The Maine Red Claws had never had a player bestowed with the prestigious D-League player of the month award, that is until now. December's honor has been awarded to Jordan Mickey, the Celtics' 2nd-round pick from June, 2015 out of LSU who earned a 4-year, $5-million deal right out of the summer league. The team had obvious interest in developing him and it has worked out just how Danny Ainge could've hoped.
MICKEY FEATURE ARTICLE
MICKEY FEATURE ARTICLE
Mickey has been on a tear down on the farm with the developmental crew. In the final month of 2015 he posted absurd averages of 19.6 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 5.4 blocks per game. The most impressive of his December performances was how he capped it off, recording a triple-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 blocks in a win over the Texas Legends.
The NBA's minor league has simply been no match for the 6'8", 240 pound big man who has posted averages of 18.1 points, 10.6 rebounds, and 4.7 blocks per game on 52% shooting in 17 contests. You can't ask much more out of a developing 21-year-old than the dominance he has displayed against lower competition.
So that begs the question, when will we finally see what Mickey is made of when he throws on a green uniform and plays with the big boys?
Brad Stevens and company have given little indication on what the answer to that question is. Mickey hasn't been given a legitimate chance yet this year with the Celtics, only appearing in six minutes of action in garbage time of three games where he has recorded seven points and three rebounds.
Those stats do give him a 68.92 player efficiency rating, which is just over double Steph Curry's 31.68 (of course he isn't even close to being qualified).
But as I've inquired in the past about James Young, what are the C's expecting to get out of Mickey this year if they don't give him any chance at NBA action. My take on the D-League has been the same for quite some time, the NBA needs to emphasize attracting more legitimate young talent to the minor league system for it to work effectively.
While I hate to knock on Mickey's accomplishments up north this season, the competition he's facing is roughly the same or just slightly better than what he was playing against at LSU. Seemingly anytime the C's send down their young NBA talent to Maine they suddenly become the Michael Jordan of D-League play. C's 2012 draft flop Fab Melo once looked like a great player there too, averaging 9.8 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks per game in 2012-13.
Now Melo had issues of course, but what I'm trying to elaborate is that D-League success rarely seems to translate to NBA lessons. Until that league becomes filled with more professional-level talent rather than a majority of amateurs, the best source of productive growth that Mickey can see are minutes with the Boston Celtics.
There are indeed roadblocks in his way, a packed front-court of Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko, Tyler Zeller, and David Lee who all have shown impact on the roster for stretches over the past year or so. While two of them usually get "DNP's" and all seem to struggle with consistency, what's the harm in throwing Mickey into the rotational mix as Stevens continuously states how intrigued he is by the concept of him making an impact on the team?
"I’m really curious, but we do have a [frontcourt] logjam," said Stevens in Chris Forsberg's January 3 piece. "That’s the reality of our situation. And, to his credit, he’s made the most of it by staying in a rhythm by playing up there and I think he’s done a lot of good things. Some things that will really be able to translate, I think. And some things that he just needs to continue to improve upon. He’s closer to ready than ever before because of his continued work."
What's the worst that can happen, he struggles? Have we not seen Olynyk stink it up out there some nights? Sullinger is good for a no-show here and there, and Jerebko has been a question mark for most of the season.
When it comes to the Celtics they could have gone one of two ways this season, stick to their original framework of a rotation and carry it for a long stretch until it can be judged with appropriate sample size or make changes on the fly as problems arise. I think anybody who has watched at least two C's games this year know what road Stevens went down.
So while Boston seemingly switches up their rotational plan with every disappointing loss, how can there be no room for Mickey to get a chance for real minutes in the front court? I'm not saying he's going to change the complexion of the team with his presence, but his shot-blocking ability and high-energy game could be a spark plug that this team needs right now after losing three of their last four games to the Lakers, Nets, and Pistons.
I can see it now, Mickeysanity, all he needs is a shot coach. Put him in the game.