Jabari Bird gives the Celtics more agility, length, and versatility.
Heading into the Boston Celtics summer league all eyes were focused on the energetic first-round pick, Robert Williams. Minutes into his debut, Williams suffered an injury forcing his exit. Following this injury, Celtics guard Jabari Bird made his presence known.
Bird, a six foot six lightning-quick shooting guard was one of the Celtics forgotten late second-round selections of last year. Selected with the 56th pick, many experts believed he would be a stash player for the Celtics to develop in the G league.
Alongside fellow PAC 12 guard and second-round pick Kadeem Allen, Bird saw little NBA action in his rookie year and to judge him on his few NBA outings hurts his case. He played only 13 games and only 4 of which were for over 10 minutes. Many of these games came at the end of the year and against sub-par teams.
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Bird’s G league performance was good but not great. In his 20 G league starts, he averaged 19.3 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He struggled to find his shot, only shooting a sub-par 32.5% from beyond the arc. He got to the free throw line three times a game but only converted on 59.7% of his attempts.
Bird’s G league season could be characterized as unusual, unusual because he was known as a deadly three-point shooter in college. Playing in the PAC 12 in his junior year, he was 9th in 3 point percentage, and as a senior finished 4th in three-pointers made.
During his junior year, Bird played on a highly skilled California team where he was the third or fourth option behind NBA players Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb, and Tyrone Wallace. Bird might have a different draft trajectory given his unselfishness in letting Brown and Rabb shine in the spotlight.
It’s important to stress that Bird is not a ball handler and nor should he be considered a replacement for Shane Larkin. The signing of Brad Wanamaker, a versatile and physical point guard, will most likely be Larkin’s replacement.
Bird’s mobility and agility make him a constant moving target on offense.
Despite his slump in shooting, he is a talented basket cutter.
He knows angles and understands when to spring backdoor.
Taking stock of Jabari Bird right now, the Celtics would be smart to re-sign him to a low-cost deal given a relatively dry free agency market. He already knows the system, he is versatile, and he has an extra year of playing alongside Jaylen Brown.
Given their war chest of versatile wings and guards, Bird would be another piece to Brad Stevens’s positionless basketball puzzle.