Summer Celtics Could Be Most Talented Group Yet

BOSTON – The 2017 Summer Celtics may wind up being the most talented group of youngsters Boston has ever collected for Summer League play.

Don’t believe us? Let’s make a case.

The Celtics could have up to nine internal draft picks on this year’s team. That would be the case if all of their youngsters return and they make all of their picks during this month’s Draft.

To put that into perspective, the team has never had more than eight drafted players on a single summer league team in the last 11 years, and that accounts for league-wide drafted players, not just picks by Boston.

To further the case, Boston is currently slated to have a No. 1 pick and a No. 3 pick on the court this summer. Jaylen Brown has already told Danny Ainge that he plans to play, as was reported by Adam Himmelsbach of the Boston Globe, and the team owns the rights to the top pick in this year’s Draft.

Brown last summer became the second top-three pick to ever play for Boston’s summer league team, joining Chauncey Billups, another No. 3 pick in 1997. Now the team is in line to have two top-three picks, including a No. 1 selection, on the same team. That is high-level talent that the C’s have simply never had before.

And let’s not forget about another lottery-level talent who could be donning green and white come July: Ante Zizic. Boston selected Zizic 23rd overall during last year’s Draft and stashed him overseas, where the 7-footer excelled for a year. Some talent evaluators have said that Zizic could have been a top-10 pick in this year’s Draft had Boston not snagged him up a year ago.

The combination of the No. 1 pick, Brown and Zizic would headline a talented team of Celtics youngsters. Guerschon Yabusele is not likely to participate in Summer League play as a result of the minor foot surgery he underwent in May to remove bone spurs.

Here’s a full list of the players who are in position to be on the roster, as well as their likelihood of playing this summer.

No. 1 Overall Pick – Very Likely

The Celtics own the No. 1 pick in this year’s Draft, and that player is almost certain to play for the Summer Celtics if Boston uses the pick. This player would be the marquee name in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, especially considering that the 76ers have already announced that last year’s No. 1 overall pick, Ben Simmons, will not be playing this summer.

Jaylen Brown – Very Likely

Brown looked great as a rookie in Las Vegas, where he averaged 16.0 points and 6.2 rebounds per game as a rookie. After playing a substantial role for a team that went to the Conference Finals, he’s destined to come back and play at an even higher level this summer.

Demetrius Jackson – Very Likely

Demetrius Jackson split the season between the Celtics and the Maine Red Claws. He averaged 14.9 points, 6.0 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game with Maine and should see plenty of playing time this summer.

Abdel Nader – Very Likely

Abdel Nader is flying under the radar beneath his more highly-touted teammates, but that shouldn’t be the case. Boston chose Nader with the 58th overall pick last season and he quickly turned into the NBA D-League’s Rookie of the Year and was an All-NBA D-League Second Teamer this past season with the Red Claws. He averaged 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game.

Jordan Mickey – Likely

Jordan Mickey would be playing in his third straight Summer League, which is rare and the reason for his being listed as ‘likely’ rather than ‘very likely.’ Mickey, however, didn’t play much this season with Boston and only went down to Maine for 12 games. He needs – and likely wants – the playing time, so he very well could be on Boston’s roster.

Ante Zizic - Maybe

Zizic drew much attention for his performance overseas this season, of which he ended with Darussafaka Dogus Istanbul. He averaged 9.0 points and 6.7 rebounds per game in 20 Euroleague contests, all while playing only 21.9 minutes per contest. He is likely to play for the Summer C’s if he plans to play in the NBA next season and if Boston resolves some of his contractual details.

Picks No. 37, No. 53 and No. 56 - Likely

The C’s own three second-rounders, with two of the three picks falling in the very range where they found Nader a year ago. These picks will play for the team if Boston makes the selections.

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Now that we know what the roster could look like, here’s how it could stack up against some of the best teams the C’s have put forth during past summers. Here’s a few that stand out:

2005 – Seven Drafted Players, Five First-Rounders

This group was loaded with first-rounders, led by the likes of Tony Allen, Gerald Green, Al Jefferson, Kendrick Perkins and Delonte West. But none of those players were selected higher than 15th overall.

2012 – Eight Drafted Players, Five First-Rounders

Another crop of five first-rounders was headlined by Jared Sullinger, but he and E’Twaun Moore were the only players on the team to attain success in the NBA.

2007 – Six Drafted Players, Two First-Rounders

The number of drafted players wasn’t as high as the teams listed above, but the quality of players was right on par. Rajon Rondo, Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Leon Powe were all on that team and went on to win a title with Boston. Green was also on the team before being traded to Minnesota in the Kevin Garnett deal.