A couple of weeks ago, I did a “Ranking the Celtics” series where I split up the Celtics into three different tiers: The Core, The Key Rotation, and the Situational team. The Situation team, though the lowest tier, can go from best bench cheerleader to starter in the blink of an eye. It’s an important role because though they may not be everyday players, they’re expected to give something very specific when they do get an opportunity to play the game. For example, if you’re a sharpshooter that isn’t quite good enough to break the everyday roster, guess what you’re going to be expected to do the second the coach calls your number? That’s right: let it fly.
In front of a lightly crowded gym in Las Vegas, Jabari Bird showed why Boston will heavily consider giving him a roster spot as a Situational team player next season. One of the easiest things an NBA player can do to get on the court is try their hardest on every single possession. Bird has shown just how much trying hard with a dash of being opportunistic can transform a 56th pick to a favorite to land a roster spot on a contender.
In his first two summer league games, Bird showcased an ability to make high impact plays by simply playing off others. He’s an elite cutter who can finish with both hands, he rebounds well for his size, he can defend multiple positions, and he can jump out a gym.
The Celtics have done a fantastic job building a team of multi-positioned ball handlers that can play with the ball in their hands or off each other. What Bird has potential to do is become a cog in the machine as a player who can finish the meals that his teammates cook. With the threat of an opportunistic cutter who can finish or crash for an offensive rebound, defenders are forced into an awkward position when they’re playing against a team that has guys like Kyrie Irving, Al Horford, and Gordon Hayward on the floor. Jabari still needs to show that he is still dangerous if players let him shoot, but once he takes that step, he open the game for himself and any other teammate that shares the floor with him.
So far, so good.