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CelticsBlog exit interview: Abdel Nader

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As the 15th man on a deep roster, will Abdel Nader get another shot?

NBA: Boston Celtics at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Northern Illinois - Iowa St - Maine - Boston

If it feels like we know Abdel Nader pretty well at this point, that’s because he has spent 2 full seasons around the team and the affiliated Maine Red Claws. In 2016-17, Abdel Nader promisingly lit up the G-League with 21 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists per game where he won the Rookie of the Year award. The Celtics front office also have had plenty of time to see what he brings to the table as the the 15th man on an NBA roster. Although a rookie in 2017-18, the body of work for Nader is substantial.

Playing time was patchy for the 24-year-old throughout his rookie campaign and he was overtaken by Semi Ojeleye on the depth chart right from Opening Night, resulting in quite a few DNPs. In a season loaded with injuries, where greater playing opportunities presented themselves to the group, the overall feel was that Nader still wasn’t ready to play a larger role on the team. He wasn’t able to provide bench scoring like he’d done in his former stops at Northern Illinois, Iowa State and the Maine Red Claws. Rewatching the video clips from Maine, Abdel Nader played with a great deal of poise and was confident on the court especially attacking the basket.

NBA: Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

With decent length (6-foot-6, 230 pounds) and athleticism, Nader showed glimpses he could pan out to be a slashing/drive to the basket type role player down the line. He has a decent frame and can absorb contact and draw fouls. In limited minutes, he has also showed he likes the open court and was effective at times playing a fast break style game off the bench. Nader, isn’t ever going to be a lights out shooter, but to his credit, his shot appeared to improve as the season progressed, Nader was 37% from 3 point land in the month of April.

With the second seed secured early, Nader found himself getting meaningful court time to finish the year. Through the month of April, Nader averaged 4.5 ppg and 1.7 rpg in 15 mpg. Those figures aren’t huge, but they are better than RJ Hunter or James Young consistently returned in their brief stints in Boston. To be expected, Nader didn’t see the court much in the playoffs apart from the dying moments of a few blowouts. Abdel Nader is only guaranteed $450K until Wednesday August 1st, 2018, and the Celtics can waive the remainder of his contract if they wish.

NBA: Washington Wizards at Boston Celtics Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Number 15

The battle for roster spots 13 through 15 will likely be fierce again this summer. With the incoming 27th pick from June’s draft and two-way contracts Jabari Bird and Kadeem Allen threatening from the roster fringes, the numbers already appear jammed. News surfaced a few days ago that Abdel Nader is going to miss 2-3 months of basketball activities after successful wrist surgery.

As Tim MacLean notes:

The team expects him to be fully healthy for training camp this fall, the procedure will force him to miss valuable time players typically use to improve their games over the off-season—including Summer League.”

With another off-season of roster tweaks likely coming, Abdel Nader could very well be waived before the August deadline to clear space for others. However, if Danny Ainge manages to make a trade on Draft Day sending out players and picks, Nader has the kind of team friendly contract with options in both 2019 and 2020 which means he could be kept as 15th man once more. He is cheap, versatile and he might blossom into a more serviceable bench player with a full NBA season under his belt.