Forget the World Cup. Forget rumors surrounding LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony. This Saturday, July 5th, we’ll have real live Boston Celtics basketball for the first time in what seems like a year when the green take on the Miami Heat summer squad to kick of the 2014 NBA Summer League in Orlando. The Celtics bring an interesting group with them composing of heralded draft picks, undrafted guys, and even a few veterans. Your record in summer league doesn’t matter but the games often can determine whether or not a couple guys make the roster. You may remember Phil Pressey impressed last year in Orlando as an undrafted rookie.
Pressey went on to play 75 games for the Celtics last season. Here, I’ll split the Celtics summer league roster into four different groups. Roster locks, Good chance to make the team, Outside chance to make the team, and Guys just their for the free t-shirts and warmup gear. The players will again coached again by Celtics assistant Jay Larrananga.
Kelly Olynyk, PF, 7′ 0″
It never hurts to practice, and that is why Olynyk is going to Orlando. Celtics fans still have split opinions on the selection of Olynyk in last years draft but he at least showed development as a rookie. He’s one of the teams better shooters and passers despite standing 7′ 0″. Not a great athlete, Olynyk should look to develop his rim protection if he hopes to last in the NBA. But as long as he’s on a rookie contract, he’s safe. He may very well start for the Celtics this season.
Marcus Smart, PG/SG, 6′ 4″
Smart will be the best player on the summer squad and much of the offense should run through him. He’s obviously making the roster this year, and these games in Orlando are your first chance to see him in Celtic green. Should be exciting.
James Young, SG/SF, 6′ 7″
The Celtics other first round pick may miss the entire summer league with a neck strain. He will make the roster obviously and there’s no reason to risk anything with the talented swingman in these meaningless games. He’ll be expected to provide scoring sooner rather than alter this season.
Good Chance to Make Team:
Chris Johnson, SG/SF, 6′ 6″
Chris Johnson was one of the few bright spots for the Celtics last year when he impressed on a couple 10-day contracts and was eventually signed for the rest of the season. His spot on the team, or money, is not guaranteed this year though. Johnson gave the team nice energy off the bench last year and shoots very well from the corners but the selection of James Young, and the Celtics reported free agent targets, don’t bode well for Johnson. He’s proven he belongs on an NBA roster somewhere, and that gives him a chance to make the Celtics. But given the slew of perimeter players, and lack of big men, this team has under contract Johnson may be cut simply because of the numbers game.
Phil Pressey, PG, 5′ 11″
If Pressey gets cut, like Johnson, it will be strictly a numbers game. He’s closer to lock than Johnson though. Pressey proved himself a serviceable backup NBA point guard last season and will only get better as his shot improves. Obviously, he’s limited by what he can do physically. But Pressey is a smart player who averaged 7.7 assists per 36 minutes last season, an impressive number actually higher than that of Tony Parker, Jeff Teague, Kyle Lowry, and Michael Carter-Williams.
Outside Chance to Make Team:
Chris Babb, SG, 6′ 5″
Despite the Celtics signing Babb to a couple of 10-day contracts and eventually the rest of the year, he didn’t produce on a level anywhere near that of Chris Johnson. Babb put up some impressive numbers with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics D-League affiliate, but failed to show his reported “3 & D” ability at the NBA level. In fact, he was pretty terrible as both a shooter and defender. I’ll always root for these undrafted stories, and Babb has a chance to make a team somewhere, but he’s already 24 and the Celtics simply have to0 many younger and/or better guards to give minutes to.
Colton Iverson, C, 7′ 0″
The fact that Iverson is a center and is large bodes well for him. He is really slow on his feet though and hasn’t shown much skill. It was wise for the Celtics to have him play in Turkey last year instead of the D-League. The physicality the refs in Europe allow in the paint is much more similar to that of the NBA than the soft, all contact is a foul, style the D-League goes with. The Celtics traded into the 2nd round of last years draft to get Iverson, so they obviously believe in his ability to preform in the NBA. Given the Celtics current roster, this may be his best shot.
Mike Moser, SF/PF, 6′ 8″
Moser is a mediocre athlete but has great length if you put him at the small forward spot. He has also improved his shooting from deep as he’s surely realized any professional career he has will likely come on the perimeter. He rebounds well but hasn’t shown much development in his perimeter skills. He’s a tweener, a four in a small-ball lineup. He had a strange college career that saw him transfer from UCLA to UNLV and then finally to Oregon where he got on the NBA radar during his senior season. He worked out for 15 teams and was considered a borderline draftable prospect. He has a chance to provide shooting and toughness off an NBA bench as a combo forward, maybe like a poor-mans Matt Barnes.
Moser is a long shot but he’s by far the best undrafted guy the Celtics are bringing to the summer league.
Guys Just There for the Free T-Shirts and Warm-up Gear:
Dairis Bertans, SG, 6′ 4″
Bertans averaged 10.3 points a game in Spain last season. But the Latvian guard lacks ideal NBA size, skill, and athleticism. Considering he’s another guard, no shot this year.
Edwin Jackson, SG, 6′ 3″
Though he has the same name as the enigmatic Chicago Cubs pitcher, Jackson lacks the physical tools. He has been one of the best young players in France over the last few seasons, and his team was recently purchased by Tony Parker, but he doesn’t have the size or athleticism to ever see time in the NBA as a shooting guard. Especially not on this guard-heavy roster.
Devin Oliver, SF, 6′ 7″
The Dayton shooter went undrafted as expected but was quickly added to the Celtics summer league squad. He improved every year in college and there’s an outside chance he could have a career in the NBA due to his shooting and rebounding from the perimeter but it is not this year with the Celtics, that’s for certain.
O.D. Anosike, PF, 6′ 8″
The Staten Island native and Siena product went undrafted last year but managed to latch on with the Nuggets summer league squad. He barely played and is likely only on this squad so they have a big man to spell Olynyk and Iverson.
Daniel Coursey, PF/C, 6′ 10″
Remember when Mercer upset Duke? Remember that large white guy who made Jabari Parker and the rest of the Blue Devils front court look silly? That was Coursey, who went undrafted, but will have a chance to play with the Celtics this summer. Like Anosike, he’s here for post depth. He’s not going to make the team. He only averaged 10.1 points and 6.4 rebounds as a senior in the Southern Conference despite standing 6′ 10″, making him at least two inches taller than most of his competition down low.
That’s the Celtics summer league roster for 2014, folks. Check back for reaction after the game Saturday afternoon.