As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

MARIO HEZONJA

Position: Shooting guard

Country: Croatia (played for Barcelona in Spanish league)

Age: 20

Height: 6-foot-8

Weight: 200 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-10

Key 2014-15 stats: 5.8 points, 2 rebounds, 1.5 assists

Scouting report: Hezonja is undeniably talented but is followed by the question marks that accompany top European players as they enter the NBA draft. Hezonja is one of two European players, along with Kristaps Porzingis, projected to be a lottery pick this year. Many mock drafts predict that Hezonja will be taken in the back end of the top 10 overall.

His 6-foot-8 frame makes him a good size for a wing and he has very high potential as an NBA player. His fundamentals on the offensive end are very solid. He has great body control and is a good athlete, and he has the ability to take defenders off the dribble. He is a solid shooter with a quick release and deep range. He has the ability to defend both the shooting guard and small forward positions. His size allows him to rebound relatively well for his position. While his stats aren’t eye-popping, extrapolated over a larger workload they would seem more impressive (14 points and 4.5 rebounds per 36 minutes).

“I don’t think there is any downside with Hezonja. There is nothing he’s not good at,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “He is competitive. He’s big, he’s strong, he’s athletic. He can shoot it. He’s a really good shooter. He puts it on the deck. He can defend. There is nothing I don’t like about that guy, nothing.”

He could benefit from some added bulk in order to withstand contact at the next level. Analysts note that he sometimes loses focus on the defensive end when playing off the ball, he is prone to turning the ball over and can at times be inconsistent offensively.

Notes: Hezonja is known as having a cocky and fiery nature, which has gotten him in trouble at times. He played on about 15 minutes per game in a role off the bench this season for a loaded Barcelona team.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Mario Hezonja is the cockiest NBA draft prospect in years

BleacherReport: Hype Is building for international stud Mario Hezonja

Blog Author: 
Josh Slavin

Is this Marcus Smart’s official statement on Danny Ainge saying nobody on the Celtics is “untouchable”? Because it should be. Ainge should also then email this video to the 76ers and ask Sam Hinkie if he’s changed his mind about trading Nerlens Noel and the No. 3 overall pick for Smart and the C’s two first-round picks. “But he can drain halfcourt shots from his back!”

(h/t Bleacher Report)

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

As rumor spread that his coach was rallying teammates around trading him, Kings superstar DeMarcus Cousins posted the chillest photo in the history of chill photos on Instagram with the caption: “Meanwhile … good vibes.” Noted Instagram stalker Jimmy Toscano of Comcast (we kid) uncovered a comment from Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas on the photo: “If they don’t want you, I know who does.”

Thomas and Cousins played three seasons together in Sacramento, and three days ago Cousins posted an Instagram photo of his former teammate with the caption: “Follow the family. He finally got an Instagram.” No word on whether Thomas was invited to the super chill beach dinner.

Thomas has also made veiled recruiting pitches to Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge on Twitter.

Blog Author: 
Ben Rohrbach

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

STANLEY JOHNSON

Position: Small forward

School: Arizona

Age: 19

Height: 6-foot-7

Weight: 242 pounds

Wingspan: 6-foot-11.5

Key 2014-15 stats: 13.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 1.5 steals

Scouting report: Johnson is a versatile two-way player. He has a pro-ready body as a small forward with a long wingspan. He also is young, having just turned 19 on May 29. On NBA.com and nbadraft.net, Johnson has received comparisons to Kawhi Leonard of the Spurs. He projects to be a lottery pick, with many mock drafts predicting selection in the back end of the top 10 overall picks. He is a good athlete and defender, tallying 1.5 steals per contest. Johnson is a force in transition on offense and can knock down spot-up jumpers. His strength allows him to bully his way to the rim and create shots for himself off the drive.

“On offense, he’s really hard to deal with in terms of the other team. And he’s very much an improved defender, he keeps getting better,” Arizona coach Sean Miller said of Johnson in January.

His decision-making and shot selection leave something to be desired and must improve at the next level. He doesn’t finish particularly well through contact and has struggled against quicker defenders. He was a little bit inconsistent on both ends this year. As a passer, Johnson isn’t very accurate and was prone to missing open teammates. Overall, he profiles as NBA-ready and a very good fit for the small forward position. He has room to improve some of the more mental parts of the game, but at the young age of 19 has plenty of time to do so.

