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Rozier, Brown show promise in Celtics open scrimmage

Terry Rozier stole the show during the green-white game, but what else did we learn from the scrimmage?

NBA: Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76ers John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics had a green-white scrimmage last night, and the fact that it was actually live streamed for all to see should let you see the excitement surrounding this team. The game itself wasn’t too exciting, but it did have some interesting storylines that could play apart into the season.

Terry Rozier

Rozier’s path to this point has been an interesting climb of confidence. Those in Boston can’t stop gushing about his development, and last night we got a nice glimpse of it. Going head-to-head against Isaiah Thomas, Rozier not only held his own, but got the best of Thomas in the lone scrimmage game against the starters. Rozier hounded Thomas constantly and showed off an impressive stroke from behind the arc. Though Ainge said that Rozier would most likely be running the offense in the second unit, his improved shooting will allow both him and Smart to simultaneously switch duties. One of Rozier’s most impressive skills offensively was his ability to create for himself with or without a pick. Because defenses have to be wary of his speed, Rozier is able to use quick hesitation dribbles to keep defenders on their heels. From there, Rozier has shown an improved pull-up jumper that will definitely translate to the pro level.

We’ve seen Rozier excel against D-League competition, hold his own in a playoff series, destroy the summer league, and now shine amongst his teammates. The next step will be seeing how his improvements stack up against another NBA roster.

Jaylen Brown

The Jaylen Brown train will be an interesting ride. He held his own against Jae Crowder on the defensive end, forcing Crowder’s first attempt to be a wild fadeaway, and Brown constantly stayed under his jersey whenever they were matched up. Offensively, Brown’s game was more of an adventure. His first attempt was a pretty drive-and-spin move followed by a missed attempt at the rim. Brown rebounded nicely as the game went on though, slamming home two monstrous dunks and showing some impressive poise as a ball handler in the half-court. It probably won’t all come together this season for Brown, but the tools are there, and so will the minutes as long as he defends.

The battle for the 15th man

Last night was the first battle for the last spot on the roster, and both James Young and R.J. Hunter played like they knew it. At this stage it’s clear to say that guys like Jalen Jones, Damion Lee, Marcus Georges-Hunt, and Ben Bentil are most likely camp bodies. That leaves guys such James Young, R.J. Hunter, and even Jordan Mickey (I’ll get to that in minute), on the bubble. Young and Hunter came in later and were matched up on each other, and this situation wasn’t an accident. On their first possession on each other, Young took it to the hole, and Hunter defended nicely, but Young was able to recover and get his own rebound for the finish. We saw the new aggression that Young was supposedly showing during camp in spurts throughout the game as Young got out in transition, threw a nice alley-oop to Amir Johnson, and overall played with a solid motor.

On the other hand, Hunter still looked like the game was moving too fast for him. He did have a nice block on Marcus Smart, but he was otherwise quiet on the court. Before camp started, I thought there was no way in the world Hunter would be this close to the bubble. His sweet-looking jumper, great vision, IQ, and strong wingspan create an image of high potential wing, but it still doesn’t look like it’s clicking for the sophomore. While Hunter has overall skill set on his side, Young is still nearly two years younger and could be a strong preseason away from surviving another year on the roster. However, there could be another dark-horse candidate cut if both Young and Hunter could do enough to stay on the team.

We’ve talked about how Jordan Mickey could be one injury away from having a more expansive role on this team. However, based on his summer league and some early glimpses of the scrimmage, his spot may not be as solidified as previously projected. Mickey hasn’t shown glimpses of the jump shot that made him such an intriguing prospect, and he also has not been particularly noticeable as a perimeter defender or rebounder. If he can’t do these things consistently, he turns into an undersized center on a team that has Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk, Jonas Jerebko, and Tyler Zeller. A silver lining for Mickey is that with Olynyk set to miss most, if not all the preseason, he’ll get more opportunities than he usually would to showcase any summer improvements. But this will be a test, and a lackluster performance could put him on the outside looking in.

What’s next?

The Celtics get their first crack at an NBA team on October 4th when they take on the Ben Simmons-less Sixers. From there they’ll have an away-home set of games starting on October 6th and ending with a home game on the 8th which will featured on NBATV. They’ll then end the preseason with a trip to New York to face the Nets and Knicks before they come back home to conclude their preseason against the New York teams. Make sure you keep checking in on the site for all your preseason coverage.

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