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CelticsBlog roundtable: ranking the Celtics non-guaranteed guys

Which players are trending towards making the regular season roster for the Boston Celtics?

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

We’re three games into the preseason and we’ve had some time to see a lot of the guys who are auditioning to make the regular season roster. So, I posed the question to our staff: What are your Power Rankings for the guys on non-guaranteed or two-way contracts? (In terms of making the team and having some kind of impact) Here’s what we came up with.

For reference here are the guys that don’t have fully guaranteed contracts (in alphabetical order by category):

Non-guaranteed players:

  • Dalano Banton
  • Oshae Brissett (note: Brissett is fully guaranteed, this was my (Jeff) error)
  • Luke Kornet
  • Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk

Training Camp/Exhibit 9:

  • Wenyen Gabriel
  • Lamar Stevens

Two Ways:

  • J.D. Davison
  • Neemias Queta
  • Jay Scrubb (poor Jay)
Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Adam Taylor

Stevens - Defensive wrecking ball. Positionally versatile, has legitimate NBA experience, and has done well in his limited playing time. Heart and hustle. Offense will be situational, though.

Svi - He’s been a great addition to the Celtics offensive rotation. Great movement shooting, good physicality, and that putback slam was fun. Defense is a slight issue, but he’s a single-skill specialist, you know what you’re signing up for.

Banton - Really like his court navigation and pick-and-roll ability. Great size and length with good defensive potential. Still super raw, and has a really questionable shot, but his uniqueness makes him a good end of bench flyer imo.

Queta - What’s not to love? Dude is pure energy. Needs to stop fouling so much.

Kornet - Hasn’t looked great so far, but deserves the benefit of the doubt. Has shown enough during his time in Boston to be a trusted bench guy.

Brissett - I’m lower than most on Brissett. However, I can admit his defense has been good and he’s got great size and length. Lots of crossover with Stevens, though. At which point, I give Stevens the edge.

J.D. Davison - Needs another year in Maine.

Wenyen Gabriel - We haven’t seen enough of him to give a fair assessment.

Jay Scrubb - Sucks he got injured

Boston Celtics v New York Knicks Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images

Sam LaFrance

Category 1: Eyeball emoji

Oshae Brissett - Probably going to wind up with some sort of rotational minutes. Personally like his effort and defense, just need the shots to fall.

Svi Mykhailiuk - Does this guy miss????

Neemias Queta - Recency bias, but he absolutely rules. With the backup center spot looking uncertain, it feels like there’s a ton of opportunity for him to earn time.

Lamar Stevens - Love the effort and hustle. It looks like Joe trusts him to play and defend multiple positions. Shot needs to drop, though.

Category 2: Shrug Emoji

Dalano Banton - Intriguing because of his ability to run the pick-and-roll as a ball handler, but he’s never going to get the opportunity when everyone is actually in the lineup. We haven’t seen him thrive in an off-ball role just yet.

Luke Kornet - Personally, think the criticism he’s gotten so far has been a bit unnecessary, but he hasn’t done anything wildly impressive and I’d prefer Queta at this point.

Category 3: Yikes emoji

Wenyen Gabriel - He’s barely been able to earn playing time in preseason, it’s tough to imagine that he’ll get a real role once the season starts. Plus, he’s looked a bit out of control when he’s actually played.

J.D. Davison - The development just hasn’t been there. Would rather just see Banton take on any extra guard minutes.

Category 4: Hosptial emoji

Jay Srubb - Unfortunate.

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at New York Knicks Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Noa Dalzell

Svi Mykhailiuk - Svi is ready for rotation minutes. I personally hadn’t seen a ton of him prior to this preseason and some highlight clips, but he’s clearly a sharpshooter and has also just been actively engaged across the board, crashing the glass and moving well without the ball. He’s averaged 15 ppg in the last two games on 67% shooting.

