his junior year seventh in the conference in field goals (184) and sixth in 2-point field goal percentage (59.6 percent). A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Jones made the SEC Academic honor roll his last two seasons. His 36-inch standing vertical leap was the second best at the NBA draft combine, and his wingspan was the third longest measured.

Related articles:

The Advocate: Damian Jones jumps into NBA draft waters with both feet

SB Nation: Wade Baldwin and Damian Jones measure well at NBA combine

Blog Author: 
Nicholas Frazier

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2016 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics have amassed eight picks; 3, 16, 23, 31, 35, 45, 51, 58. The draft will be held June 23 at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center.

CARIS LEVERT

Position: Point guard/shooting guard

School: Michigan

Age: 21 (turns 22 on Aug. 25)

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 191 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-10

Key 2015-16 stats: 16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, 4.9 assists

Scouting report: What is unsure about LeVert is how he will be able to hold up in the NBA. Over the past two seasons he played just 45 percent of the possible games, missing time his junior year for a broken left foot and then senior year for a lower left leg injury. LeVert just recently had the boot removed from his left foot after getting surgery on it in March to repair a Jones fracture. That surgery marked the third one LeVert has had on his left foot.

Analysts also have expressed concern that LeVert could be pushed around in the NBA because of his lack of strength, and he will need to work on his pull-up jump shot. According to Synergy Sports Technologies, in LeVert’s college career he made only 62 of 222 shots off of the dribble. On defense LeVert will need to make some improvements in his ability to prevent players from getting inside the paint.

When LeVert is healthy he has shown that he has elite passing ability and he is able to get to the rim with a good first step. LeVert was a guard in college, but because of his 6-foot-7 stature he has the potential to play multiple positions in the NBA, and his size could be a mismatch nightmare for smaller point guards. LeVert is projected to go somewhere in the early to middle second round.

Notes: Because of the surgery on his foot LeVert might not be able to start playing basketball again in July. … LeVert originally committed to play for Ohio University before withdrawing his letter of intent after coach John Groce left for Illinois.

Related articles:

Detroit Free Press: Analysts say Caris LeVert’s NBA combine hurt draft stock

Detroit Free Press: Caris LeVert has boot off, is training for NBA draft

Blog Author: 
John Hand