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The Summer Celtics May Be Over, But Their Week In Vegas Was Nothing Short Of Spectacular

David Dow. Getty Images.

I miss them already. It hasn't even been 12 hours since the Summer Celts run in Vegas has come to an end and I can't help it. I miss them. Despite missing out on the title game because of some bullshit point differential and then dropping their finale with only 8 players active, these past 10 days in Vegas were a smashing success for our beloved Summer Celts. Pretty much everything we were hoping to see we got throughout the week, and there's nothing like getting drunk on Summer League hype with players who almost assuredly won't be playing any sort of significant role once the actual NBA season rolls around. What else are you supposed to do in July?

But now that the fun is over the hard part sets in. We now have to wait until what, October to see the Celts play again? That feels insanely far away. How can you say with certainty we'll even make it as a society until October. Shit's rough out there right now and it doesn't look to be getting better anytime soon. It's July 17th, we're nowhere close to training camp/preseason games. The only thing we have to hold onto is waiting for Brad to tell us who he's rounding out the last 3 guaranteed roster spots with, but even that could take us the rest of the summer. 

So what can we do? We can talk about last night and really what we saw overall throughout this year's stint in Vegas. Take your time, soak these highlights in, because they are going to have to last you quite a while. Let us begin.

The Good

- It is at this stage of the blog that congratulations are in order. One of the most competitive aspects of the entire Summer League experience isn't guys competing for roster spots or even a job on any G-League team if they can get it. It's the race in the Summer League Crush Standings. First, a quick jog down memory lane when it comes to this race for my heart. Sometimes, the process works exactly how it should and the winner ultimately becomes someone awesome. Sometimes it doesn't. The heart cannot predict the future, but it knows what it wants and knows what it takes to earn that final rose. 

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You look at the names in the top spot or the top 2 spots, this process usually hits. Which brings us to the 2022 race. Here are the final results

Talk about a run for Kab. He was unranked when the week in Vegas started, and by Game 2 he was in the top spot and he never let it go. By far the most complete week of any Summer Celtic we saw heading into the final game, the finale was no different

For the week Kabengele finished at 14.8/8.2/2.4/2.4/2.2 on 58/40% splits with 1.2 3PM a night. Anyone who watched this team play could tell right away that he was having the best week and was playing his way onto this roster one way or another. He was simply too good and too consistent while playing a position of need that it made too much sense. So what does Brad do? He checks his Twitter, sees who won the race for my heart, and then does this

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Boom. So not only does Kab walk away from Vegas with the final rose, he also walks away with an NBA job. What a week for the guy and I couldn't be happier for him. He was awesome. On a team that knows how to run unstoppable and successful lobs, his vertical threat is going to fit right in. His rebounding was solid and you can tell his rim protection and loud blocks are in his blood. With a Two Way, he'll be able to get consistent run in Maine to get reps and improve, but then I can absolutely see him getting spot minutes here or there on nights when Al gets load managed. 

Of all the things that stood out to me about Kab's week, it has to be the consistency in which he was able to knock down open threes from the top of the arc. When the week began and I saw him make his first three, I thought it was more of a prayer than an actual weapon. Well shit, by the end of the week I was finding myself getting mad when he wasn't taking that top of the arc three. If that truly is real, Brad did it again. 

The interesting thing is that he ended up with the Two Way to begin with. I think most people were talking about him getting one of the guaranteed roster spots, so this tells us that Brad either has his 3rd center commitment already, or they have a list of guys they are about to go and target. As a Two Way, Kab would not be eligible for the playoffs unless the Celts converted his deal. That could happen, but I think it's more likely that Brad has a legit vet minimum player at that spot for the entire year and then brings Kab up and down over the course of the season. That would leave 3 guaranteed roster spots to go to round out the roster. Is it Ryan/Thomas/Vet min? I could see that. 

- People would tweet me wondering why I was so high on Juhann entering this week. I just see the vision, I don't know how else to explain it. The skillset and size translates. At only 19 years old, the potential is worth investing in. As the week went on, I think more and more people started to see what I see. Juhann got better and better as each game went on and he got more comfortable, and by the 5th game he had pretty much reached his peak form. Watching everyone warm up yesterday, something looked different with Juhann. I was watching him go through the layup line and I couldn't help but get this vibe

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Well…….

You guys have to understand, I watch a lot of Celtics basketball. As in, every single dribble of every single game, no matter what point of the calendar it takes place. Some might argue that's a little too much. Because of this, sometimes I get these feelings, and when I do I have to tweet them out. Mostly so if they pan out I can immediately go back and RT it while if it doesn't I'll simply ignore it and keep things moving. That's how this works. I knew watching Juhann that he was locked in. I think that's sneaky one of the things I really like about Juhann. His demeanor. I don't think I saw him smile once all week, even as he was murdering opposing players or knocking down threes, or finishing in transition. He was stone faced every single time, good or bad. Considering I just watched the NBA roster drastically struggle with mental toughness at times, the fact that a 19 year old was so composed at all times absolutely caught my attention.

