Summer League First Impressions: Celtics 102 – Sixers 94

The Celtics summer league squad made a great first impression monday night.

The Jaylen Brown hype train has no brakes, and it picked up a lot of steam last night as the Celtics summer league squad took down Ben Simmons’ Sixers squad in an uncharacteristically physical and fast paced summer league game. I’m sure Brown wanted nothing more to come out ahead of Simmons after he dunked on a kid to assert his dominance before he played a single minute against NBA talent.

 Neither Brown nor Simmons had a good night from the floor, but I would say Brown made a strong first impression on Simmons:

 Simmons shot 2-9 while Brown went 2-7 (including a deep three pointer), but Brown earned himself 17 free throws to Simmons’ six, although Brown “only” hit 11 of his 17 while Simmons never missed.

Here’s what you won’t find on the stat sheet. Brown was aggressive. I’m not saying I expect him to take 17 free throws per game, but if you look at some of the game’s better scorers, they take a lot of free throws. Dwyane Wade and James Harden are two slashers who come to mind who I could see shooting 2-7 and somehow scoring 30 points by getting to the line. Jaylen Brown is also just as athletic as those guys. Not to get too ahead of myself, but I’m just saying. I like what I’m seeing.

Aside from Brown’s 16 points, the offense was also carried by RJ Hunter’s 17 and Terry Rozier’s 18, who combined for 5-10 from deep. These two both played relevant playoff months this year, so I’m not totally surprised that they can play summer league games with such confidence, but I’m always happy to see young talent develop. Even James Young, who I had admittedly given up on, hit a respectable three out of eight field goals, but also took the initiative to attack the basket multiple times, a facet of his game that was sorely lacking last year. Young was also 2-2 from deep, for what that’s worth.

Guerschon Yabusele’s debut was somewhat ungraceful. I don’t care about the 1-5 shooting, but he was consistently late or just plain lost on defensive rotations, which doesn’t bode well for a guy who says he doesn’t want to go back to Europe. Yabu has a strength and size advantage over most forwards and can clearly use that to his advantage on the offensive end, but I would hate to see his weight hold him back on the other side. Even if he shed some weight, poor defensive is sometimes an indicator of low basketball IQ, which is hard to impart on a player at this point. Yabusele is still young, so we’ll see what he can do against Utah tonight.

Finally, Ben Bentil. I’m buying all the Ben Bentil stock until the market crashes as I still have no idea how he fell to 51 in the draft. My main takeaways from last night are exactly what I expected: very skilled offensively, but still needs to figure out defensively. 11 points and six boards is about as good as it gets with how well distributed the scoring was, so I’m looking forward to game two vs. Utah tonight.

Quick final note: this summer league roster is totally stacked. It’ll be near impossible for me to keep my hype levels down. Rarely do you see so many NBA-ready guys on one summer league roster.

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