BOSTON (CBS) — The NBA Draft is two weeks away, and all the speculation is heating up.
Teams are holding pre-draft workouts, welcoming in prospects who they hope can bring a boost to their team (or in some cases, revitalize their organization).
The Boston Celtics own two first-round picks, sixth and 17th overall, unless of course Danny Ainge opts to package one or both for a veteran talent, as many of the experts expect him to do. But that hasn’t kept them from making selections for the Celtics in their mock drafts, with many predicting the Celtics take a big man with the sixth overall selection. Arizona’s Aaron Gordon, who is in Boston for a pre-draft workout on Thursday, is a popular pick for the C’s in these mock drafts, but there are a few other interesting names being thrown out there.
Here is a roundup of how all the experts see the Celtics using their two first-rounders on June 26:
Chad Ford, ESPN (from June 10, insider’s content)
No. 6: Aaron Gordon, PF Arizona
The Celtics continue to explore all options and after panning the draft most of the year, Celtics boss Danny Ainge now likes several players. I think Gordon and Marcus Smart are the top two contenders for this pick of the remaining players on the board, with the edge right now toward Gordon. Both Gary Harris and Doug McDermott will get looks here as well.
Trades always remain an option for Boston. If they can move this pick for a young impact player, they won’t hesitate.
No. 17: Kristaps Porzingis, PF Latvia
Porzingis is the hot name right now. He surprised everyone when he declared for the draft and the more due diligence teams have done on him, the more they have fallen in love with him. He could now go as high as No. 14 to the Magic and the Hawks at No. 15 are also looking at him as well. Porzingis won’t slide past the Thunder at No. 21. General manager Danny Ainge has two picks and can afford to gamble on one of them. At 7 feet with both athleticism and a nice shooting touch, there’s tons of upside for Porzingis. He’s just a couple of years away.
Jeff Goodman, ESPN (from March 29)
No. 6: Marcus Smart, PG Oklahoma
General manager Danny Ainge likes Randle, Vonleh and Smart — but taking a point guard at this spot also would allow him to dangle Rajon Rondo and have a backup plan. Smart is physically ready to play in the league, and his floor game has improved in the past year.
No. 17: T.J. Warren, SF NC State
He’s not an exceptional athlete, but neither was Paul Pierce. Warren can flat-out score, and his perimeter shot is hardly broken. Boston needs a guy like Warren, who was the ACC Player of the Year and carried NC State last season.
Chris Mannix, Sports Illustrated (from June 4)
No. 6: Aaron Gordon, PF Arizona
Several league sources believe that Celtics GM Danny Ainge is locked in on Gordon. While Gordon’s shooting is a concern, he is a strong rebounder and shot blocker who can defend either forward spot and has been compared to Shawn Marion. A trade is possible here, too. Ainge is always on the lookout for a make a blockbuster deal, and with Boston’s assets he is more than equipped to do so.
No. 17: Jusuf Nurkic, C Bosnia
The Celtics need a center — the 6-9 Jared Sullinger is better suited for power forward — and Nurkic is the best on the board. Nurkic is a physical player with soft hands and a knack for finishing around the basket. He’s raw, having started playing in 2009, but Boston ownership is willing to rebuild slowly. Nurkic, who has been compared to Minnesota’s Nikola Pekovic, has a huge upside.
Matt Moore, CBSSports.com (from June 4)
No. 6: Aaron Gordon, PF Arizona
Danny Ainge has talked down this draft so badly I don’t even want him to pick, but this makes too much sense. He gives Brad Stevens a super-athletic, multi-skilled freak athlete.
No. 17: Tyler Ennis, PG Syracuse
You know. Just in case. Cough…(Rondo)…Cough.
Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com (May 21)
No. 6: Noah Vonleh, PF Indiana
Vonleh can play physical inside or step outside and hit shots from the perimeter, a promising start after one season as one of the fast-risers on the board. He is going in a very good direction.
Note: Vonleh, a Haverhill native, was in for a pre-draft workout on Wednesday. Here is how he said things went:
No. 17: P.J. Hairston, SF NBADL
Hairston finished his season with the Texas Legends at 21.8 points and 32.3 minutes in 26 games, reinforcing his standing as a first-rounder who can score from the perimeter or go hard to the rim. Teams will look hard at his background after being suspended by the NCAA, in part over some acquaintances.
DraftExpress.com (June 11)
No. 6: Dante Exum, PG Australia
No. 17: Zach LaVine, SG UCLA
HoopsHype.com (June 7)
No 6: Julius Randle, PF Kentucky
The Celtics could look to use Rondo, their own 6th pick and possibly future selections in an effort to move up for Parker or Embiid. If they stand pat, Randle would offer a lot of value here and would land in the perfect situation to maximize his potential in Boston. Kentucky’s unexpected run to the title game did nothing but help Randle’s stock. While he may lack the franchise changing ability of the top three, he’s a strong bet to be a productive NBA player. His combination of power and skill set him apart. He’s received positive reviews from scouts about his willingness to be coached and learn, though there was some frustration from Coach Cal about his ability to manage his minutes late in the season. While his face-the-basket skills are ahead of his back-to-the-basket game, he has the strength and footwork to develop into a quality inside/outside threat in the league. Randle seems to be one of the prospects whose success will be contingent upon landing in the right situation.
No. 17: Elfrid Payton, PG Louisiana-Lafayette
Payton shares some of Rajon Rondo’s attributes, namely elite level quickness, great length and innate PG skills. He made a name for himself by being a valuable contributor to the Under 19 USA team that won gold in Prague at the World Championships, where he received high praise from all of the coaches. He followed up a tremendous summer by leading the Raging Cajuns into the Big Dance. He is an elite level athlete for a PG with great length and quickness, and although his shot remains a work in progress, it showed signs of improvement towards the end of the year. Payton has a chance to be a standout starter in the league, which is something that cannot be said about many PGs on the college level. He’s still got a long ways to go, but being the age of a sophomore gives him added intrigue. Look for Payton to get looks beginning at the end of the lottery and find a spot in the mid-first round. He has even drawn some comparisons from scouts to another former Payton (Gary) due to his defensive prowess.
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