For today’s Topic Tuesday, I thought we’d talk about the end of the roster. These topics are always amusing to me because they are very hotly debated among fans, yet they typically have little to no bearing on the upcoming season.
Keith Smith already laid the foundation with his roster reset article, which sums up the situation thusly:
Boston currently has two open standard spots on the regular season roster. Teams have to carry 14 players on standard contracts, aside from two-week window increments. That means that it’s very likely one of these five players will make the regular season roster.
Carrying a 15th player on the regular season roster is very much in question. The expectation was that Boston would let that spot sit open and not add to their tax bill. However, with Danilo Gallinari, Luke Kornet and Robert Williams all sidelined (Gallinari and Williams long-term), the Celtics may bring a 15th player into the regular season.
Here are the 5 players mentioned (note that the 2-way players aren’t listed because they are almost certain to still be on those 2-way deals at the start of the season. I’m including short blurbs and links from prior CelticsBlog articles on each player.
· Justin Jackson (link)
Jackson spent four years in the NBA across four different teams after being drafted 15th overall by the Sacramento Kings in 2017. In 248 career games, he averaged 6.6 points and 2.5 rebounds while shooting 42.7 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from deep. Jackson last played for the Oklahoma City Thunder (33 games) and Milwaukee Bucks (1 game) last season.
· Jake Layman (link)
After looking back through all of the Norwood native’s possessions from last season, it’s clear he’s a capable rotation player who can slot right into what Boston likes to run on both ends of the floor. By all accounts, the Celtics are confident that both Sam Hauser and Luke Kornet will be able to make up for the loss of Danilo Gallinari and that Layman, along with players like Denzel Valentine, Noah Vonleh, and Bruno Caboclo, are battling for back up back up minutes. However, it’s fair to say that the competition for a rotation place has intensified, as Layman will come into training camp as one of the more experienced and complete players that are vying for a contract with a contender.
· Luka Samanic (link)
The Spurs drafted Šamanić No. 19 overall in 2019 from Olimpija Ljubljana after a season with FC Barcelona’s reserve team. He spent most of his rookie season with G-League Austin and averaged 15.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 3.1 turnovers per game while shooting 43.1% from the field. San Antonio played him 33 times with the NBA team in his second season, where he mostly struggled before not making it past roster cuts before 2021-22.
· Brodric Thomas (link)
In 14 games (13 starts) in the G League bubble, Thomas averaged 18.5 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks. He played for both the Rio Grande Valley Vipers and the Canton Charge in the bubble. Thomas made it to the NBA after a standout career at Division II Truman State. The 6-foot-5 guard was a three-year starter. As a senior, Thomas averaged 21.5 points on 50/42/81 shooting splits. He also grabbed 7.2 rebounds and dished out 3.3 assists per game.
· Noah Vonleh (link)
Vonleh, if he’s able to play anywhere close to the way he did in New York just a few years ago, could be the best of those options. He finishes in traffic, runs the floor relatively well, is an above-average defender, can step out and shoot 3’s, hustles, rebounds at a high level, and doesn’t make many mistakes. Vonleh has a chance to thrive in the pick-and-roll with Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White and provide another lob threat along with Robert Williams.
Which player do you think most deserves a spot on the Celtics?
This poll is closed
Jeff’s take: At the moment I think I like the idea of Noah Vonleh the best. He at least fits the mold of a guy we could use for depth and occasional spot minutes. He has length, can hit 3’s, can grab some rebounds. And perhaps most of all, he’s at least shown some ability to succeed at this level in the past. So he seems like the safest bet to me.
Now it is your turn. Vote and discuss your answers in the comments below!