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Biggest Celtics Takeaways From The Vegas Summer League

2018 NBA Summer League - Las Vegas - New York Knicks v Boston Celtics

Hopefully this morning’s blog helped you come to terms with the harsh reality that we are now months away from seeing the Celtics play any level of basketball. Now that your tears have dried, it’s time to take a step back and look and the entire picture. What was good, what was bad, who stood out, who disappointed, and if there’s anything we should keep in the back of our minds once training camp and preseason hits. Unfortunately I had hoped when it came time to right this blog that we would have a shit ton of stuff to talk about really the only rookie the Celtics will have (more on this later), but instead we’re going to be able to focus on guys that should actually crack the rotation. I shouldn’t have to preface the blog with this but I will anyway. These should obviously be taken with a giant grain of salt, we all know there is a different level from Summer League to the regular season and then the regular season to the playoffs, but that does not mean everything we saw the last few weeks is completely useless. At this point of the summer all we’re looking for is nuggets of improvement. With that said, let’s get started

Jabari Bird

Vegas stats: 16.8 points 6.0 rebounds 3.0 assists 1.8 steals 57/60% splits

Unfortunately Jabari played in only 4 of the 6 games while in Vegas, but I think we can all agree we are leaving with a great amount of positivity in regards to Bird’s development. He gave us a little taste at the end of last season, so it was great to see him immediately flourish the second he stepped on the court this summer. With the possibility to replacing Nader on the full time roster added to the fact that Bird is a RFA, you could say this was a fairly important summer for everyone to see just what Bird brings to the table.

Obviously what stood out right away was his offense, and to me the efficiency in which he was able to score in this new role of a go to option. He led the team in FGA with 12.2 a night and had the best FG% on the team. Bird gave us a little bit of everything in his offensive arsenal, whether it was erection inducing dunks, to moving off the ball like he was Avery Bradley repeatedly cutting to the open space, to his consistent three point shot, there is nothing we saw this summer that tells us Jabari Bird is not an NBA player.

It had been reported that the biggest thing the Celtics were focused on with Jabari was his defense, and despite that being tough to gauge at this level, it’s almost certain that he will find himself on an NBA roster somewhere.

Yabu

Vegas stats: 12.8 points 5.8 rebounds 2.2 assists 41/30% splits

Yabu is probably the most controversial player on the entire roster. Some people (the Celtics included) acknowledge his skillset and potential is worth keeping around, others refuse to accept it and consider him a bust pick who will not even make the final roster. To be honest, his performance in Vegas was somewhere in the middle. He certainly had his moments where he absolutely looked like a guy who could be your 10th man, and then other times it was clear how much of a long way he still has to go. The one thing I wish we saw from him was a little bit better efficiency, but from a skillset standpoint he proved that he can knock down threes, score off the dribble, and is turning into a pretty damn good passer out of the post. Those are all things that will help him secure a spot and thrive in his opportunity if given. He spent a lot of time this summer playing both the 4 and the 5 which as we know is important due to how much of a hard on Brad gets when he thinks about lineup versatility.

But with the pros were clearly some cons. For example Yabu still showed some rough spots when it came time to score over bigger defenders in the paint, he’s still struggling (just like everyone else on this team) with point blank shots,  and there were times he looked a little lost on the defensive end when it came to specific rotation responsibilities. To me that’s the biggest thing he’ll have to show is not an issue during training camp. For Yabu it’s defense and rebounding first, make awesome momentum threes second.

For the most part I was pleased with what I saw from Yabu given what he showed at times during the regular season, I’d just like to see him a little more crisp on the defensive end once the games start to matter

Semi Ojeleye

Vegas stats: 12.4 points 4.2 rebounds 1.8 assists 42/33% splits

Another guy I was extremely excited to see once the Summer League started, Semi’s focus was clearly his outside shooting and offensive development. Granted he wasn’t the most efficient in his 5 games, but it was clear that his confidence on that end is increasing. His shot looks way more fluid and to me that has to do with his confidence and improved mechanics, and watching Semi play he was one of those guys that just looked different, like the Summer League talent level was a smidge below where he is as a player.

One thing we know is that if Semi’s offensive improvement is in fact real, his ability to guard legit 4 positions is going to make it very hard for Brad to keep him on the sidelines. The question then becomes who’s minutes does he eat into? Is there room to carve out 15 minutes a night for him on a consistent basis? I can’t imagine Smart/Rozier are going to lose that much time, and you also have to factor in the 30+ minutes that Hayward is set to get, so it’ll be interesting to see just where Brad plays Semi. They guaranteed his deal yesterday so he is here to stay, and I cannot wait to see what his 2018-19 season looks like. The guy is putting in the work

Hassan Martin

Vegas stats: 10.0  points 6.0 rebounds 55/0% splits

Look I’ve made it clear how I feel about Martin. I need him to snag one of those open two way spots more than you need air to breathe. Did you know he shot 90% from the FT line this summer? 90%!! Be still my heart.

In all honesty, between his jacked frame, tenacity on the glass, and low post scoring ability, you could not build a better fit for the end of the Celtics bench than Hassan Martin. He averaged nearly 3 OREB a night, and I don’t care what the competition is, that’s the type of energy I want my big men to have. During his time in Vegas Martin had a 101 Drtg, finishing with the third best net rating at +18.6. I know you can’t look too deep into stuff like this, but I can assure you that is not stopping me. Add in his 16.9 REB% which led the team, and as you can see Martin is checking all the boxes for me. He even had a 14.5 OREB%!! I need to take a breath before I start getting too worked up at work my lord.

Robert Williams

Vegas stats: 4.0 points 2.0 rebounds 50/0% splits

The only thing I can say about Robert Williams’ summer is that I have no idea how to evaluate it because we saw him play for 6 minutes. Sure those 6 minutes looked like perhaps the most dominant 6 minutes in the history of the sport, but it’s still not fair to form an opinion one way or the other. The one thing we do know is that the Celtics are being ridiculously cautious with his health, and I can’t really fault them for taking that approach. I was certain we would forget all about his drama the second he stepped onto the court and blocked a million shots, but instead we’re just left with more questions than answers. It also doesn’t help that Mitchell Robinson tore shit up during his summer run.

Here’s to crossing our fingers and hoping for the best, but I can’t lie and say I wasn’t disappointed with how things played out.

The Rest

I would say guys like Pierria Henry and Trey Davis had decent showings, both making it clear that someone should pay them to play basketball whether that’s in the G-League or overseas. We obviously already know the fate of Kadeem Allen, and to his credit Jarrod Uthoff had his moments outside of the complete disaster we saw last night. I wouldn’t say any of these guys are going to make the Celtics roster, but with an open two way you never know (especially if Bird is going to get signed to the full time roster).


All in all, I’d say I got what I needed to see outside of Williams from this years Summer League team. It answered questions I had about Semi’s offense, Bird’s development, and if Yabu is actually more than a Twitter joke (again, he is). It gave us some pleasant surprises like Hassan Martin, and served its purpose to fill the slow part of the sports calendar with some actual legit basketball. So I’m curious, now that you know my thoughts on how everything went down, what were you most impressed with? What are you walking away with that you didn’t feel before the games started? It’s Monday afternoon so let’s kill some time and talk about it in the comments below.