Celtics interview Justise Winslow, Willie Cauley-Stein, Stanley Johnson and more at the NBA Draft Combine
The Boston Celtics may not have a high end pick in the 2015 NBA Draft like they did last year when they took Marcus Smart, but they do have a hoard of draft picks that may allow them to trade up and change that. At today's NBA Draft Combine, Celtics management made sure to interview a few prospects they'd surely need to move up to acquire.
Some of the bigger names interviewed by Celtics' brass were Duke forward Justise Winslow, Kentucky center Willie Cauley-Stein and Arizona's Stanley Johnson, another forward. All three of these players are expected to be picked in the top ten. I don't like the Celts' chance of working the magic and landing either of these guys, but I will say if they were to trade up, those are exactly the directions I'd be looking (wing with size, or rim protection).
Doesn't sound like ESPN's Chad Ford likes their chances either. Ford was asked in a chat session Wednesday what team might move down if the Celtics were to trade up for Cauley-Stein. There were a few teams Ford speculated would be willing to move their top ten pick, but his thinking is that all of them would want an established young player in return. He went on to state Marcus Smart could probably get them where they'd want to be in order to land WCS, but that Smart isn't likely on the table for trade talks.
Which leads to an interesting debate. If you could trade Marcus Smart for the 5th pick in this year's NBA Draft, would you do it? I think the initial reaction is hell no. Smart showed so much potential this year in limited time and was one of the best defenders at his position. But then you look at some of the names who may still be there at five (Winslow, WCS, Hezonja, Johnson), and it becomes a tough call.
Also interviewed by the Celtics at Thursday's combine were Kansas forward Kelly Oubre, Wisconsin forward Frank Kaminsky, Arizona forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (potential candidate to be picked by Boston at 16), Syracuse forward Chris McCullough, Arkansas forward Bobby Portis, Stanford forward Anthony Brown, Maryland guard Dez Wells, Louisville guard Terry Rozier, Virginia forward Justin Anderson, Duke guard Tyus Jones, Murray State guard Cameron Payne, UNLV forward Christian Wood, and Washington center Robert Upshaw.
Hollis-Jefferson has been linked to the Celtics in more than a few mock drafts as their pick at 16.
WATCH: Arizona SF Rondae Hollis-Jefferson talks about the energy he'd love to bring to the Celtics http://t.co/1yPvgS3ibR
Upshaw is a 7-foot, 258 pound monster down low, who was averaging 4.46 blocks per game before being dismissed from Washington for substance abuse issues. This was his second time being dismissed from his collegiate team as he was also dismissed by Fresno State for substance abuse. So he'd be a high risk, potentially high reward pick. But if he's still there at 28, Boston has to take him. That kind of size and upside are too hard to come by to pass up on late in the first round.
Washington's Robert Upshaw has the tallest standing reach at 9'5" & longest wingspan 7'5.5" at the NBA Draft Combine
According to the Boston Globe's Gary Washburn, the Celtics can interview as many as 18 prospects, but those interviews are assigned, meaning Ainge and his brass won’t get a chance to talk to all of their preferred players.
A.Sherrod Blakely of CSSNE.com reports that they are expected to interview some players Friday as well, including Devin Booker (Kentucky), Pat Connaughton (Notre Dame, Kevin Looney (UCLA), Jordan Mickey (LSU) and Myles Turner (Texas).
Connaughton could be the guy Celtics general manager Danny Ainge is eyeing as he's a two sport star who is a member of the Baltimore Orioles baseball organization currently. Ainge also had a stint in Major League Baseball before committing to basketball full time.
Connaughton had himself a good day at the combine. He posted the highest vertical leap of the combine, and tied Shane Larkin's record for the highest in 14 years.
Good to know that Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens are leaving no stone unturned and are looking in multiple different areas to find the right players and weigh their possibilities. Of the players mentioned above, who would you like to see in green? (sorry Karl Anthony-Towns and Jahlil Okafor aren't acceptible answers)