Talented Celtics Summer League players determined to embrace their roles

Talented Celtics Summer League players determined to embrace their roles

SALT LAKE CITY – As you look at the Summer League roster of the Boston Celtics or any other Summer League squad for that matter, you’ll find a collection of talented players.

For most of their lives, they have been the best player on their team, the alpha male who things got tough on the floor, they were the ones more often than not who got things going.

Fast forward to today, a time when past success does not necessarily serve as a prelude for production in the present.

Indeed, there is very much a sense that the reset button has been hit on the basketball careers for most of the players here participating in the Salt Lake City Summer League with the Boston Celtics’ games slated to begin on Monday evening.

Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry will be coaching Boston’s team in Salt Lake City. He has indicated that while finding minutes will be difficult, everyone on the roster will get an opportunity to showcase their skills.

Among those players will be Jaylen Brown, the 6-foot-7 forward selected by Boston with the third overall pick in last month’s NBA draft. The 19-year-old spent one season at Cal before turning pro, just enough time to have earned First Team All Pac-12 honors in addition to being the conference’s rookie of the year.

His departure from Cal after just one season did not come as a surprise to anyone, not after he came in as one of the most sought-after prep stars in the country who at one point had just one player rated ahead of him – LSU’s Ben Simmons, who was the No. 1 overall pick in June’s NBA draft by Philadelphia.

Even with all the praise and accomplishments, Brown knows his role in the NBA – for now at least – will be significantly different than what it has been for most of his basketball career.

“I went through some of that at college as well,” Brown said. “We had a senior point guard (Tyrone Wallace who was the 60th and final pick in last month’s draft) who was the majority ball-handler on the team so I had to find my fit in the organization. So it’s the same process here on a bigger scale. It’s about staying patient, waiting for your opportunity and staying ready.”

Celtics rookie Demetrius Jackson was selected with the 45th overall pick, a surprising dip for a player that many projected to be drafted somewhere in the first round or at worst, the early stages of the second.

Among his strengths while at Notre Dame was his ability to hit clutch shots in big games or come up with key plays defensively.

As a second round pick, Jackson knows first and foremost he has to do enough to make the 15-man roster which is far from a given when you consider the logjam Boston has even without including him, in the backcourt.

That’s why his approach to summer league is pretty simple.

“You have to embrace your role, whatever is required of you,” he said. “And just attack it.”

That kind of mindset has done wonders for Ben Bentil, a lightly regarded player NBA prospect at Providence College who emerged as one of the nation’s top scorers while playing with point guard Kris Dunn who was the fifth overall pick in last month’s draft.

Like Jackson, Bentil was a second-round pick (51st overall) last month who needs a strong showing this summer in order to secure a guaranteed contract and with it, a roster spot for this season.

And as far as going from being a go-to guy to a role player, Bentil said he doesn’t believe the transition will be all that challenging.

“I came in as a freshman and I wasn’t the go-to guy,” said Bentil who left Providence College following his sophomore season. “I was a role player. I worked my way up. It’s starting (over) again. Hopefully when it’s all said and done I’ll be one of the go-to players.”

The transition from being a star player to having a more limited role is a subject the Celtics were quick to address with their rookies.

“That was one of the first things coach (Brad) Stevens told them,” said Shrewsberry, adding, “that there are 10 guys in the NBA that are superstars. They can go to whatever team and do what they want to. And you fit around them. Then there are 400 role players and you have to find your role, you have to do what you do well within that role on that certain team. So, and for these guys they have to find that spot; they have to find what that role is. We have to help define it for them.”

Finding requires walking a fine line between what they do best while doing so within the confines of what’s best for the team and do so without being selfish.

And Shrewsberry knows it’s easier – a lot easier – said than done.

“When we play together, everybody is going to look good,” Shrewsberry said. “When you try and overdue it and try to do too much, that’s when you start to look bad. Just make simple plays. Everybody will feed off that success; everybody will share the ball and we’ll all have fun.”