In the finale, Juhann did everything. He carried the scoring early with 12 points right away, and it was the first time we saw him really succeed as a jump shooter. Throughout the week I talked about how his good form and success at the FT line made me believe his jump shooting could come around. Look at Juhann's shot chart from this game

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I can't remember too many times we saw him make 4 separate jumpers in a game, three of which came from behind the arc. You know what that picture also is? A look at how basketball is played in the NBA in 2022. Threes and dunks/layups. We knew the defense and finishing at the rim were already there and that was confirmed again this summer, but Juhann's next step has always been if he could show development as a shooter. Hard to not love the answer so far to that question. For the week he finished at 18.2/5.6/2.4/1.8 on 42/33% splits and that scoring average was good for 14th in all of Vegas, even with his 5 games played. As you watched him play it was evident that early in the week when he got off to slow starts and maybe didn't have the confidence, his jump shot struggled. By the end of the week with him getting off to much better starts led to a much higher confidence level and suddenly the jumper looked vastly improved. That's pretty typical when you're talking about a teenager.

As enticing as it might be to have him on the roster, we need to be strong and stay committed to his development plan until Brad tells us otherwise. Go back to Europe, play one more year and then come back next summer after taking another leap and there will be a roster spot waiting for him. Juhann is that good. 

- If I told you that Brad Stevens found the best point guard in Vegas with the 53rd pick, you'd probably just call me a homer or Green Teamer or whatever. But then I would simply ask you to first look at this graphic, and then when you're done with that click play on the video below it

After he dropped 28/5/10 in the win against the Grizzlies, JD backed that up with a decent 17/6/10 in the finale. If you were curious, he finished the week 1st in all of Vegas in assists, 1st in all of Vegas in terms of blocks per game as a point guard, and a final line of 13.0/4.8/8.2/1.2/1.2 on 43/46% splits. Monster. So when I say that JD was the best point guard in Vegas, I'm not really joking. This was better production and fewer turnovers than someone like Josh Giddey had, who would probably be many people's answer to that initial question. Brad found it with the 53rd pick.

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While YouTube told me there would be dunks and we really only got that one at the end of this game, I walk away from this week so impressed with JD's vision and passing. Not just the lobs which were awesome but also his ability to read the defenses coming off the P&R. We saw what the athleticism can do in terms of getting into the land and drawing defenders, and I love the fact that KD keeps his head up at all times and has the willingness and the touch to execute the right pass. I already cannot wait to see him playing with Rob in the preseason. 

He does still find himself dribbling into traffic and there still needs to be some improvement with his touch around the rim, especially on his floaters, but I really cannot wait to see what he looks like against a little better defensive competition. There were some issues with ball pressure which was to be expected, but now that he's seen it and can build off it I want to see what it looks like against preseason rosters. It didn't take us long to see what Brad sees in him and what the Celts think he might be able to develop into, and honestly, anything you get from the 53rd pick is gravy. If that player actually pans out? You hit a grand slam.

- 10-11 from the FT line. Love that. FTs don't just matter during the year or in the playoffs, they matter at all times. Even in practice. 

The Bad

- I don't know what goes on at halftime of these games, but I can say with certainty there were no Ime motivational speeches. Celts struggled in the 3rd quarter basically every game this week, and their 17 points last night was ultimately what lost them the game. That and their love of going the first 3-4 minutes of the fourth quarter without scoring. Boy was that the type of triggering I didn't really need. It felt like every time JD went out the offense stalled, then guys like him and Juhann would check back in and get the led back up to like 7, only for the bench to come back in and blow it. Again, that was a level of triggering I did not need.

- Playing 8 guys was tough and you could tell guys were starting to lose their legs. All you have to do is look at the shooting splits of everyone not named Kab/KD/Juhann.

Justin Jackson went 4-15. Dawkins went 2-9, Bone was 1-4, Reeves 2-5 and Trevion 3-10. That's….pretty gross. Meanwhile while on one end the Celts were missing every shot they took, they decided to also not get stops on the other end. Can't say that's the best strategy I've ever seen.

- After holding Cam Thomas in check for the first half, he dominated the second. The Summer Celts gave up 56 points over the final 20 minutes which is pretty terrible, and when it came time to get a stop once they cut it to 2 late in the fourth, naturally they immediately gave up 6 points in two possessions. Defense was an issue all week and is a big reason why they missed out on the title game. Had they shown the ability to get stops, they'd have a higher point differential and who knows probably are competing for that ring today. 

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- People told me to expect it, but I still wasn't really prepared for how bad Trevion Williams is defensively. I mean Jesus. It doesn't matter what position you are, if you can even somewhat put the ball on the floor you're going to get by him. Of all the players we were hyped to see this week, I feel like Trevion had the worst showing. Now that we know he isn't getting the Two Way, I wonder what happens next. Does he get a camp invite and somehow just join the Maine roster? Does another team offer him a Two Way? As intoxicating as the passing is, the defense was just so, so poor. My guess is that played a role in Kab getting the Two Way nod.

The Ugly

- Aside from choking away an 11 point lead in about 1:45 to end the first quarter, the worst part about last night is exactly what I said to start this blog. We had to say goodbye. The Summer Celts rarely disappoint and I already cannot wait for next summer. Maybe Yam finally makes back it over. Remember Yam? Hopefully by next summer we won't have to use this team as a way to block out our depression over choking away an NBA title and instead can use it to further celebrate what is a redemption and banner raising 2022-23 season. Win the real thing first, then come back to Vegas and win the fake thing too. That's the goal.

Now we wait. The Fournier TPE expires tomorrow and Brad has some decisions to make. What those end up being is anyone's guess, but I'm pretty sure he's going to nail it because through two years the man simply has not missed yet.