After a successful first round of summer league basketball, the Boston Celtics will now be traveling to Las Vegas. But before we look ahead, lets look back at some of the standouts and also see how their new rookies did in their first NBA action.
The Celtics went 4-1 this week down in Orlando, and a large part of that was from the contributions of Dionte Christmas, E'Twaun Moore, Jared Sullinger, and Kris Joseph.
To start out, Dionte Christmas was the biggest surprise. I didn't know who he was before the summer league began, but he really impressed me with what he can do.
Yesterday alone, Christmas had 21 points, 19 of them came in the first half. Throughout the whole week he had been consistent scoring 10 points four out of five games. He not only can score, but he can rebound and do all the intangibles. In his first game Christmas grabbed 10 rebounds, all of them were defensive. He plays great defense, brings a lot of energy, and he doesn't play out of control.
If the Celtics can't find space on the roster for him, there is no way another team won't pick him up. Originally, Christmas was only supposed to play for Boston in Orlando, but it seems like they invited him to Las Vegas. This guy definitely has talent, and I won't be surprised to see the Celtics reach out and invite him to training camp.
E'Twaun Moore was a pleasant surprise this week. I knew that he had the skills and tools to score in this league, but I didn't expect him to light up the summer league.
The Celtics played him at point guard, and he did a superb job at that position. Personally, I would have liked to see him play at shooting guard, but the change in position didn't alter his game in any way.
One thing that wasn't well known about Moore was his defense. He played exceptionally well against Brandon Knight and it was almost becoming personal as both players seemed to play really tight against each other. This might be the year Moore breaks out. If he gains the trust of Doc Rivers, then we will be seeing him in games this season.
Jared Sullinger brought a lot more to Orlando than expected. Leading up to the draft, the only talk going around was about his back issues and how that could hinder him, but in the summer league at least, his back was no problem at all.
Sullinger scored 20 points in his first game, and most of his production came from within 10 feet of the basket. He backed down his man in the paint, and never got out muscled on either side of court.
What really stood out to me was his rebounding. In 4 games, Sullinger grabbed 33 rebounds, and these games only had 10-minute quarters. That was the most impressive stat line coming from him. His scoring isn't a huge priority for the Celtics, as long as he rebounds.
The Celtics have been out rebounded game after game and year after year. If Sullinger can just do small things like grabbing boards especially on the offensive glass, he'll be an extremely valuable player even if he doesn't score 10-15 points a night.
Lastly, Kris Joseph proved that he should have been drafted much higher. Joseph played like a veteran, with some polished moves when heading to the basket. He also knocked down outside shots, and when he got to the rim, he took it in strong.
Defensively, he was always active. When he wasn't getting steals or deflections, he just played great defense that made his man take highly contested shots. He proved his worth this week, and I'm looking forward to seeing how he does in Las Vegas.
At first I thought Joseph might have to spend a year or two in the D-League, but after this week, I think he could be ready to play in NBA games.
The Celtics play their first game in Las Vegas on Monday versus the Atlanta Hawks at 4pm on NBATV.
Tuesday versus Chicago @ 10pm
Thursday versus Sacramento @ 6:30pm
Saturday versus Milwaukee @ 10:30pm
Sunday versus LA Clippers @ 6pm