Neemias Queta - I’m sorry I’m on the Queta bandwagon. It feels so good to have an athletic defensive presence and I hope he’ll spend the year in Boston, not Maine. I’ve heard he fares less well against real NBA bigs, so time will tell, but so far, we’ve seen flashes of brilliance from the Portuguese big man.

Lamar Stevens - Another rotation-ready guy who brings grit and hustle, Stevens hasn’t been efficient offensively but has the potential to be a very solid role player who does the little things.

Oshae Brissett - Similar to Stevens, Brissett is another energy guy who’s outside shot hasn’t been consistent. I’ve yet to see either Stevens or Brissett separate from the other

Dalano Banton - He’s had some impressive performances so far, but is pretty ball-dominant and has yet to show signs of being an adaptable role player. I don’t foresee him getting a ton of run unless the Cs face substantial backcourt injuries.

Luke Kornet - While he earned a spot in the rotation last season, Quetta has looked better in limited minutes so far. Kornet has grabbed just six boards in 46 minutes of action so far this preseason.

Wenyen Gabriel - I liked watching him play for South Sudan this summer, but he just hasn’t yet looked comfortable out there. I have him at the end of the center depth chart.

J.D Davison - I so want to see this guy succeed, but he looked pretty rough in summer league and has continued to struggle in preseason action, albeit in limited minutes. He still seems years away from being able to run point at an NBA-level.

N/A Jay Scrubb - he balled out in summer league but given the fact he has a torn ACL, it’s unlikely the Celtics will keep him (which sucks, but he showed flashes of really high-level scoring)

Michael Spooner

Svi - dude knows how to play offense. Active off ball, quick decisions, and the shot is falling. I’m very worried about his defense and how real the shooting is, but he’s played just about as well as you could hope. It’s very difficult for me to give a Jayhawk props, but he’s earned it.

Oshae Brissett - Hasn’t blown me away, but is as advertised. Playing extremely hard, can drive a close out, and seems a step ahead everyone on understanding the defensive scheme (to the point he was directing Pritchard where to go at times last night). Lower ceiling than some of the others, but solid floor.

Lamar Stevens - Has a more well rounded game than I was anticipating, but prone to lapses defensively and the ball gets a little sticky in his hands. Has flashed some interesting self-creation when he’s on-ball, but the excitement instantly crashes back to earth everytime he attempts a jumper. Still, lots to like from Stevens and like Brissett, you know he will play hard at all times.

Delano Banton - Riding the high of one great game, but has been fine in all his minutes. Has more pop off the dribble than expected in the half-court, and is difficult to stop in transition. Being 6’7” is a massive benefit defensively for a player of his archetype (essentially a point guard), but he’s not wowed me on that end. Overall, much better showing than summer league and I considered him over Stevens and Brissett.

Neemias Queta - I will openly admit I’m not a believer. Did a decent amount of research on him last year and during the draft and his defense terrifies me. The fact he’s this high despite my biases is a testament to how well he has played. Sometimes guys figure it out, and hopefully this is one of those times. He can defensive rebound and roll to the rim, those are skills that can keep you in the NBA for a while.

Luke Kornet - Not been a great preseason for Luke, but he feels nailed on as the 3rd big. He had a large sample size of ok basketball last season, which makes 3 preseason games essentially meaningless in evaluating him. That said, he is bad on the defensive glass, which is a weakness of the team in general. You’d hope the backup center could be relied on to rebound, but I don’t totally trust Luke there.

JD Davison - Flashed some nifty passing and is fun in transition. That’s about the end of the positives unfortunately. He was the 53rd pick, so the fact he’s flashing any semblance of an NBA skill is a good thing and makes him worth hanging on to, but he needs more time to develop. The tools are there, it’s just about finding the right ones for the job.

Wenyen Gabriel - I think he’s better than he’s showed, but it’s been a nightmare preseason for Gabriel. He will probably stick around the NBA because he has a desirable combination of trying hard and being long, but probably the first cut among this group.