Notes: Johnson was ranked as the seventh-best recruit in the class of 2014 by ESPN.com and was the MaxPreps.com High School National Player of the Year in 2014. In his only year at Arizona, Johnson was named the Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and first-team All-Pac-12. The United States Basketball Writers Association named Johnson to its Freshman All-America team.

Johnson reportedly refused to work out for the Hornets, owners of the ninth pick, and hopes to get picked either by Detroit with the eighth pick or by Miami at 10.

Related articles:

SB Nation: Stanley Johnson was born to be an NBA lottery pick

SB Nation: Better one and done: Aaron Gordon or Stanley Johnson?

MLive: Detroit Pistons’ diciest NBA draft decision, Stanley Johnson or Devin Booker?

Blog Author: 
Josh Slavin

Danny Ainge has already brought Boston one title, and he wants another. (Jim Rogash/Getty Images)Boston is blessed with impressive front office talent. Bill Belichick's resume speaks for itself.



As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

MICHAEL QUALLS

Position: Shooting guard/small forward

School: Arkansas

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-5

Weight: 201 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2014-15 stats: 15.9 points, 5.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists

Scouting report: Qualls is an explosive leaper and athlete, one of the more prolific dunkers in the draft. His athletic ability makes him a force in the transition offense and got him to the free throw line frequently. He shot a very solid 77.5 percent from the stripe this season. Qualls is a good rebounder for his position, especially on the offensive end. With his athletic prowess and massive length, Qualls has the makings of a very good defensive presence. He played well defensively in college and projects to have a lot of potential on that end at the next level.

“To see him come back this year and finish strong this season, that’s what it’s all about finishing strong. I thought that was the mark of a guy who has made tremendous improvement,” Arkansas coach Mike Anderson said of his three-year swingman. “Second-team all-conference and we know he hasn’t even reached where he has chance to go in terms of his ability. There’s still work to be done with him and he knows that. When you get on the big stage that’s when you want to shine. I thought Mike did a good job of shining.”

Outside of his natural ability, Qualls needs refinement on the offensive end of the floor. He has difficulty creating his own shots and often forces bad ones. He shot only 33.3 percent on 3-point tries this season. His ball-handling also should improve.

Notes: Qualls looked likely to be a second-round pick in the draft, but on June 11 he tore his ACL during a pre-draft workout. The usual recovery time for the injury is 6-12 months. This has cast some doubt about his status as draft night rapidly approaches.

Qualls played some of his best games this year in the postseason. In a losing effort in the SEC championship game against then-undefeated Kentucky, Qualls made eight of his 12 shots en route to 18 points. In the first game of the NCAA Tournament, Qualls scored 20 points on 8-of-9 shooting. The last game of his college career was a loss to North Carolina in the third round of the tournament. In that contest, Qualls had an impressive performance, scoring 27 points while collecting 10 rebounds.

Related articles:

CBSSports: Michael Qualls is a prospect worth rooting for in this NBA draft

CBSSports: Ex-Arkansas wing Michael Qualls tears ACL in workout with Suns

Blog Author: 
Josh Slavin

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated joined Middays with MFB on Tuesday to discuss the Celtics draft plan and the rumors surrounding DeMarcus Cousins. To hear the full interview, go to the Middays with MFB audio on demand page.

With reports emerging that the Celtics offered Marcus Smart and two first-round picks to the 76ers for Nerlens Noel and the third overall selection, Mannix speculated that Smart could be moved at any point leading up to the draft.

“I heard that last night and I … couldn’t nail down all the details of the Philadelphia conversation, but I heard the Celtics were talking Marcus Smart and Nerlens Noel with the Sixers,” Mannix said. “… That’s why I wrote that anyone on the roster was available. But I believe it to be true now that it’s been put out there. I don’t think Boston is actively trying to dump Marcus Smart by any stretch, but I think Danny Ainge and the Celtics are looking to do anything they possibly can to get into that top-five, specifically the top-three because that’s where I think the true impact players are in this draft. You’re talking about either bigs or a point guard like D’Angelo Russell. Marcus Smart is available in the right deal any time in the next couple of days.”

Mannix continued to discuss Ainge’s trade plans, predicting the Celtics will trade up for a lottery pick.

