Paul Flannery’s profile of Danny Ainge for Boston Magazine.
“Back to the Drawing Board,” Pierce? Gone. Garnett? Adios. Doc Rivers? See ya. Danny Ainge spent the summer blowing up his team, and now it’s up to the cocksure Celtics boss to figure out how to return the franchise to glory. With a new season starting and everything uncertain, at least one thing is clear: We’re about to find out if Ainge is as smart as he thinks he is.
Chris Forsberg on trade rumors
“Navigating Rumor Season,” Cliff Notes: Rondo isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and it’s basically absurd that the rumors have started because the Shumpert and Stoudemire for Rondo is a joke.
CelticsHub on coping with the Celtics’ season, comparing the low-expectations-Celtics to the high-expectation-Knicks
Chad Ford, excerpted from ESPN Insider, on the early reports of potential number 1 picks in the NBA Draft :
1. Andrew Wiggins, SG, Fr., Kansas Jayhawks (17 votes)
Wiggins has been experiencing a backlash of sorts over the past few months. Reports that he was the third-best player in Kansas’ practices combined with growing concerns that he might not have the killer drive or skill set to dominate right away began floating around. Typically, teams want a player with the No. 1 pick who can make an immediate impact on the floor. Was Wiggins really the guy?
He’s really destabilized the doubters in his first three games for the Jayhawks. Not only does Wiggins look the part physically and athletically, his performance on the court has been absolutely stellar. Through Monday, Wiggins is averaging 19 PPG, 5.5 RPG and shooting 58 percent from the field.
2. Julius Randle, PF, Fr., Kentucky Wildcats (10 votes)
Randle became Wiggins’ strongest challenger this summer after scouts walked out of the Nike Hoop Summit and Kentucky practices blown away. Randle has kept the momentum going, averaging 20.5 points, 14.3 rebounds on 62 percent shooting in his first four games.
He’s the prototypical NBA 4 — blessed with size, strength, athleticism and an offensive arsenal of tools that allow him to score from anywhere on the floor. Combine that with Randle’s amped-up demeanor and his demand to touch the ball every time down the floor and there’s just so much to get excited about.
3. Jabari Parker, SF, Fr., Duke University (9 votes)
As a junior, it was Parker who was supposed to be the consensus No. 1 pick in the draft. But an injury after his junior year combined with Wiggins having a stellar summer and reclassifying led to a bit of a Jabari fallout. Scouts questioned whether he had a position in the NBA. As he struggled to get back into shape, scouts wondered aloud if he had the athleticism to be an elite player. He led all U.S. scorers at the Nike Hoop Summit with 22 points, but was just 1-for-9 from 3.
Three weeks into the season, the bandwagon is starting to get really crowded again. Parker has just wowed, averaging 22.8 PPG, 8.2 RPG and shooting nearly 60 percent from the field and almost 67 percent from 3-point range in four games. His amazing 27-point performance against Kansas (especially that 19-point first half) caused the scouts in the NBA to rethink their position on Parker.
4. Dante Exum, PG, Australia (3 votes)
Don’t forget about Exum. This summer, he was the apple of every NBA scout’s eye and was really the first guy to get buzz as a possible contender to Wiggins’ hold on the No. 1 pick. It started with a stellar performance off the bench for the World Team at the Nike Hoop Summit and then carried over to a riveting performance in the FIBA Under-19 Championships.
What NBA scouts saw in Exum was a 6-foot-6 guard who could play the 1 and the 2 and seemingly had the perfect blend of athleticism and skill. He is very quick with the ball and gets to the rim pretty effortlessly. His jump shot is still a work in progress, but that might be the only real weakness in his game.
Unfortunately for Exum, he can’t compete on the same stage with Wiggins, Randle and Parker. He’s finishing up high school in Australia in December and after that he has some pretty big decisions to make. Sources say that Exum and his family are leaning strongly toward him skipping college and declaring for the 2014 draft.