Mark Aboyoun

Svi - I knew he could shoot, but he’s been on another level in preseason. Granted it’s preseason, but he’s making a strong case for him to make the team and get rotation minutes.

Neemias Queta - Mr. Impact. As soon as he gets on the floor he makes his presence felt. There was a reason why Lakers fans were calling for him to get minutes last year, and so far I can see why. He’ll need to limit the fouls, but hopefully he’ll work on that in Maine and help in the frontcourt later in the season if/when we encounter injuries.

Oshae Brissett - I love his effort. He’s giving it all on defense and making some good reads on offense. I think Joe likes what he brings to the team and wouldn’t be surprised if he started the season getting a good amount of minutes. However, he’ll need to start making his shots if he wants to really cement his place in the rotation.

Lamar Stevens - Stevens has been playing in multiple positions and even spent some time playing center. If we need to go small, it wouldn’t surprise me if Joe had Stevens in the lineup during stretches of games. Similar to Brissett, he needs to start making his shots.

Luke Kornet - Kornet is going to play a big role for us this season, especially with Rob now in Portland. Luke hasn’t had the best preseason, however, people may be looking too far into his stints on the court. He proved himself last year as being a capable big coming off the bench. I think Joe trusts him and knows what he gets from Luke.

Dalano Banton - I’ve been impressed with his ability to get past his man off the dribble. His finishing around the rim will need to improve, but he’s at best the fourth point guard on the team, so he won’t be see the floor often. He’s a solid enough player to make the team.

JD Davison - He’ll definitely benefit from another year in Maine. The one criticism I have of Davison is he’s at times out of control (which is kind of expected for a 21 year old second rounder). He’s used to using his speed and athleticism to get by people but when his defenders are just as fast/athletic he struggles. JD has been in control so far this preseason, but hasn’t improved enough to see Joe using him in the regular season.

Wenyen Gabriel - Gabriel is an interesting prospect. He hasn’t seen the floor often enough to really judge, but based off of minutes it’s hard to think he’ll be on the roster when training camp starts.

Jay Scrubb - I personally was most excited to see how his summer league performances translated to the preseason. It’s unfortunate that he tore his ACL which means he’ll most likely get waived. Hope he has a speedy recovery and maybe get another crack at it next season.

Harris Rubenstein

Brissett - love his length and defensive tenacity, he’s going to be huge for this team who is desperate for his skillset off the bench.

Kornet - I think he’s a serviceable 4th big who can play fine with Tatum on the floor. Can play some defense/offense whenever needed

Svi - Love the shooting he’s bringing, but worried it’s a preseason thing. His defense has been just okay.

Stevens - He’s Svi but flipped. Loving his defense and energy so far, but his offensive game still leaves a lot to be desired. He’s a fine 9-10th man

Queta - Not as convinced as everyone else. Looks like a g-league big to me with some long-term potential. If the Celtics have to rely on him for big minutes, something has probably gone wrong.

Banton - Looks like he’s still figuring out a new team and a new set of expectations. I like his potential as a ball-handler, but I don’t think he’s a true NBA-caliber guard yet. At least, not for a title contender.

J.D. Davison - needs longer to cook. Has decent IQ and is a good defender, but he’s not quite at an NBA level yet

Wenyen Gabriel - Been pretty disappointed wso far, thought he would bring more to the table after a decent year in LA. Not out of it yet, but seems behind the 8-ball.

Jay Scrubb- Sad to go down with an injury, maybe we get a real look next year

Jack Simone

Svi Mykhailiuk - His blend of three-point shooting, ball-handling, and sneaky athleticism has sparked a serious conversation about whether or not he should get rotation minutes. And it’s a fair conversation to have.

Lamar Stevens - The shot hasn’t been there, but everything else has. His hustle defense and nose for rebounds are exactly what Boston should want on the roster.

Neemias Queta - Not only has Queta been a great pick-n-roll player, but his passing abilities shined against the 76ers. He should be on a standard contract by the start of next season, if not by the end of this one.

