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Flashes of brilliance: Takeaways from Summer Celtics starting off with a win

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Yam Madar and Juhann Begarin showed well in their first NBA experience

2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Boston Celtics v Atlanta Hawks Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

1. We’re going to start with the new guys, because they showed up and did some fun stuff. And we’ll kick it off with everyone’s new favorite: Yam Madar!

Madar played 16:47 and flashed some of the skill that has everyone so excited. This slick pocket pass would likely have been finished for a layup by an NBA-caliber big man:

The Israeli lead guard looked confident with the ball and played with swagger during his time on the floor too. This is a contested shot, but it’s a good one for a smaller guard to have in his bag. Note: Madar made this over Hawks Two-Way player Skylar Mays. So, that’s an NBA-level contest:

Madar also made a nice baseline pullup in the first half. In the second half, he showed off his baseline floater:

Overall, it was a good first run for the 20-year-old from Israel. The rest of the week, it would be nice to see him show some more playmaking skills. Temper your expectations there though, because the Summer Celtics bigs were pretty rough.

2. Juhann Begarin asked for a chance to play Summer League to “show what I can do” and he got it. He also said “I like to defense…I like to steal the ball” and he clinched Boston’s win with this rip:

The biggest question about Begarin was whether he would shoot it well enough to play in the NBA. He knocked down a couple of three-pointers and looked to have a smooth stroke. Surprisingly, his athleticism (which was his calling card) didn’t show up as much. But we’ll cut him a break after joining the Summer Celtics late. Excited to see what the rest of the week brings for the 19-year-old 2021 draftee.

3. Sam Hauser only got his jumper to fall a couple of times, but you can see he’ll be able to get it off against NBA athletes. The challenge for Hauser is going to be competing defensively. He looks a bit slow of foot to guard quicker players and he’s not big or strong enough to guard bigger players. He was particularly overmatched by Hawks first-round pick Jalen Johnson.

Hauser also needs to show some level of off-the-dribble scoring or playmaking. If he develops as a shooter, teams will close to him hard. He has to be able to attack those closeouts and make a play.

4. Payton Pritchard got his shots up. The second-year point guard launched 15 three-point attempts, making seven of them. A couple were from deep, like this one:

Pritchard also flashed some solid playmaking skills. Like Madar, he was hurt by the Summer Celtics big men not being able to catch and finish very well. It’s probably going to be a cameo appearance for Pritchard at Summer League. He’s clearly ahead of most of the other guys in Las Vegas. No reason to risk injury for a clear rotation player.

5. Romeo Langford was up-and-down. As expected, he had the ball a lot. Boston is clearly trying to develop his on-ball creator skills. It was a little messy at times, but Langford made a few nice reads. Again, and you might be sensing a theme here, he’d be helped by better bigs to finish off his passes.

As a scorer, Langford would have done well to get to the basket a bit more. Like everyone on the Summer Celtics, he was content to bomb away. But for Langford, it came with this game-winner:

6. Aaron Nesmith had the roughest game of the returning players. Like Langford, but to a slightly lesser extent, Boston is asking him to do more off the bounce. Also, like Langford, it was a mixed bag. Nesmith ran into a couple of charges and turned it over one other time. But he did have a few nice passes, including a pretty drive and kick to Begarin for a three-pointer.

As a scorer, Nesmith’s jumper was off, but his finishing inside was fairly solid. We shouldn’t be worried about the former, as he’s shown he can hit shots. Being enthused and intrigued by the latter is perfectly ok.

7. Summer League is the perfect environment for Carsen Edwards to shine. His lack of size doesn’t work against him there the way it does in the NBA. He’s just enough quicker than non-NBA players that he can score off the dribble. And the up-and-down nature of the games works for him to get in the flow as a shooter/scorer.

On the plus side, Edwards looked better as a passer than he has for most of his career. This was a good find to Langford on the fastbreak:

This was a nice kick-out pass to Nesmith from a difficult spot:

And he still has the deep range he flashed at Purdue and in the G-League:

Overall, less scoring an more playmaking would be nice to see from Edwards. We know he can score in Las Vegas and Maine. That hasn’t translated to Boston. If he can show some signs of progress as a playmaker for others, that would be a boon to him making the Celtics 2021-22 roster.