Celtics

Why the Boston Celtics should not look overseas in the NBA Draft

Why the Boston Celtics should not look overseas in the NBA Draft

BOSTON – For years, NBA teams have cautiously dipped their toes into international waters when it comes to the first round of the NBA draft. 
 
Well that international pool of talent is about as shallow as we’ve seen in recent years on the eve of next week’s NBA draft. 
 
At this point, only Luka Doncic of Slovenia is projected as a first-round lock. 
 
The 6-foot-8 wing player is considered a top-five lock in next week’s draft. 

Beyond Doncic, the only other international players that appear to be possible first-round picks at this point, are French point guard Elie Okobo and 6-8 wing Dzanan Musa of Bosnia & Herzegovina with the latter considered a possible target for Boston which has the 27th overall pick. 
 
If all three are taken in the first round, it would equal the number of international first-round picks selected in last year’s draft.

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Multiple international players taken in the first round has been the case in eight of the last 10 drafts, with the exceptions being Kevin Seraphin (French Guiana, 17th overall selection by Chicago in 2010) and Evan Fournier (France, 20th overall selection by Denver in 2012) as the lone international players in their respective draft classes.
 
While Boston doesn’t have an extensive history of selecting international players, it’s clear that in recent years it has become an option they are much more open to utilizing. 
 
Armed with a pair of first-round picks in 2016, the Celtics used both picks – No. 16 and No. 23 – to select international players in French big man Guerschon Yabusele and Ante Zizic of Croatia, respectively. 
 
Both Yabusele and Zizic played internationally for one season before joining the Celtics.
 
Yabusele has been a seldom-used backup who split time between Boston’s Gatorade League affiliate the Maine Red Claws, and the Celtics. 
 
Meanwhile, Zizic was part of the Kyrie Irving trade with Cleveland that included Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and draft picks. Zizic is the only player acquired by the Cavs that is still a member of the Cleveland roster. 
 
There are several factors that may come into play as to why the amount of buzz surrounding international talent isn’t quite as high as we’ve seen in past years. 
 
“This stuff goes in cycles,” one NBA scout told NBC Sports Boston. “Just a couple years ago, it seemed everybody was loading up on international players in the first round, and a couple years before that.”

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In 2016, there were eight international players taken in the first round which came on the heels of four being selected in 2015, and six in both 2013 and 2014. 
 
Another factor that may be at play involves the building of rosters now where teams are trying to balance their rosters with high-end, big-salaried talent that’s complimented by young players on rookie deals to help strengthen the back end of the roster. 
 
Teams are more open to selecting a player who can contribute right away but maybe doesn’t have quite as high a ceiling as an international prospect. 
 
If a first-round pick is used on a player who might be another year or two from coming to the NBA, that doesn’t do a team any good in terms of bolstering their roster for the present. 
 
That’s why the Boston Celtics, despite having a roster full of young and promising talent, are targeting players with the No. 27 pick that they believe can hit the ground running and compete for playing time soon. 
 
“We have to find players that can play, and can help us,” said Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel. “Having guys on rookie contracts and lower contracts that can contribute, is invaluable. We have some high-money guys on our team now, and we’ve got free agents coming up every year; this year, next year and the year after. You never know how that’s going to go. We have to continue to have new talent in the pipeline.”

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Celtics get swimming lessons from Olympic medalists Cullen Jones, Elizabeth Beisel

Celtics get swimming lessons from Olympic medalists Cullen Jones, Elizabeth Beisel

Sunday was an eventful off-day for several of the Boston Celtics' stars, who got to hang with some of the finest American swimmers we'll see this summer in Tokyo.

Kemba Walker got some schwag from Olympic gold medalist Cullen Jones and Elizabeth Beisel:

 

Elsewhere, Grant Williams got in the pool and took some lessons:

The swimmers teamed up with the Celtics to encourage more youths to pick up swimming. The benefits, as Williams explained, are manifold:

"It’s not only about learning a skill, but it’s just fun. I enjoyed being in the water," Williams said. "It felt pretty cool to be able to say you know how to swim, and it’s a workout. Some people hate lifting weights. Some people hate running. Swimming is one of those things that gets your whole body into it — your arms, your legs — and you’re breathing, so I think it not only allows you to live longer, but look a little bit better as you get up there in age."

Even Danny Ainge was getting in on the fun . . .

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Monday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.

Jaylen Brown (thumb) and Kemba Walker (knee) questionable for Celtics vs. Lakers

Jaylen Brown (thumb) and Kemba Walker (knee) questionable for Celtics vs. Lakers

The Boston Celtics are going to be facing a tough task on Monday afternoon as they look to snap a three-game losing streak. They'll be taking on the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers in the Lakers' only trip to Boston of the regular season.

But in the game, the Celtics may be down a few key players.

According to the team's official Twitter account, both Jaylen Brown and Kemba Walker are questionable for the game while Robert Williams will once again be out with a hip injury.

Brown has missed the last two games, both losses, with a thumb injury while Walker missed Saturday night's loss to the Suns with a sore right knee. The team would probably like to get at least one of them back given their recent struggles (2-6 in their past eight games).

Brown has averaged 20 points, 6.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.1 steals per game this season for the Celtics and is shooting an efficient 49.2 percent from the field. Walker, meanwhile, is the team's leading scorer and he has averaged 22.1 points per game to go along with a team-high 4.9 assist per game. If both miss the game, the C's will seriously miss their respective presences. 

LIVE stream the Celtics all season and get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App.

That said, the Celtics could benefit from the Lakers not being at full strength for the contest. They have a couple of key players that will be questionable in the lead-up to the game and that includes Anthony Davis and Rajon Rondo, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell.

Davis has missed the last five Lakers games with the injury and the fact that he didn't practice on Sunday morning could make him truly questionable for the game. So far this season, Davis is averaging 27.1 points, 9.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 2.6 blocks per game for the Lakers and has served as a perfect superstar complement to LeBron James.

As for Rondo, the former Celtic has been a great bench option for the Lakers and is averaging 7.6 points, 5.4 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game as the team's sixth man. Rondo has missed the past three games with his finger injury and it remains to be seen if he'll be ready to return in front of the TD Garden crowd.

We'll have more updates on these players as tip-off for Monday night's game draws nearer.

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Celtics-Lakers, which begins Monday at 6 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live. You can also stream on the MyTeams App.