This game between the Boston Celtics and Atlanta Hawks kicks off the Las Vegas Summer League at UNLV in Las Vegas. It is the first game on the schedule with 7 more games following this one on Sunday. Games at 4, 6, 8 and 10 are at the Cox Pavilion while games at 4:30, 6:30, 8:30, and 10:30 will be at the Thomas and Mack Center. All games will be televised on NBA-TV or ESPN2. You can find the schedule here: https://www.nba.com/summer-league/2021/vegas/schedule.
As with any Summer League game, it is hard to say who will start any game as coaches are looking to mix and match lineups and give every player a chance to get minutes to show what they can do. I imagine that the 4 current Celtics will get a big share of the minutes as they will be a part of the rotation this season as things stand now. I am just listing the rosters rather than giving starting lineups and reserves.
The Celtics will field an interesting team with 5 undrafted players, 2 draft and stash players, and 4 current Celtics. Sam Hauser went undrafted but was signed right after the draft to a 2-way contract. Miami also sought to sign him to their Summer League team. He was considered by some to be one of the best outside shooters in the draft, shooting 43.9% on 3 pointers over his career at Virginia. He should also be more NBA ready after spending 4 years in college.
Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith are coming off their rookie seasons with the Celtics. Carsen Edwards and Romeo Langford are coming off their 2nd season with the Celtics, although Langford spent much of the time on the injured list. Aric Holman and Dedric Lawson both went undrafted in 2019. Both played some in the G-League and also some in Europe. KJ Lawson went undrafted in 2020 and played in the British Basketball League. Zach Auguste went undrafted in 2016 and has been playing in Greece.
Atlanta also brings a mix of draft picks, undrafted players and NBA players on their team. They have a couple of 4 year NBA players who have been around the league Jordan Bell and Eric Moreland. Admiral Scholfield has played 1 year in the NBA after being a 2nd round pick of the Wizards. Skylar Mays played for Atlanta in 33 regular-season games and six playoff games in the 2020-21 season. They also have draft picks and undrafted players on their roster.
The Celtics will be playing every other day with games vs Denver on Tuesday, Orlando on Thursday, and Philadelphia on Saturday. After these games, there will be a playoff type tournament that will culminate in a championship game on August 17.
Celtics Summer League Participants
Juhann Begarin 6’5” G
Sam Hauser 6’8” F
Aric Holman 6’9” C
Dedric Lawson 6’7” F
KJ Lawson 6’7” F
Yam Mader 6’3” G
Payton Pritchard 6’2” G
Zach Auguste 6’10” C
Carsen Edwards 5’11” G
Romeo Langford 6’4” G
Aaron Nesmith 6’6” F
Head Coach: Joe Mazzulla
Players to Watch
Mader was drafted by the Celtics in 2020 and he played last season in Israel. He has made considerable strides as a shooter, an area that the Celtics asked him to improve. He has proved to be a capable ball handler and a smart defender in the Israeli league. He needs to show that he can be consistent with his shot and defense and also that he can run an NBA offense in order to have a chance at staying with the team this season.
Begarin was drafted by the Celtics with the 45th pick in the 2021 draft. He was expected to be a draft and stash player and at first was not expected to play in Summer League. He had other thoughts, though, and asked Brad Stevens if he could play and show them what he can do. He is 6’6” with a 7’ wing span and is very athletic and has all the tools to be an excellent defender. He is young and needs to work on his shot, however. He will be looking to impress the team that drafted him.
The quartet of current Celtics - Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, Aaron Nesmith, and Payton Pritchard.
The Celtics hopes for a good season will largely rest on the improvement of their young players including these 4. All have shown some flashes in their careers so far, but injuries and the pandemic have made things difficult for them. This has been Langford and Nesmith’s first healthy offseason and they are looking to impress the team with their improvement.
Hawks Summer League Participants
Jalen Johnson 6’9” F
Sharife Cooper 6’1” G
Skylar Mays 6’4” G
Jeremiah Martin 6’3” G
Justin Jaworski 6’3” G
Juwan Durham 6’11” F
Ibi Watson 6’5” G
Max Heidegger 6’3” G
Admiral Schofield 6’5” F
Naz Carter 6’6” G
Eric Moreland 6’10” F
Javin DeLaurier 6’10” F
Jordan Bell 6’8” F
Head Coach: Matt Hill
Players to Watch
Johnson was selected No. 20 in the 2021 draft. He played just 13 games at Duke as a freshman, averaging 11.2 points. In his first game at Duke, he had 19 points and 19 rebounds, which shows his potential. He was not expected to drop to number 20 and the Hawks were very happy to get him there. There are a lot of questions surrounding him since he left Duke early but he is very athletic and can play both forward spots. He also has a 7’ wingspan.
Cooper was drafted by Atlanta with the 48th pick in the 2021 draft. He also was not expected to drop that far. He is a tough guard who is a good playmaker. He averaged 20.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 4.3 rebounds for Auburn last season. His shooting needs some work as he shot just 39% from the field and 22.8% from beyond the arc.
Jordan Bell has played for Golden State, Minnesota, Memphis, and Washington over a 4 year career since being drafted in the 2nd round in 2017. He has shown some flashes over those 4 years along with some problems. In 2017, he bounced a ball of the backboard to himself and dunked it in a 133-112 blow out vs Orlando. This sparked a debate over sportsmanship among fans and players alike. He was also suspended in 2019 by the Warriors for conduct detrimental to the team. He most recently played for the Erie Bayhawks.
Skyler Mays had a good rookie year with the Hawks, playing in 33 regular-season games and six playoff games in his rookie season. He will likely be their starting point guard but Cooper will give him some stiff competition at that position.
Keys to the Game
For both teams, the keys are for players to play hard, learn the systems and plays, and impress their coaches. They also need to avoid injuries, stay loose, have some fun and avoid being nervous.