Oshae Brissett - Similar to Stevens, Brissett has been able to use his athleticism to make an impact despite his lack of a consistent jumper. His defense and rebounding are just as useful.

Luke Kornet - This is probably a bit too low for Kornet, as he’s going to be the clear-cut choice to earn backup big minutes to begin the year, but he’s been relatively underwhelming in the preseason. That said, he’s not going to be asked to do anything that jumps off the page once the regular season begins.

Dalano Banton - Banton’s ball-handling and ability to run the pick-n-roll has been intriguing, but it’s been offset by some sloppy play at times. That said, his defensive potential is certainly there, as his length has made life hard for opponents. Consistency has been the issue.

Wenyen Gabriel - A hustle guy through and through, Gabriel has suffered from Aaron Nesmith syndrome at times, going a bit too fast for his own good. He needs to rein things in a bit.

JD Davison - The young point guard just isn’t ready to play at the NBA level. Without any elite skills at his height, a consistent jump shot would be necessary to earn any sort of minutes. He needs more time in Maine.

N/A Jay Scrubb - Get well soon. For what it’s worth, he would probably be fourth on this list if healthy, especially if he was playing at the same level he was during Summer League.

Daniel Poarch

1: Svi Myhailiuk – He’s the most proven player at the NBA level on this list (such as it is), and he can really shoot. Sign me up.

T2: Oshae Brissett/Lamar Stevens – You can never really have too many defense-and-effort type wings. Either one probably fits in a lot of lineups.

3: Luke Kornet – Probably the okay-est big man imaginable, but he’s been around the block and knows what’s expected of him. It’s not exciting, but he’s probably going to be the third center on this roster for the time being.

4: Dalano Banton – There might not be enough touches for him and I don’t know what he does off the ball, but it’s hard to see a ball-handler with this kind of size and not be intrigued.

5: Neemias Queta – He’s had a nice preseason, but it feels like there’s a lot of G-League seasoning in his future. There’s room for him, though, if he ends up ahead of schedule.

6: Wenyen Gabriel – He’s still acclimating, and wasn’t completely terrible for the Lakers last year. At 26 years old, though, I probably lean towards Queta’s upside.

7: JD Davison – I think I’m just not a believer, unfortunately. He just hasn’t looked good in Summer League or preseason. Even as athletic as Davison is, it’s hard to be both small and a non-shooter and really contribute to winning basketball.

8: Jay Scrubb – A bummer, and not his fault. Get well soon.

Trevor Hass

1. Lamar Stevens – For most guys on this list, I feel like they can help if X, Y and Z happens. For Stevens, I feel like he will help because of his intelligence and activity on defense. If he makes shots, that’s a plus, but his energy and acumen on the other end should earn him minutes.

2. Svi Mykhailiuk – Mykhailiuk is a sniper. I’ve always loved Sam Hauser’s game, but I’m not entirely convinced Hauser’s markedly better than Mykhailiuk. It will be an interesting battle to monitor. Mykhailuk doesn’t need to be a lockdown defender, but he does need to prove he can hold his own on that end. Of course, playing alongside Jrue Holiday and other elite defenders will help.

3. Luke Kornet – I always seem to use the word serviceable when I write about Kornet, but it really is the word that comes to mind every time. Yes, I’m still concerned about his defense and rebounding, but offensively, he has a reliable skill set and plays his role well. He should earn minutes in the regular season, but I’m unsure about the playoffs. He has to prove it.

4. Oshae Brissett – I’m a big believer that rotational guys in the NBA need to have one specific skill where they truly excel. I’m still looking for that skill from Brissett. He’s obviously long and athletic, so if he can use his physical gifts to his advantage, that might work. But I’m not sure he’s reliable enough from 3-point range to really help a whole lot offensively.

