Boston Celtics 2017 NBA Summer League Preview


The Boston Celtics begin summer league play tonight in Utah. They’ll take on Markelle Fultz and the Philadelphia 76ers to begin their Utah Summer League tilt.

The Roster


The Schedule

Utah Summer League

Monday, July 3 – 7 p.m. EST vs Philadelphia 76ers, NBATV

Wednesday, July 5 – 7 p.m. EST vs San Antonio Spurs, NBATV

Thursday, July 6 – 9 p.m. EST vs Utah Jazz, NBATV

Las Vegas Summer League

Saturday, July 8 – 8:30 p.m. EST vs Los Angeles Lakers, ESPN

Sunday, July 9 – 8:30 p.m. EST vs Portland Trail Blazers, ESPN2

Tuesday, July 11 – 6:30 p.m. EST vs Philadelphia 76ers ESPN2

The Celtics will participate in the Utah Summer League and the Las Vegas Summer League for the second consecutive season. The Las Vegas Summer League playoffs will begin on July 12.

What to watch for

Jaylen Brown’s development

Coincidentally, I wrote about Brown’s debut this time last year before he made Celtics fans fall in love with his game as a rookie. Brown showed off raw athleticism and an ability to get to the rim, he was also exceptional on defense as he averaged 2.3 steals per game.

Brown had an inconsistent role on the Celtics until the second half of the season. He seemed to settle in and became a contributor for Boston down the stretch and into the playoffs. Brown averaged 5 points and 2 rebounds during the postseason, but he had some encouraging moments. He scored 9 points in the Celtics game-7 victory against the Washington Wizards and then followed that up with back to back double-digit scoring performances against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

His hype has bubbled to another level this offseason, especially with him live streaming his workouts on Instagram. Brown has shown off a smooth jumper and an improved handle, both areas that he needed to improve on to continue his development at the professional level. Celtics fans can’t wait to see how his efforts have paid off thus far.

Jayson Tatum gets his first taste of NBA action

The Celtics traded down from the top spot in the draft to select Jayson Tatum at no. 3 overall. Many fans in Boston and around the NBA deemed Fultz as the top prospect in the draft. That’s also been mostly the narrative that the national media has pushed as well.

Tatum’s play is going to justify his draft position. It’d be good for Danny Ainge’s seat if Tatum gets off to a good start during summer league like Brown did. He and Brown should create quite the dynamic combo in summer league, it’ll be interesting to see how they play together.

Boston will be looking to see if Tatum can translate his offensive skills to the NBA. he possesses a variety of effective post moves and also has a good looking jump shot. 7/11 is open for business.

The Ante Zizic hype train

Zizic was selected by the Celtics with the No. 23 pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. He played overseas in Croatia and Istanbul during the 2016-17 season. He should immediately help Boston out on the boards while providing a tough, physical force inside.

The 20-year-old center averaged 9 points and 6.5 rebounds for Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul during Euroleague play. The Euroleague is widely considered as the second-best professional basketball league in the world behind the NBA.

The Celtics have spots to fill after Amir Johnson signed a deal with the Philadelphia 76ers. The team also waived Tyler Zeller on July 2 and it’s unlikely Kelly Olynyk will return at this time. Zizic will have a chance to show what he can bring to Boston during summer league action.

Can any of the second-rounders make a push for a roster spot?

Boston elected to use each of their three second-round selections during the 2017 NBA Draft. They selected Semi Ojeleye (no. 37), Kadeem Allen (no. 53), and Jabari Bird (no. 56) in the second-round.

Ojeleye is a high energy wing in the mold of Jae Crowder. He is a physical player who will give his all. Ojeleye fell to the Celtics despite averaging 19 points and 6.9 rebounds as a junior at SMU. He shot 52.9% from the field and 42.4% from behind the arc.

Allen is a guard who played at Arizona. He is a strong defender and could find a role as a defensive specialist in the league. He averaged 9.8 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists as a senior in 2016-17.

Bird was a teammate of Jaylen Brown’s at Cal during the 2015-16 season. He shot 37.8% from deep as a senior and could stick around if he flashes offensively.

The most likely candidate to make the roster is clearly Ojeleye. He was a projected first-round pick who possesses the kind of skills and drive to make an impact at the professional level. Summer League will be a nice place for him to start getting his foot in the door.

Will Demetrius Jackson and Abdel Nader earn roster spots?

Jackson and Nader were both selected by the Celtics in the second-round of the 2016 NBA Draft. Jackson signed a four-year deal with Boston shortly after the draft and spent his season on the Celtics bench while also playing in the G-League with the Maine Red Claws.

Jackson averaged 14.8 points, 6 assists, and 3.8 rebounds per game with the Red Claws. He shot 42% from the field and 27.5% from deep. Jackson is a low-cost option who will likely be in a bench role for the Celtics again. It makes sense since Boston controls him at a low salary for the next few seasons.

Nader was impressive while playing for the Celtics during the 2016 summer league and ended up signing a deal with the Maine Red Claws. He would go on to win the D-League MVP and Rookie of the Year honors while averaging 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 3.9 assists per game. Nader shot 44.7% from the field and 34.9% from behind the arc.

It depends on how the offseason goes for Boston, but if Nader has a strong summer league, the Celtics could look at bringing him onto the team via a two-way contract that the new G-League is implementing.

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