Can Boston start an all future hall of famers lineup?

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Thumbnail image for Celtics_huddle.jpgWe said it before — if this were 2000 the Boston Celtics would be an unstoppable force. And yes, I know Rajon Rondo would have been 14 at the time, wouldn’t have mattered with Shaq, Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in their primes.

But it is a decade later, and the Celtics have these guys at the end of their careers. Great careers. But that led to a great question yesterday from OG blogger Jeff Clark at Celtics Blog:

Could Boston start an all future hall of famer lineup?

This presupposes a couple things. One is that Shaquille O’Neal will start a game or two for Boston. Jermaine O’Neal is the guy with the starting job, but I think it’s safe to assume (based on history and logic) that he is not going to start 82. A twisted ankle could keep him out for a week, the flu could have him out for a game. There is a good chance he will not play a game or three, and Shaq will get the call to start.

The other part is: Will all these guys make the Hall of Fame? Let’s go down the list.

Shaq: A given.

Garnett: A given.

Allen: Maybe not a first ballot guy, but it’s hard not to put him in. Nine-time All-Star and the best pure shooter of his generation. He has a ring now. Currently second all time in three point field goals made in league history, and he will likely pass Reggie Miller for the top spot later this season. Basketball-Reference puts together a formula rating a guy’s chances of making the hall, and Allen is at 90 percent chance of getting in. And that seems low to me.

Pierce: Some out there will say he was never really one of the most dominant players of his generation, but he was pretty close. He is an eight-time All-Star and has one finals MVP to his name (and a ring to go with it). He has been the face, the captain of the one of the league’s proudest franchises. Basketball-Reference gives him a 95 percent chance of induction.

Rajon Rondo: This is the big question mark, because it is far too early to tell. Rondo has the ring and has improved every year, but whether or not he makes the hall will be determined by his play after these other names step away in a couple years. The Celtics will become Rondo’s team, and that is when we will see if he is worthy of the honor.

The only team in recent memory to come close? The 2004 Lakers, who had Gary Payton at the point, Kobe Bryant, just inducted Karl Malone and Shaq. But they started Devean George at the three, and Rondo is closer to the hall than George.

Plus Boston is looking for a better end to the season than those Lakers.

Richard Jefferson: LeBron James was sick during Cavaliers-Celtics Game 3

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LeBron James was inexplicably bad in the Cavaliers’ Game 3 loss to the Celtics on Sunday.

Except maybe it was explicable.

Cleveland forward Richard Jefferson, via Fox Sports Ohio

I know he won’t talk about it, so I’ll give my big guy a shout. Deron Williams missed shootaround this morning, because he had like a little bug, just really lethargic, had no energy. And I think that’s what Bron had. And sometimes these little bugs can go around.

When Deron didn’t show up to shootaround, it kind of started clicking in his head. Because for him it was more of like, “I don’t know why I was so lethargic, why I had no energy, I had nothing.” And so, these little things happen. There was no panic.

Look, he was lethargic. They hit a bunch of tough shots. If Marcus Smart doesn’t go 7-for-10 from 3, then we’re not even talking about it.

I don’t know whether LeBron was truly sick or Jefferson is just trying to help a teammate’s reputation. It can be both.

LeBron was better in Game 4, but not quite right.

If he’s dealing with a minor illness, that could clear up by Game 5 tomorrow. It should especially clear up by the Finals, which begin June 1. That’d be great news for the Cavs, who have no chance against the Warriors if LeBron isn’t at full strength.

The uncertainty of why LeBron hit a slump now of all times loomed over Cleveland’s playoff future. But Jefferson provided reason for the Cavaliers to breathe easy.

Michigan’s D.J. Wilson staying in NBA draft

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Michigan bigs D.J. Wilson and Moe Wagner declared for the NBA draft in similar situations – coming off breakout seasons, particularly excelling down the stretch, and sitting on the first-round bubble for the NBA draft. Neither hired an agent, leaving their options open.

But this is where their paths diverge.

Michigan releases:

University of Michigan junior forward D.J. Wilson announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will forgo his final two seasons of eligibility and submit the necessary paperwork to remain as an early entrant into the 2017 NBA Draft.

University of Michigan sophomore forward Moritz Wagner announced today (Wednesday, May 24) he will return to the Wolverine basketball program after removing his name from consideration for the 2017 NBA Draft.

Wilson and Wagner both said they’d stay in the draft only if they’d be first-round picks. I wonder whether Wilson got a first-round promise or is just confident enough he’ll get picked there. The latter wouldn’t be a bad bet. Even if the 22-year-old Wilson slips into the second round, this might be the peak of his draft value.

At times, it’s easy to forget Wilson is a 6-foot-11 big man. He shoots 3-pointers, dribbles and moves like a wing. He also too often shies from contact, which particularly hurts his rebounding.

But he’s a big. Those perimeter skills wouldn’t shine quite as brightly if he were matched up with opposing wings. Wilson has a 7-foot-3 wingspan, and he also protect the rim. However, his shot-blocking relies on a bounciness that’s not as effective when pressed into more physical matchups. He needs some space to launch – but when he has it, it also pays off in quality finishing at the rim.

Wilson has the tools to be a good NBA power forward, but he’s still a work in progress. In other words, he still looks like a borderline first-round pick.

Tyronn Lue imitates LeBron James’ criticism of reporter (video)

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After the Cavaliers Game 3 loss to the Celtics, LeBron James accused reporter Kenny Roda of showing up/asking questions only when Cleveland loses.

Questioned by Roda after the Cavs’ Game 4 win, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue lightheartedly lobbed the same criticism at Roda.

Coaching LeBron can be tricky. Lue must both challenge the greatest player of his generation and handle LeBron’s passive-aggressiveness. Lue can neither let LeBron walk all over him nor bark orders at him.

In this case, it seems Lue is trying to diffuse LeBron’s pettiness before it turns into something bigger. Considering how silly LeBron’s initial comments were, I bet the star is on board.

Tony Bradley becoming North Carolina’s first one-and-done in nearly a decade

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North Carolina hasn’t had a one-and-done player in eight years.

Since Brandan Wright declared for the 2008 NBA draft after his freshman year, the Tar Heels have emphasized player development over multiple years. That practice has yielded two national titles, including this year’s, in that span.

It also limited freshman center Tony Bradley’s playing time this season, as he was stuck behind seniors Kennedy Meeks and Isaiah Hicks.

But Bradley shined enough in 15 minutes per game to follow Wright as one-and-done from Chapel Hill.

Jeff Goodman of ESPN:

Bradley is a borderline first-round pick, though this late decision when many expected him to return to school indicates he believes he’ll go in the first round. There’s certainly logic in turning pro before scouts pick apart his game over a larger sample.

Bradley is huge – 6-foot-11 with a 7-foot-5 wingspan – but he’s not explosive. The hope is someone in the Rudy Gobert mold.

Whomever drafts Bradley will hope his elite offensive rebounding is a harbinger. But why is his defensive rebounding and rim protection so forgettable?

He moves and passes fairly well for his size, but considering he’s so big, those aren’t necessarily skills for him to hang his hat on. If a teammate sets him up, he uses his size to finish well at the rim.

Beyond his size and offensive rebounding, Bradley doesn’t set himself apart one way or the other. Whether that’s good or bad depends how deep in the draft it is.