The Boston Celtics announced Saturday that they have assigned rookies James Young and Dwight Powell to their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. Young was the 17th pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft and has played in only 10 minutes this season. Powell was sent to Maine earlier this week for a scrimmage, but late returned to Boston.
On media day, I asked Young if he would be willing to go to the D-League if it meant playing heavy minutes. He said, "Definitely not. If it happens, it happens, but I just want to stay here and get better like that."
More on James Young
More on James Young
It's not easy for a teenager like Young to improve in the NBA when he doesn't play at all. The experience of being around veterans is helpful, but the maturation can still come in Maine, where he'll get the chance to play big minutes and improve on the technical aspects of his game. Young must make huge strides on the defensive end of the floor, but also as a ball handler if he wants to be anything more than a spot-up shooter.
Understandably, Young was reluctant when asked about going to Maine, because the NBA is the platform all players dream about performing on, but if he excels he'll probably find his way back in Boston soon enough.
Here is what I wrote earlier this week on Powell's first D-League assignment:
The Celtics like Powell's versatility as a player, but he never played small forward in his four years at Stanford. In college, Powell played both center and power forward, but he better projects as a combo-forward in the NBA. In Maine, he will get the chance to make the transition to small forward, which will require him to improve on his perimeter shooting and his defense. The best way to improve those attributes is to actually play.
Powell should receive plenty of minutes in the D-League, which could put him in a position to compete for a deep rotational role next season. Powell lacks top-end upside, but his do-it-all abilities have traditionally been valued by Danny Ainge for role players on the end of the bench.
The Maine Red Claws opened their season last night, rallying back from a 17-point deficit to win 111-105. Their next game is on Sunday at 5 PM, but then they don't play again until Friday the 21st. I am just speculating, but I assume Powell and Young will be recalled on the morning after Sunday's game and spend most or all of the week in Boston.
Here are my full scouting reports on James Young and Dwight Powell from my 2014 NBA Draft Guide.