“I’d be surprised if Boston didn’t get in the top 10,” Mannix said. “Three might be a leap. … I don’t think [the Celtics] are going to get that high, but pick number six with Sacramento is available. We’ve all heard the DeMarcus Cousins talk that’s out there, and that pick could be packaged with Cousins in a blockbuster deal with the Kings that probably wouldn’t involve Boston. But if the Cousins talk falls through, I think the Kings are more than willing to move back into the teens, in exchange for some kind of serviceable role player.

“I don’t know who that could mean on Boston’s roster, it could be [Jared] Sullinger, it could be [Kelly] Olynyk, it could be any number of guys. No. 9 I think is available too with Charlotte. The Hornets just made that Lance Stephenson trade with the Clippers, they got back Spencer Hawes, but they still have a gaping hole at the two-guard spot. And if Devin Booker, who is the 18-year-old two-guard from Kentucky, is off the board by No. 9, and I think he will be … I think the Hornets would be inclined to move back into a position where they can take R.J. Hunter later on in the draft. … I think Danny’s in a great position to move into the top-10 which is why I say at this point I’d be surprised if he didn’t get into the top 10.”

Despite concerns about his foot, Willie Cauley-Stein is still a target for Ainge and the Celtics, according to Mannix.

“Yeah, I think Cauley-Stein is someone that they would look at at No. 9,” Mannix said. “I think if you’re jumping up to No. 3, you’re looking for something different. But at No. 9 or maybe even No. 6, that type of guy. I was talking to a couple of coaches that have worked out Cauley-Stein and scouted him last night. They view him as almost the most sure-thing in the lottery. You know you’re going to get a Tyson Chandler-type defensive player. I had one coach tell me last night that he though Cauley-Stein was going to be better defensively than Tyson Chandler because Cauley-Stein can get out on the perimeter and defend guards better than Chandler could at that stage of his career. … Offensively, he could turn out to be Kendrick Perkins-type limited, because he just doesn’t have a lot of offensive moves, he didn’t show any offensive moves in three years at Kentucky. But if you can get a stalwart defensive anchor for your team with the sixth or the ninth pick, it’s not a bad thing to get.”

For more Celtics news, visit the team page at weei.com/celtics.

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2015 NBA draft, here is one in a series of profiles of prospective picks. The Celtics own two picks in each of the two rounds (16, 28, 33 and 45 overall).

JONATHAN HOLMES

Position: Power forward

School: Texas

Age: 22

Height: 6-foot-9

Weight: 242 pounds

Wingspan: 7-foot-0

Key 2014-15 stats: 10.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 38.9 field goal percentage

Scouting report: Holmes is a desirable prospect because of his versatility. He has the size and quickness to defend nearly every position on the court. Throughout his college career Holmes added tools to his offensive arsenal, including an above-average jump shot and a capable low-post game. While Holmes is a decent ball handler, teams reportedly do not expect him to make the transition to the three in the NBA.

Though Holmes has grown offensively, he still shows some glaring weaknesses. According to scouts, Holmes was dominated by bigger, stronger post players last season on offense and defense. The potential second-rounder also has a tendency to rush shots and make bad decisions with the ball, leading to his 38.9 field goal percentage and 1.5 turnovers per game.

Holmes believes he’s ready to make an impact for any NBA team with a stretch four need.

“I did very good at the shooting drills [at the NBA combine],” he said. “I had one of the best results, so I showed I can be that stretch four player for a team. When we played five-on-five, I showed I can guard multiple positions, rebound, do the little things that help win.”

Notes: Holmes took home tournament MVP honors for his performance at the 2K Classic, averaging 20 points and nine rebounds over two games. He suffered a concussion in February, which caused him to miss games down the stretch. Despite his injury, Holmes still earned All-Big 12 honorable mention.

Related articles:

USA Today: Could Jonathan Holmes Be the Draymond Green of the 2015 NBA draft?

SB Nation: Jonathan Holmes is Texas’ lone survivor

Detroit Free Press: Texas’ Holmes likes Pistons; will he last in NBA draft?

Blog Author: 
Justin Pallenik

WALTHAM — Apparently, where there’s smoke, there’s fire with Danny Ainge and the rumors of his interest in moving way up in the draft Thursday night.