5. Wenyen Gabriel – Gabriel brings instant energy and can change the complexion of a game with his hustle plays and defense. He flies around the court, and you feel his intensity when he’s out there. If the Celtics want offense, Kornet’s their guy. If they want defense, I personally would go with Gabriel.

6. Dalano Banton – Banton probably has the most upside of anyone on this list. He’s super shifty and can get downhill much better than I realized. His shot is obviously a work in progress, but he has a chance to be special long term. He certainly deserves a chance to prove himself.

7. Neemias Queta – Queta is an elite rim protector and has the ability to finish inside. He needs to improve his touch and his decision-making, but he’s relatively mobile for his size and has a unique motor. There’s no reason he can’t log some backup big minutes as needed, but I personally would give Gabriel the slight edge when it comes to consistency.

8. J.D. Davison – I see why the Celtics drafted Davison, and he shows it in flashes, but his lack of consistency is very confusing. He feels like an unfinished puzzle to me, where the pieces are all sitting on the table and putting them together is proving to be more difficult than expected. He may turn into something long term, but right now, he’s like the block of cheese in the Cheez-It commercial: not ready.

9. Jay Scrubb – I was looking forward to watching Scrubb. Missing the year is brutal, but it’s especially brutal when you finally feel like you’re getting your break. Scrubb will be back. He can create his own shot and has a silky stroke. I like what I’ve seen from him.

NBA: Preseason-Boston Celtics at New York Knicks Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

Bobby Manning

  1. Dalano Banton - Between his knowledge of the system, ability to play guard and forward, and Joe Mazzulla’s glowing assessments of him so far, I’m becoming more convinced he could separate himself from this group. He’s shooting confidently, too, if not well. My guess remains you need to shoot to play here, so that’ll remain the greatest hindrance.

2. Svi Mykhailiuk - Hard to ignore the shooting, and his playmaking puts legitimate pressure on Sam Hauser. If Hauser slumps for as long as he did one year ago, it’s easy to imagine Mykhailiuk stepping into that role. The defense will be a problem, but I wonder if Boston’s ability to play more flexibly on defense will allow for a weak link.

3. Luke Kornet - He’s struggled through three games, but remains trusted and loved by the staff and front office. He hasn’t faced much competition yet. If a true need for significant center minutes off the bench behind Porzingis and Horford emerges, though, his role could come into question.

4. Lamar Stevens - Not many flashes in preseason, but I get the sense he’d look better playing next to the regular contributors on the team. I’d expect him to make the final roster.

5. Oshae Brissett - He’s struggled to make shots inside and out, and his narrow defensive skill set at the four limits how and when the team can use him. He’ll make the roster, but his path to minutes doesn’t look straight right now.

6. Neemias Queta - Keeping my eye on him, because he’s looked good through three games. He moves better than I expected and he brings legitimate size, activity and shot-blocking to the center spot. I won’t rule out him breaking through, but his relative lack of NBA experience probably points toward him at least beginning the season with Maine unless he breaks through during the early portion of the schedule.

7. Wenyen Gabriel - Not super convinced he’ll break through, but some positional versatility, experience and a need at the center spot work in his favor. He’s taller than he seemed from afar and he plays hard.

8. JD Davison - Not in the mix still, with too many guards in front of him. He looks slightly improved through his preseason minutes so far though.

9. Jay Scrubb - Would imagine this spot goes to D.J. Steward unless someone else becomes available and willing to take this two-way spot.

Jeff’s Take

I’m going to be a little boring and make the point that this team has a right-now window to compete for a title. So to me it boils down to who do you trust? There’s just not a lot of room for development and projects.

For that reason I lean towards quasi-veterans like Brissett, Mykhailiuk, and Kornet. Of the rest of the options Banton seems to have the highest upside, but I don’t know that I trust him enough (in particular his shooting).

I like Queta’s size and potential, but having him on a two-way seems like a good balance so he can be called up if there’s a need for short term big man depth. If Brad Stevens decides to add more depth later in the season, he could look to fill that via trade.

Your Turn

How would you rank them?

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