The Celtics kick off summer league tonight against the Philadelphia 76ers in Utah. Here's what you need to know.
- Utah Summer League
- Vegas Summer League
The Vegas Summer League playoffs will be held July 13th.
What To Watch For:
- The Debut Of Jaylen Brown
After failing to make a trade during the draft, the Celtics took a chance on Jaylen Brown with the third pick. He's said and done all of the right things thus far, but after potentially missing out on Nerlens Noel, Jahlil Okafor, and Jimmy Butler, some fans are still slightly disappointed in the pick. Brown's play in the summer league will be the fans first chance to judge if he was worthy of his lofty position, and by coincidence he'll be playing against the number one pick, Ben Simmons, in his debut. Fans will be looking to see if Jaylen Brown has improved his shot and begun to limit his turnover issues, which were some of his bigger struggles during his freshman year at the University of California. It's important for Brown to get off to a quick start for both his confidence, and the confidence of the fan base after losing out on Kevin Durant. Jaylen Brown is expected to play a large role on next years team, and his development during the summer league could be pivotal to launching him into a successful rookie season.
- Guerschon Yabusele proves his draft status
When the Celtics selected Yabusele with the 16th pick, many fans, including myself instantly went 'WHO?'. The first reaction of the pick was a large amount of disappointment and frustration with Danny Ainge, and for some fans it still is. Yabusele is a prospect out of France who some have nicknamed, 'The French Draymond Green'. He is a versatile forward with a long wing span with the ability to shoot from long range, Yabusele has a lot of potential waiting to be tapped. At 6'8" and 260 pounds, he has ample size and strength for the forward position in the NBA, but he is also extremely quick and agile. He's likely a draft and stash candidate like Ante Zizic, who will not be participating in summer league, so this is his chance to show how good he is to the fans that had no idea who he was when he was drafted. It'll be interesting to see if he can justify his draft status.
- Can Terry Rozier and Jordan Mickey build upon successful rookie years?
It's no secret that fans weren't expecting a whole lot out of Terry Rozier when he was selected with the 16th pick out of Louisville in 2015, and for much of the season they were right. Rozier spent a lot of time in the D-League and would normally only get minutes on the parent club during blowouts. Then, Avery Bradley went down and Rozier was suddenly thrust into a big role during the Celtics first round series against the Hawks and he blossomed. He showed his quickness and rebounding ability, while also playing stellar defense. The Celtics would lose the series in 6 games, but Terry Rozier's role was one of the bright spots, he seemingly made a few timely baskets and other plays to bring the crowd to his feet. Boston always appreciates the players who aren't afraid to dive for loose balls and do the dirty work, and Terry Rozier is the next player that the city will fall in love with. Having a good performance during the summer league will definitely have Brad Stevens eyeing him for a larger role next season behind Isaiah Thomas. With Evan Turner headed to Portland, Rozier and Marcus Smart could be the main ball handlers for the second unit.
Jordan Mickey on the other hand, was a guy that fans have been raving to get more action since the summer league last year. Mickey is a shot blocking big, and during limited time last season he always seemed to come in and swat shots out of the air. With Jared Sullinger and Tyler Zeller possibly moving on from the Celtics, a good summer league performance from Mickey could put him in line to be backing up Al Horford and Amir Johnson next season. Unfortunately, Mickey suffered a shoulder injury doing none other than blocking a shot, so it is likely we'll see him towards the end of summer league when the Celtics head to Vegas.
- Can James Young and RJ Hunter prove they belong?
James Young is back for his third summer league appearance after a disappointing sophomore season. Young is still only 20 years old, so many fans are clinging on to the hope that he can still turn his career around. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case thus far. It is absolutely vital for his NBA career that he plays well during these few games. If not, it's quite possible that he'll fall out of the league completely and have to spend his time overseas.
The Celtics selected sharp shooter RJ Hunter with the 28th pick in the 2015 draft. Pretty much everyone was in consensus that the Celtics had gotten a steal, and a player that could instantly help take care of one of our needs, which was long range shooting. Instead, when Hunter took the floor he had mental lapses defensively and his shot was also pretty sub par. During the regular season, he shot only 30.2% from three point range and like Rozier and Mickey, spent a lot of time in the D-League. He needs to show off improved focus on the defensive end of the floor and prove he can shoot at this level, if not, he could be headed down the same path as James Young.
- Demetrius Jackson and Ben Bentil make a push for roster spots
Danny Ainge made a couple of great moves late in the draft by selecting Demetrius Jackson with the 45th pick, and then Ben Bentil with the 51st pick. Both of these guys had been regularly mocked as first round draft picks, so to grab them so late could prove to be a genius move if they develop.
Jackson is a scoring guard out of Notre Dame, he could be a guy that comes off the bench and gets buckets. There's only one problem, he'll be behind Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, and Terry Rozier on the point guard depth chart. He needs to play well so the Celtics have a reason to keep 4 point guards on the roster, if not he could be headed to play elsewhere. He's definitely an NBA caliber talent and one I hope the Celtics can take advantage of.
Ben Bentil is a versatile scoring forward out of Providence College, he averaged 21 points and almost 8 boards a game during his sophomore season at Providence. He is a guy who can shoot from distance and could be a high energy big off the bench for the Celtics. Right now, his major weaknesses are rebounding and defense, which are things the Celtics really need to focus on refining. Boston is already a middle of the pack rebounding team, so adding a guy who can't rebound and isn't the best defender doesn't sound smart. However, Bentil does have potential to strengthen these faults and if he performs well in the summer league he could justify that he deserves a spot on the roster.