In a matchup of what is vs. what could have been, the Boston Celtics and Jayson Tatum took on Markelle Fultz and the Philadelphia 76ers. After the pre-draft trade that saw Boston trade the number-one overall pick to Philadelphia for the third overall pick and a future first-round pick, the Sixers drafted Fultz and Boston took Tatum. Both rookies had their moments throughout the game, as Tatum finished with 21 points and the game winner with 5.7 seconds to play. Fultz scored 17 points of his own. But a second-year Celtic was the best player on the floor by a wide margin.
Jaylen Brown scored 17 first-half points on a variety of drives and jumpers on his way to 29 overall. Brown also partially blocked Fultz’s potential game-winning layup attempt. In general, Brown looked exactly like what you want a second year pro to look like in summer league: too good to be there. Brown pushed the Celtics to allow him to play, but if he’s going to dominate like this, the risk outweighs the reward. That could lead to a shorter Summer League appearance for Boston’s prized second-year player.
The other Celtic with the most eyes on him is rookie Ante Zizic. He scored 9 points and grabbed 5 rebounds. He was a bull inside on offense and held his ground on defense. He did get beat down the floor several times by his opposite number. However, it is important to remember he is coming off a long season in Europe, and games in Utah are played at elevation, which is a tough adjustment.
2017 second-round draftees Semi Ojeleye, Kadeem Allen and Jabari Bird all played and were up and down. Ojeleye made some solid passes and held his own defensively. Allen and Bird both struggled some, as was to be expected.
Second-year player Demetrius Jackson had a rough night with 6 points on just 3 for 12 from the floor. He also had a very hard time guarding Fultz. With Boston’s great guard depth, Jackson could be on the roster bubble.
Abdel Nader was the last Celtics draftee to play. He won several awards with the Maine Red Claws after being a draft-and-stash player following the 2016 NBA Draft. His defense was just ok, but he showed off his versatile game by scoring 13 points and pulling down seven rebounds.
The Celtics next play vs the Spurs in Utah Summer League on Wednesday, 7/5 at 7:00 PM EST on NBATV.