Boston rolled out a starting lineup of Payton Pritchard, Dalano Banton, Sam Hauser, Oshae Brissett, and Luke Kornet, with seven more guys earning playing time off the bench, Svi Mykhailiuk among them.
The Ukranian wing joined the Celtics this summer on a non-guaranteed contract and is slated to fight for rotational minutes with Brissett, Banton, Hauser, and others heading into the season.
“Everybody’s a different player,” Mykhailiuk said after Monday’s loss. “Dalano is more of a point guard, Oshae is more of a defensive type of player, but he’s really aggressive on the offensive end, getting rebounds and playing aggressive. [He] can make open threes. So, I feel like everybody has their own skillset, which is very valuable for a team.”
Mykhailiuk poured in 15 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field and 3-of-7 shooting from deep while adding three rebounds and one assist to his totals.
As he heads into his sixth NBA season, Mykhailiuk has developed a reputation as an elite marksman from deep. In his 19-game stretch with the Charlotte Hornets to end last season, he shot 40.4% from deep on 4.7 attempts per game.
“I feel like for everybody, if it’s an open shot, everybody’s got to take it no matter what,” Mykhailiuk said of playing in Mazzulla’s offensive system. “So, I feel like that’s a good thing, and everybody’s just got to look for it.”
And while he managed to sink three triples against the Knicks, Mykhailiuk shined brighter in unexpected areas, sparking hope that he could become a dynamic player in Boston’s bench rotation.
Mykhailiuk was very comfortable with the ball in his hands against New York, attacking closeouts and setting up his teammates for shots. His ability to handle the ball could give him an edge up on guys like Brissett and Hauser, while his shooting slots ahead of Banton and Jordan Walsh.
There were some issues on the defensive end for Mykhailiuk against New York, though. Most notably, he was too eager on closeouts, allowing Knicks players to blow past him with a simple pump fake.
But Mykhailiuk’s athleticism was what stole the spotlight more than anything else. The 26-year-old slammed home a couple of impressive dunks, including an incredible alley-oop courtesy of JD Davison and a monster two-hand putback jam.
Having that bounce allows Mykhailiuk a bit more freedom to work on the offensive end and could give Boston more options with him on the court. That said, the offense isn’t about him, and he knows it.
“Just [learning] how everybody plays and just playing off them,” Mykhailiuk said of adapting to Boston. “The main guys, you just got to learn how they play and build your game based on what they do.”
With all the moves the Celtics made this summer, depth was sacrificed in the name of stars, but that sacrifice opened a door for guys like Mykhailiuk. And with his skillset and mentality, he has a real shot at finding his way into the rotation.