Maybe it’s the surname, but Jabari Bird generated more excitement than a second round pick who played on a two-way contract than could have ever been expected. In total, Bird played 114 minutes over 13 games for the Boston Celtics, with most of his appearances coming late in the season. He averaged 3.0 points per game, but shot an interesting 57.7 percent from the field.
Bird’s breakout game came in a win over the Chicago Bulls, when he played 24 minutes while Boston sat several regulars. He scored 15 points on 7-of-15 shooting from the field. He followed that up with a nine point effort against the Atlanta Hawks and then closed the year with his first career start and seven points against the Brooklyn Nets in the season’s final game.
It was with the Maine Red Claws in the NBA G-League where Bird showed his stuff. He started all 20 games he played with Maine and averaged 19.3 points per game on nearly 52 percent shooting. More importantly, he showed promise as a rebounder and playmaker. He often functioned as the primary ball handler for Maine and showed he could make plays for himself and his teammates off the bounce. Bird did miss a large chunk of the NBAGL season after suffering a back injury in late January. He recovered from that that in time to play for the Celtics late in the year.
Bird was drafted with the 56th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft out of California. He was a four-year player for the Golden Bears, teaming with fellow Celtic Jaylen Brown in 2015-16. Bird enters the 2018 offseason with the potential to be a restricted free agent, should Boston tender him a qualifying offer. Given the Celtics cap situation and the low tender for Bird (a second two-way contract), it seems like Boston will do so. That will give them the right to match any offer sheet he may sign. Look for Bird to be in the mix to garner a standard NBA contract to help will out the roster.
With far less fanfare, Kadeem Allen actually played more games for the Celtics than Jabari Bird. Allen appeared in 18 games and played 107 minutes for Boston in 2017-18. Like Bird, he was also signed to a two-way contract after being drafted in the second round.
Allen actually drew a start for Boston against the Milwaukee Bucks in early April, when he was the lone healthy point guard on the Celtics roster. Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier and Shane Larkin were all out with various injuries, leaving Brad Stevens to call upon the rookie to start and play 22 minutes. Allen followed that up with 17 minutes the next night. Those two contests comprised his most extensive playing time until the season’s final game, when Stevens emptied the bench and Allen played 24 minutes.
Like Bird, Allen was a mainstay for the Red Claws. He started 33 of the 34 games he played in the NBAGL, and averaged 34.5 minutes per game. He scored 17.7 points, while handing 4.9 assists and grabbing 5.5 rebounds a contest. He came to the NBA with a reputation for being a tough, physical perimeter defender and that showed in the G-League, as he averaged over two steals per game.
Allen signed a two-year, two-way contract after being drafted with the 53rd pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. That means he’ll be back with the Celtics for the 2018-19 season, barring something unexpected. With Boston lacking a second round pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, Allen’s spot on the roster should be safe. Expect to see him in training camp and preseason, as the Celtics could be a bit short on point guard depth to start the year. Kyrie Irving will still be working his way back from knee surgery, and Marcus Smart and Shane Larkin are both free agents.
Jonathan Gibson was a late-season addition to the roster, as Boston added him using the Hardship Exemption when the team was down four injured players. Gibson played 40 minutes over four games with the Celtics and scored 8.5 points per game.
After playing well and scoring nine points in a win over the Bulls, Gibson exploded for 18 points off the bench in just 24 minutes against the Brooklyn Nets in the last game of the year. He shot 8-of-13 and helped lead the Celtics to their final regular season victory.
Prior to playing for Boston, Gibson had played for Qingdao in the Chinese Basketball Association. He averaged a whopping 33.7 points in over 38 minutes per game. The CBA is not known for its defense, so those stats should be taken with a rather large grain of salt. In the 2015-16 CBA season, Gibson was even better with 41.9 points per game.
The Celtics have the ability to make Gibson a restricted free agent by tendering him a qualifying offer. Boston is unlikely to do so however, as Gibson would likely sign the qualifying offer. What is more likely is that the Celtics non-tender Gibson, making him an unrestricted free agent. They could then bring him back on a more team-friendly training camp contract.
**CelticsBlog would like to thank Tomasz Kordylewski (@TIMI_093 on Twitter) for his tireless efforts to put together highlights of all Celtics players. You can find his invaluable YouTube channel here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsvPqANw09HyK7jsXUC3kuA