LAS VEGAS – The Summer Celtics went 4-2 in Las Vegas. That record accurately indicates that there was far more good than bad to see out of this team during the MGM Resorts Summer League.
Below are some general observations we took from Boston’s 11-day stay on The Strip.
JAY LARRANAGA – HEAD COACH
We were fortunate enough to be granted a full day of access to Boston’s Summer League coaching staff. One thing we learned during that time was that Jay Larranaga, who served as the team’s head coach, can command a room. It’s important for a coach to be able to command respect, and also to be able to teach players, both in the film room and on the court, in a concise manner. They must explain things quickly, and in an easily digestible format. Larranaga does all of that, and his players knew exactly what was expected of them on this team.
SEMI OJELEYE – FORWARD
Semi Ojeleye showed significant growth from last year’s Summer League experience, when he was a rookie. This year, he was far more comfortable, his offense was far more diverse, and his defense was even more problematic for opponents. He was strictly an off-ball shooter last summer and last season. This time around, he showed flashes of being able to not only create shots, but also to make them. He wound up shooting 43.0 percent from the field and 33.0 percent from 3-point range; not great numbers, but he certainly showed progress. Defensively, he was even better in Vegas than he was last season – and that’s saying a lot. Brad Stevens asked Ojeleye to learn how to stay in front of scorers and get into their air space; Ojeleye showed that he can do both, after mainly doing only the former last season.
GUERSCHON YABUSELE – FORWARD
Guerschon Yabusele had some great moments and some questionable moments during Summer League play. The good news is that there were more of the former than of the latter. Boston wants to be able to use Yabusele as a playmaking big man, and Yabusele made some very impressive plays for teammates during his stay in Vegas. He also closed out shooting the ball well Sunday night, when he scored 16 points and shot 4-for-7 from long distance. Yabusele is still developing, and people must understand that. Remember, no one thought Marcus Smart or Terry Rozier were going to be who they are now after they played in their second Summer Leagues. Yabusele showed signs of growth in Vegas, but he still has a lot of room left to improve. He needs more time – and more NBA reps – to fulfil his potential.
JABARI BIRD – GUARD/FORWARD
No player on Boston’s roster made more noise than Bird, who is currently a restricted free agent. He was outstanding during his four games in Vegas, averaging 16.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.8 steals per game, all while shooting 57.0 percent from the field. He scored in every possible way, from athletic drives and finishes, to pull-up jumpers, to canning 3-pointers. He did not play during Boston’s final two games, but he didn’t need to. He already opened eyes all around the league with his all-around game, and he’ll surely be receiving plenty of calls once the league departs its annual stay in Vegas.
ROBERT WILLIAMS – FORWARD/CENTER
Summer League unfortunately was not a very opportunistic experience for rookie big man Rob Williams. Williams played only seven minutes during Boston’s first game in Vegas before suffering a left leg contusion that kept him out of the next five games. He was able to work out privately with the coaching staff, but missing out on game action certainly put a damper on his first few weeks with the team.
TREY DAVIS – POINT GUARD
Trey Davis plays with a great pace, never being sped up by opponents, but always probing the defense for driving and passing lanes. He didn’t play during the first couple of games, but when he did finally get the call, he answered by playing well. He’s not an elite shooter, but he is great at breaking a defense down and creating shots for himself or for teammates. Davis, who grew up with Marcus Smart, also plays as hard as Smart does while he’s on the court. It’s hard not to like that.
HASSAN MARTIN – FORWARD
A few players on this team would fit in just fine on a football team. Hassan Martin is one of them. Martin is a bulky and strong 6-foot-7 forward who showed high-level talent around the basket. He’s a true back-to-the-basket type player who can finish with both hands. The problem is that he’s only 6-foot-7. Still, he was one of the brightest spots on the team among players who are not signed to the C’s. He averaged 10.0 points and 6.0 rebounds per game despite playing only 18.7 minutes per game.