July 6th, 2015:
The Boston Celtics opened the Utah Summer League action against the hometown Utah Jazz. We have the good, the bad and a few surprises. Here are our takeaways from viewing this game as Boston lost to the Utah Jazz 100-82.
From the opening tip, 2nd-year guard Marcus Smart is picking up where he left off. He is still really, really good defensively. Although I didn't see improvement in his ball-handling, I was impressed in many other parts of his game. He has improved in his overall play making abilities. While playing the point, he made some tough passes look easy while in transition, with the pick & roll and in the normal flow of the offense. What really stood out was his ability to finish at the rim. He was aggressive as he started the opening quarter with 11 points and not only looking for his shot but setting up his teammates as well. He looked like he wanted to be the "man" which is great to see for Celtics fans and as I always say, that's something you can't teach. My suggestion is sitting Marcus for the rest of summer league action after the Utah stint to allow other guys to showcase their talent. Smart finished with 26 points and 8 assists but only shot 6-20 from the field.
Grade: B+ (has to improve his shot selection and FG percentage)
While Marcus looked really good, fellow 2nd-year player and 1st-round pick James Young didn't. Young showed an ability last year to shoot from the arc with his 44% clip during his stints with Boston and their D-League affiliate Maine. Throughout last night's contest, Young was basically stuck on the 3-point line. He just didn't seem to want "it" as I expected he would coming into his second season. I saw opportunities for him to use the pump fake and drive or cut to the rim but instead he chose to shoot or just linger. He really needs to improve his ball handling and start making the leap to creating his own shots. Confidence is the key. He needs to just let his natural athleticism take over. Young finished with 12 points, mostly garbage time.
Grade: D (I have high expectations for James so he is being graded on a curve)
This year's 16th pick, guard Terry Rozier, looked decent in action. Everything seemed kind of easy for Rozier. From his dribbling skills, to his driving ability, he just seemed comfortable and it showed. His quickness just flowed throughout the game. It will be interesting to see what he can do once he is the primary ball handler during summer league play. He reminds me of Dwayne Wade for his smoothness. Boy what that would be for Boston. Only time will tell.
Grade: C+ (I think he has a very high ceiling)
Here is a quick highlight!
Fellow 1st-rounder R.J Hunter didn't do much in limited action.
Grade: Incomplete (not enough minutes)
2nd-round pick Jordan Mickey was very impressive in his debut. He played well in the pick and roll and finished at the rim better than expected. He showed poise in the post and made a few good moves. An athletic big, something Celtic fans have been wanting for a while now. He even showed a mid-range jumper a la Brandon Bass. He finished with a solid 16 points but only 4 rebounds.
Grade: A (We didn't expect much and he definitely exceeded the low expectation)
Honorable mention - Undrafted free agent C.J. Fair played well for the Celtics. His best trait was his ability to finish, whether it was off the dribble or off the catch. A good finisher is always useful.
Notes: 2nd year guard Dante Exum of the Utah Jazz had a good game after a slow start. He left the game in the 4th with what appeared to be an ankle injury. He looked a bit overweight and fatigued and his body type reminds me of Evan Turner, not in a good way. He played well for Utah after being dominated in the 1st quarter by Marcus Smart. He finished with 20 points and Utah rookie Rodney Hood was impressive in his debut with 23 points and 10 rebounds.