After the final horn sounded on Saturday, Boston’s Summer League season came to a close in a 102-95 loss on their way to a 3-2 record. While racking up wins is always the goal, Summer League serves as a time for teams to get a better look at their draft prospects as well as unsigned players trying to find their home in the NBA. For a team like Boston, it’s an opportunity to look at filling out the tail end of their roster and their two-way spots.
Rookie guard JD Davison has shown some promise, and the team was quick to ink him to a two-way contract; he’s far more likely to get steady minutes in Maine, with the Celtics top three guards in Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Derrick White taking a lion’s share of the workload. And late on Saturday night, the Celtics announced they had signed big man Mfiondu Kabengele to their other two-way contract. The 24-year-old center was drafted 27th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft, and showed some promise in his minutes during this Summer League.
Where does this leave Juhann Begarin? Part of the reason why the Boston Celtics had drafted Begarin 45th overall in the 2021 draft was due to his willingness to play overseas, and with a full roster in Boston, he was stashed with Paris Basketball. Fast forward to now, and Celtics fans got to see the work that Begarin has put into his game after another year of pro European basketball.
The Frenchman shot 46.3% from the field and 42.9% from deep over the last three games, and in his final game, he dropped 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting (3-of-6 from deep), 7 rebounds, and three assists as well as three steals. Begarin has shown his athleticism and promise, and while he’s still a raw talent, there’s a good amount of potential. With Boston still with a few roster spots to fill, can he figure into Boston’s roster plans? Even before Boston signed Kabengele to their remaining two-way spot, the situation for Begarin is tricky.
For starters, Boston’s top end of the rotation is 10 players deep, with the additions of Brogdon and Gallinari into the fold. Anyone else that may be added with Boston’s remaining three roster spots will most likely be getting limited minutes unless they fill a specific need in Boston’s rotation. You have to factor in age and experience for any player you’re adding, and that applies to guys like Begarin and Davison.
Celtics fans have heard this one before: he’s only 19! Both Begarin and Davison are still in their teens, with Begarin turning 20 in August. Both prospects are so young and as they continue to fill out, they’ll need as many minutes as possible to reach their potential. That kind of opportunity won’t be consistent with the Celtics as they try to reach the Finals again this season, and the team can’t afford to have players who aren’t NBA ready. Summer League is one thing, and playing against established NBA talent is a whole other challenge in itself.
After rocky tenures of players like Romeo Langford and Aaron Nesmith in Boston, fans are well aware how important playing time is as it relates to player development. It’s detrimental and a disservice to the young guys to have to sit on the bench and occasionally get thrown into minutes to either sink or swim. In a role like that in Boston, nobody wins, and it can derail a young player’s confidence.
While it would be great to see Begarin in Boston, it would be best for both parties for him to return to Paris Basketball for at least one more year. He showed some serious promise and his shot began to fall as he grew more comfortable, but he needs more consistency to his play and the Celtics just don’t have the luxury of taking that risk. Now, with no more two-way contracts to use on any of the remaining Summer League standouts, would it make a lot of sense for either side for Begarin to join the Celtics this season?
He wouldn’t be able to join the Maine Celtics to get some minutes unless he signed with the G-League, and if that’s all it would be, Begarin would be much better off playing overseas in France for another season. He’d be leaving a good amount of money on the table to play in the States this season, and the young wing wouldn’t be getting the minutes needed to properly develop his game. Meanwhile, Boston could find a player with the veteran minimum that would have no issue with a smaller role and still produce in limited minutes.
Ultimately, we’ll have to see how the Celtics roster situation unfolds, but for Juhann Begarin, playing overseas for another year could be the best outcome for his career and his future in the NBA.