Analyzing Top Summer League Celtics
ORLANDO, Fla. – There are still five more summer league games to be played by the Boston Celtics, but we’re halfway home and one league is already in the books. The C’s finished atop the Orlando Pro Summer league with a 4-1 record, and several of their players stood out during those five games.
There was a clear pecking order on this roster, and six players stood atop the list from the beginning of the week until the end. Three of them, Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph, were draft picks this year. Another two, JaJuan Johnson and E’Twaun Moore, were draft picks last year. The sixth, Dionte Christmas, is a free agent who played overseas last season.
We now know what these six players bring to the table after seeing them play extended minutes throughout the week. Below is a quick scouting report and analysis of what each of them displayed during their action in Orlando.
Jared Sullinger was one of the top competitors in the entire league. He displayed a lot of passion and played the game the right way. He has a knack for finishing around the basket in awkward ways, and that ability often makes up for his general lack in size as an NBA player. Sullinger proved that he possesses great touch from the free-throw line, where he shot 18-of-20 on the week. He is a very strong rebounder and averaged 8.3 RPG on the week.
Fab Melo showed that he is a player who is still developing, but he also showed great promise in several different aspects. The one that stands out most is his defense. Melo has incredible timing when he contests shots, and his great size and length only help the cause. Those characteristics will surely translate to the NBA. He could become a fantastic defender. Melo also has the potential to be a deadly screener in the NBA. He has a big, wide body and already sets a solid base on his screens. However, he needs to learn to hold those screens for a count longer. Surprisingly, Melo possessed great technique on his jump shot. That doesn’t always translate to made shots, but it gives hope that he’ll one day be able to knock down a 10-15-footer with consistency. The big man is a developing rebounder and pulled in a game-high 10 boards during Friday’s final game.
Kris Joseph showed that despite being the 51st overall pick in this year’s draft, he certainly belongs amongst NBA players. He’s a very skilled wing player who possesses solid length and strength. He shoots the ball very well off of pin-downs and curls, and that’s something that will come in handy in Boston’s offense. Joseph showed aggression offensively and made many plays off of the dribble throughout the week. The one area where he truly struggled was long-range shooting. He shot just 1-of-10 from downtown on the week. That’s something he’ll need to develop as the summer wears on.
Although onlookers may not walk away from this week of action thinking JaJuan Johnson dominated the league, he sure did play well. Johnson averaged 9.2 PPG and 5.6 RPG in the five games. He continued to show that he has a very good jump shot. His go-to move is the face-up jumper, and he was very efficient with that shot this week, both in getting it off and making it. Johnson has been doubted by many as a rebounder because of his lack of bulk, but compared to the rest of the summer league, he had a great week in that department.
You have to love watching E’Twaun Moore play. He’s silky smooth at all times. He doesn’t speed up, nor does he slow down. Sometimes that can be a detriment, but usually it’s a good trait. He did turn the ball over at times this week, but not necessarily off of bad decisions. Remember, he and his teammates were still learning each other, and many of those teammates don’t know the offense as well as he does. Moore showed that he is a lights-out shooter when he’s able to set his feet and get a clean look at the basket. He also displayed the ability to create his own shot, as he finished several attempts off of dribble-drives and made an impressive turnaround jumper from the corner on Friday.
Of all of the players on Boston’s roster, Dionte Christmas might have been the most impressive. He is a do-it-all player and was the most polished player the Celtics ran onto the court this week. He scored with consistency and rarely made poor decisions. As a guard who shoots the ball a lot and also handles the ball a lot, his ability to avoid ugly turnovers is an impressive trait. There are no glaring weaknesses in Christmas’ game, as he scored, rebounded, assisted and defended in every single game this week. He also displayed great footwork at the defensive end and seems to have the foot speed to keep up with shooting guards at the NBA level. Another characteristic, leadership, cannot go unmentioned. He led by example, and he spoke up on the court when he needed to.