The Boston Celtics are dead serious about a rebuilding process and the team’s president of basketball operations Danny Ainge seeks to travel abroad to see for himself if some of the names for the 2016 NBA Draft are for real and would be worth of a no. 3 pick.
Ainge confirmed that he went to Croatia, Serbia and Israel this past week to scout for potential talents who could be worth of their precious third overall pick in the coming Draft slated on June 23 in Brooklyn. Among those being considered by the Celtics is Dragan Bender from Croatia wherein Ainge saw him work out on his one-on-one skills and scrimmages to which Ainge described his travel as “an excellent trip.”
The 18-year old Bender plays for Maccabi Tel Aviv of the Israeli Basketball Super League (BSL). He stands 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m) and plays the power forward and center positions.
Before playing in the Israeli Basketball Super League, Bender had an early baptism of fire on the hard court as he made his professional debut at age 15 KK Split wherein he played only six minutes and added two points and one rebound. For the following season, Bender remained in Croatia and signed with KK Kaštela. With his help, the team was promoted to the A-1 Liga, the top league in Croatia. Most notably, he made a game-winning shot with three seconds remaining against KK Gorica to help his team secure the promotion.
In February 2014, Bender joined the KK Cedevita junior team for the Euroleague Basketball Next Generation Tournament. He put up a career-high 21 points, nine rebounds, and six assists against the junior team of the Serbian club KK Mega Basket.
Another prospect for the Celtics is 19-year-old California Golden Bears’ Jaylen Brown, who had a scheduled for a workout with the team. Ainge is aiming to build the Celtics’ core with young talented players whose age ranges from 19 to 22 years old in a bid to create a future franchise that will dominate the league in years to come.
The Celtics secured Ainge and team’s head coach Brad Stevens tenure with the team with contract extensions. The team’s front office believes that the duo can turn things around with the franchise and hopes that their decision will back up by results as well.
“This isn’t a move for any short-term reasons,” Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck said. “This is a move for the future of the Boston Celtics, hopefully for Banner 18 and beyond.”
The decision of the team’s top management to extend their tenure means one thing that they believe in their vision for the team and will reap the harvest once the Celtics develop their core. On the onset, they will still make a splash in the free agency hoping to land a veteran star, who could develop their young roster and gain for them experience that could be a tool for the future.
Photo Courtesy: Botend/Wikimedia