Celtics

Celtics first-round options in the NBA Draft: Kentucky guard Keldon Johnson

Celtics first-round options in the NBA Draft: Kentucky guard Keldon Johnson

BOSTON -- Keldon Johnson was SEC Freshman of the Year, the kind of honor that in this era usually comes with an automatic trip to being selected in the NBA lottery (top-14) afterwards.

But as talented as Johnson showed himself to be at Kentucky, like so many other top-flight players in this draft class, he too comes with questions.

And those questions will likely keep the Wildcats star on the radar for Boston with its three first-round picks at No. 14, 20, and 22. 

At 6-foot-6, 216 pounds, Johnson has ideal size and length to defend most backcourt players in the NBA. 

Playing with a pair of likely first-round picks in Tyler Herro and PJ Washington (also on the Celtics radar) at Kentucky, Johnson still managed to play well enough to stand out while averaging 13.5 points and 5.9 rebounds per game while shooting 46.1 percent from the field and 38.1 percent on 3’s.

Finding a way to get on the floor sooner rather than later is a challenge for any rookie trying to break into the NBA.  

But Johnson has some intangible qualities that with the right situation, could allow him to find a pathway to playing time quickly.

And with him being a player whose emotions are seemingly always on display, Johnson has the makings of a nice role player coming off the bench who can provide a lift not only in terms of his play but an emotional boost as well. 

Johnson’s length and physical strength enable him to be a decent rebounder too, which is evident by him averaging a shade under six boards per game last season with the Wildcats. 

But like most prospects in this year’s draft, Johnson is trying to answer as many questions as he can that teams might have about his potential at the next level. 

“I’m just going to show them my game, do what I do,” Johnson said during the NBA pre-draft combine last month. “Show I can handle the ball, create my own shot, stuff like that. Just play my game and do what I’m supposed to do.”

Creating his own shot, maybe more than anything else, has been a focus of Johnson leading up to the June 20 NBA draft. 

“A lot of people say I can’t create my own shot,” Johnson said. “Of course I’m going to disagree with it. Hopefully I go into workouts and show NBA teams otherwise and just be myself; I’ll be fine.”

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Jayson Tatum shouts out Celtics' Kara Lawson for landing Duke head coach job

Jayson Tatum shouts out Celtics' Kara Lawson for landing Duke head coach job

Kara Lawson is pulling a reverse Jayson Tatum.

The Duke women's basketball team announced Saturday it has named Lawson its new head coach, meaning she'll leave her role as a Boston Celtics assistant coach after this season to join the Blue Devils.

The Celtics will be sad to see Lawson go after her lone season as the first female assistant coach in franchise history. But Tatum, who starred at Duke before coming to Boston, approves of her next gig.

From one Tatum "family" to another.

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Lawson technically leaves behind two Duke alumni, as Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye played two seasons for the Blue Devils from 2013 to 2015 before transferring to SMU.

Tatum is a proud supporter of his alma mater -- where he spent just one season in 2016-17 before the Celtics drafted him No. 3 overall -- so his excitement for Lawson is understandable.

Tatum also will be hoping Lawson can help the Blue Devils back on track after they failed to reach the NCAA Tournament last season for just the second time in 25 years.

Celtics' Kara Lawson accepts Duke women's basketball head coach job

Celtics' Kara Lawson accepts Duke women's basketball head coach job

UPDATE (1:40 p.m. ET): Duke officially announced Kara Lawson as its next women's basketball head coach Saturday on social media.

-- End of update -- 

Kara Lawson indeed won't return for a second season with the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics assistant coach has accepted the Duke women's basketball head coaching job, NBC Sports Boston's A. Sherrod Blakely has confirmed. 

The Boston Globe's Gary Washburn first reported Saturday that Lawson accepted the Duke job, which became available after Blue Devils head coach Joanne McAllie announced last week she wouldn't return for a 14th season.

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Lawson made history last July when the Celtics hired her as the first female assistant coach in franchise history. The former University of Tennessee star and 13-year WNBA veteran -- who also served as an ESPN analyst after her WNBA career -- now can add "head coach" to her impressive basketball résumé.

Lawson also will break a barrier at Duke as the first Black head coach in the women's basketball program's history. If her comments last July are any indication, the Virginia native will work tirelessly to restore the Blue Devils to prominence after they failed to reach the NCAA Tournament in 2019.

"My mindset is being the first to do something is great; I want to be the best," Lawson said after joining the Celtics. “I don’t want to be the best of my gender. I want to be the best in the league."

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