Brewer and Thornton Visit Waltham as Workouts Tip Off

WALTHAM - With the Orlando pre-draft camp complete, the Celtics staged the first of several days of draft workouts on Thursday at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint today.

Brewer and Thornton

Corey Brewer and Al Thornton renewed their in-state rivalry in Waltham Thursday morning during the first day of draft workouts.
Peter Stringer/Boston Celtics

Florida's Corey Brewer and Florida State's Al Thornton were joined by Russian prospect Nikita Shabalkin and South Carolina's Brandon Wallace in morning workouts, which started with agility drills around 10 a.m. and moved into pick and roll and shooting drills as the morning progressed.

Brewer and Thornton both worked out against each other for the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday, and along with Wallace they will workout again for the Celtics tomorrow as well. Ainge called Thronton "probably the second-best offensive player in the draft" and agreed with a reporter who called Brewer "NBA ready on the defensive end."

Ainge said he's focusing on six players for the #5 pick, and while he didn't provide an official list of names, Thornton and Brewer are likely two of the six given that they will stay for two days in Boston. Last year, Rajon Rondo worked out twice for the Celtics and ultimately ended up being taken at #21 after a trade with the Phoenix Suns.

"There's such a shorter timeframe for workouts. It's a lot different this year, but we're grateful that we get to see them two days in a row," Ainge said. "Some guys come in nervous, especially at their first workouts."

While Ainge has seen these players in person already several times, for Celtics Coach Doc Rivers, the workouts are really his first opportunity to see what these guys can bring to the table and also get to know their personalities. NBA head coaches are simply too busy with their own teams to be scouting prospects throughout the year.

"I try to keep an open mind. You hear all of the negatives before they come in anyway. We forget all the things [they've done]. We tend to go into these workouts looking at all of the things they can't do," Rivers said. "I really try to focus on the things that they have done."

While the Celtics' coaching staff is certainly looking to get a sense of what these players already know and what the can do, they spend plenty of time instructing the players on the floor as well. The workouts allow for a very hands-on teaching environment that benefits the players as well as the team's staff as the Celtics attempt to narrow down the field before the June 28 Draft.

Celtics See Yi

Ainge and Rivers spent Wednesday in Los Angeles watching Yi Jianlian workout. Yi didn't face any live competition, and Ainge joked that the workout was "Yi versus a chair." But given that several other players in the draft are opting not to work out against other prospects, the Celtics will take what they can get, and Ainge says he doesn't put much stock into individual workouts anyway. He's more concerned with the body of work he's been studying on Yi and other players.

"Our staff has seen Yi numerous times over the last three years. [Probably] a dozen times, on the National Team, on the Tigers," said Ainge, who didn't want to compare Yi to any current players, but did allow that he reminded him somewhat of last year's first pick, Andrea Bargnani. "He's on the of the six guys we're considering with the sixth pick."

Meanwhile, Ainge's phone is still running with teams interested in acquiring the #5 pick.

"People are kind of posturing and feeling it out. People who are interested in the fifth pick are probably interested in the fourth pick and the third pick too," Ainge said. "It really isn't solid offers, but there's been a lot of discussion."

Summer Auditions

After the draft workouts concluded Thursday, the Celtics conducted additional free agent workouts as they look to round out their Summer League roster. Scooter McFadgon, who played for New Orleans this preseason and had three 40-plus games for the Bakersfield Jam in the D-League, headlined the group, which also included Torin Francis and Aaron Harper.

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