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Tuesday, June 3, 2014
Notebook: Stevens running workouts

By Chris Forsberg

WALTHAM, Mass. -- Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens remains in high gear this offseason and is running the team's pre-draft workouts this week as the Green conduct final evaluations leading up to the draft.

Stevens, with help from his assistants, is putting draft hopefuls through drills and gauging their basketball IQs by asking them to learn plays and sets through on-court instruction, all while Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge and his staff -- including assistant general manager Mike Zarren, director of player personnel Austin Ainge and director of scouting Dave Lewin -- observe the workouts.

Stevens' hands-on approach to this week's workouts has resonated with the visiting prospects.

"I thought it was awesome that he was out here and working us out and putting us through the drills," UConn's DeAndre Daniels said. "I thought that was pretty awesome to see how hands-on he is out here with the guys."

While Stevens, who accompanied the team's brain trust to Chicago for the NBA draft combine last month, has said that he'll leave the talent evaluation to Ainge and his staff, Boston decision-makers are eager for the coach's input given his familiarity with most of the players from his time at Butler.

"He has had a previous relationship with a number of the guys that we interviewed in Chicago and have had in for workouts, [from] the recruiting trail or coaching against them in college," said Austin Ainge. "So I think that does help, and we’re certainly asking for his insights and knowledge."

Added Ainge: "I do know that Brad always leaves a positive impression because he’s such a good communicator and a good coach and a nice person. I think the more interaction players can have with him, the better it is for us."

The Boston Celtics put six small forwards through a 90-minute workout on Tuesday afternoon at the team's practice facility. Wichita State's Cleanthony Early, UCLA's Kyle Anderson, North Carolina's P.J. Hairston, Clemson's K.J. McDaniels, North Carolina State's T.J. Warren, and Daniels went through a session filled with wings that might be available when the Celtics pick at No. 17 in this month's draft.

"Some of these guys played power forward in college, so it’s good to see them at their NBA position playing against NBA athletes and like-sized guys," said Austin Ainge. "So it was good for us."

A handful of other notes following Tuesday's session:

SIXTH SENSE: The Celtics are still working to finalize the list of draft hopefuls that will visit next week, but it is expected that some of the more notable names -- guys that should be available when the team picks at No. 6 -- will pass through on June 12 and 13.

SULLINGER VISITS: Rajon Rondo, Kelly Olynyk, Phil Pressey, and Chris Babb were spotted in attendance after Monday's workout in Waltham. On Tuesday, Jared Sullinger was mingling on the sidelines as the media entered following the workouts.

SEPARATION ANXIETY: How can a workout help separate a pack of similar players? "There’s no magic for a workout," said Austin Ainge. "We try to put them in situations where they make reads and we can test their basketball IQ and then different tests of skill and athleticism. But really, it’s having our coaches on the floor, putting them in situations where they can see how well they learn and adapt, because of those are things that we don’t get to see all the time during regular games [like] how many reps in practice they needed to be able to learn how to do that." Did anyone stand out over the past two days? "There are some guys that we like more than we did coming in," Ainge said with a smile, while careful not to reveal any names.

EARLY RISER: Give Early credit for being honest. Asked what he was trying to show at Tuesday's workout, he replied, "That I’m better than these guys. And I’m pretty sure they are trying to show the same thing."