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What to watch for with the Summer Celtics

Boston’s Summer League roster is light on impact players this time around

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The Boston Celtics tip off 2022 Las Vegas Summer League on Saturday afternoon. The Summer Celtics schedule is:

· vs Heat – Saturday, July 9 – 5:30 PM ET – NBATV

· vs Bucks – Monday, July 11 – 8:00 PM ET – NBATV

· vs Warriors – Tuesday, July 12 – 8:00 PM ET – ESPN2

· TBD – Fourth game opponent/time will be determined following scheduled play

The Summer Celtics roster currently includes only one rostered player: Sam Hauser. Matt Ryan and Brodric Thomas are Boston’s two remaining free agents, as they are both coming off Two-Way contracts.

Recent second-round picks Juhann Begarin and JD Davison will also play. 2020 second rounder Yam Madar was removed from the roster, as he will spend the summer playing with the Israeli National Team.

While the roster is short on players expected to make a real impact, there are still some things to watch for with this group. Here’s what we’ll have our eyes on this summer.

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· Sam Hauser: Can he be more than a standstill shooter? What can Hauser do with his off-the-dribble game? Has he improved his movement shooting coming off screens? How is he holding up defensively?

Hauser is easily the most high-profile player on the Summer Celtics. He’s a knockdown shooter. If he can show a little more, especially on defense, Hauser could earn some rotation minutes for Boston.

· Juhann Begarin: The 2021 second rounder is coming off an awful season for Paris, as the club moved to the highest level in France. Begarin shot terribly at 43% overall and 31% from three. Summer League is about him showing more and showing improvement.

Begarin is a terrific athlete. He’s got both quick burst and good speed. He’s also strong, with good size for a wing. At times Begarin still seems a little lost defensively, but he’s still only 19 years old. That will come. Right now, his jumper and the finishing are the most worrisome. Those have to improve for him to have a real shot at the NBA.

· JD Davison: The Summer Celtics are light on ballhandlers, so Davison will get a ton of reps in Las Vegas. He needs them too. Boston will be looking to see Davison run the offense efficiently without turning the ball over so much. His 27.3% turnover rate at Alabama was absurdly bad.

Beyond the turnovers, we’ll watching Davison’s shot. He finished well, but shot just 30% from three in college. And, finally, does his hyper-active defensive style translate to the NBA? That’s what got him drafted, so hopefully it shows up in Vegas.

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· Matt Ryan: One of the more fun stories from last season was Ryan. From working at a cemetery to making the NBA is quite the trip. To stick in the NBA, even on a Two-Way, Ryan has to do what he’s always done: hit shots. He was lights out in the G League for Maine last year, as he averaged 20.4 points on 52/45 shooting splits.

Like Sam Hauser, Ryan needs to show he can defend at an NBA level if he wants more than a Two-Way or G League spot. If he can do a little bit more off the bounce, that’s even better.

· Brodric Thomas: The Celtics other Two-Way free agent is an NBA-level athlete. This is a known thing. He just has to show a little more consistency on offense. In Maine, Thomas’ shooting slipped. If he can find his shot again, Thomas will be in the mix for a camp invite or Two-Way spot.

With the Summer Celtics light on ballhandlers, look for Thomas to do some of the playmaking. He’s shown a good feel for passing at the G League level, but needs to curb his turnovers.

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· Mfiondu Kabengele: The 6-foot-10 big man washed out of the NBA, but had a bit of a re-birth in the G League last season. Kabengele is more of a 3/4 than a 4/5, but that’s ok. His length allows him to play up a bit against smaller bigs.

In 25 G League games last season, Kabengele averaged 17.5 points on 59/43/81 shooting splits. If that jumper is real at the NBA level, he’ll snag at least a Two-Way spot from someone. As a guy with good professional experience, Kabengele should be ahead of most of the guys he’ll be going against. If he wants an NBA roster spot, he needs to show that in Las Vegas.

· Trevion Williams: How this guy went undrafted is a legitimate question. Williams had a weird college career. He started as a sophomore and junior, but then came off the bench as a senior, due to Purdue’s loaded frontcourt. He was still pretty productive by putting up 11.9 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.0 assists in just 19.9 minutes per game.

Boston likes their bigs to be able to pass, so Williams fits in perfectly there. He’s a tad undersized as a center, but he’s got the body to hold up inside. If Williams can score and pass efficiently this summer, and hang in there on defense, either a camp invite or Two-Way roster spot will be waiting for him on the other end.

· A.J. Reeves: This is the local kid (born in Boston, attended Brimmer & May for high school) everyone will get behind. The challenge? Reeves can’t shoot. He was a four-year starter at Providence, but never topped 9.9 points per game and struggled to crack 40% shooting.

If Reeves shoots it well, he might snag a camp invite. He’s got NBA wing size and he’s a good defender. It all really hinges on the shot for Reeves.

· Jordan Bone: The other pure ballhandler on the Summer Celtics has been on the fringes of the NBA for a few years now. Bone split time between the NBA and the G League in his first two professional seasons, before spending last season in Spain and Turkey.

It’s a broken record at this point, but Bone’s NBA chances depend on him knocking down shots. He struggled to shoot it overseas last season. Bone can run a team and he’s a tough enough defender, but he’ll have to make jumpers to get more of an NBA look beyond the next 10 days.

· Jericole Hellems: A four-year player at NC State, Hellems managed to pop off the screen some on a team loaded with NBA-level talent. At 6-foot-7, Hellems has prototypical wing size for the NBA.

He’s a little up-and-down with his finishing. Hellems improved as a three-point shooter in his final two seasons at NC State. His senior season was a major struggle defensively, as Hellems had a hard time handling players off the dribble, and he tended to foul a lot. He’s basically got the opposite issues of A.J. Reeves as far as his NBA prospects go.

· Bryton Hobbs: At the risk of being snarky and inaccurate, Hobbs is Jayson Tatum’s cousin, and that seems to have gotten him this third ballhandler spot for the Summer Celtics. Hobbs is 30 years old and there’s no record of him playing professionally since 2017-18.

Hobbs did play well in the second division in Lithuania, but that was over four years ago. It’s hard to see there being much of an impact here beyond backing up JD Davison and Jordan Bone.