A. Sherrod Blakely can be followed on Twitter: @SherrodbCSN

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

File Photo

NBA: Congrats to the Celtics on the win, but they for sure should not have won

The NBA officials' Last Two Minute report for Tuesday is out, and boy did the Celtics get away with one!

The league admitted to missing two infractions -- both committed by Marcus Morris -- on the possession on which Morris hit a game-winning three-pointer against the Thunder. 

The C's began the possession with Morris inbounding the ball, but a stopwatch revealed to the league that Morris did not release the ball within the five seconds allotted on an inbounding play. Had the correct call been made, the ball would have been turned over to the Thunder, who at the time held a two-point lead with 7.7 seconds remaining. 

Furthermore, video replay led the league to determine that Morris traveled prior to taking the shot. The video evidence that suggested this was that Morris was wearing an NBA jersey in the video, but also he moved his pivot foot prior to the release of his dribble. That call would have also given the Thunder the ball. 

What these nerds didn't consider is that the basketball gods have more power than their stopwatches. What a win. 

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

AP Photo

Celtics have shown a knack for the comeback this year

BOSTON -- As I made my way towards the Boston Celtics locker room following their 100-99 win over Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, I walked past co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, who, as you might expect, was pleased with what he had just witnessed.
“That was a good one,” he said.
That’s one way to describe it.


But explaining the Houdini-like way the Celtics seem to get out of some serious jams over and over again, and against really good teams, is indeed a head-scratcher for most.
It’s getting to the point where we’re running out of fresh adjectives to describe this team, which has a knack for the comeback.
“Improbable” doesn’t do justice to how Boston’s hit-the-lottery luck has played out so often on nights when it seemed on the doorstep of defeat.
And this town loves a good comeback story, whether it’s Tom Brady leading the Patriots to a Super Bowl win after being down by 25 points, or the Celtics spotting the NBA champ Golden State Warriors a 17-point cushion before rallying for a meaningful November win -- a rarity in the NBA.
But the obscure and unexpected have become standard in this seemingly alternate basketball universe that the Celtics play in, one that we have been bearing witness to all season.

I mean, look at their body of work:

DECEMBER 18: Down by one on the road at Indiana in the closing seconds of play in what appears to be a tough road loss, Terry Rozier steals and races down the floor looking like Deion Sanders in high-tops, for a game-winning dunk.

DECEMBER 28: Trailing the Houston Rockets by 26 points in the third quarter, they rally back and steal the win with not one, but two offensive fouls drawn in the last minute by Marcus Smart against perennial league MVP candidate James Harden.

JANUARY 11: In London, they erased a 22-point deficit and defeated Philly.

FEBRUARY 4: There was a buzzer-beater by Al Horford to beat Portland on Super Bowl Sunday.

And . . . well, you get the idea.

Boston has six wins by a single point this season, which is tied with Miami for the season lead and is one shy of tying the franchise record for one-point wins in a season. 

In addition, Boston has won 10 games this season in which it fell behind by 12 or more points. 
Winning so many games under less-than-ideal circumstances has not only padded the Celtics' win total, but also reinforced this team with a Teflon-strong mindset. They believe they're tthe ultimate practitioner of basketball necromancy, consistently finding a way to rise up from the basketball graveyard of defeat and win in dramatic fashion.

Like they did Tuesday night against the Thunder.

How can you bank on Carmelo Anthony, a career 81.2 percent free-throw shooter, missing a pair with less than nine seconds to play?
Or botching the play Brad Stevens drew up at the end of the game -- "We kind of messed [it] up," said Jayson Tatum -- but, rather than it leading to a turnover, instead becoming a game-winning 3-pointer by Marcus Morris with 1.8 seconds to spare? 


 It was another crazy ending in what has been a season filled with bizarre finishes, jaw-dropping rallies and a never-say-it’s-over brand of basketball that has kept Celtics fans on the edge of their seats all season.
“It’s great to be in a situation where you’re down six with under a minute to play or whatever it was, and you find a way to win the game,” said Stevens. “That’s going to be pretty unique, but they just kept playing the next possession and we were fortunate that that shot went down. That was a heck of a shot by Marcus."
A heck of a shot?
But in this bizarro world of Celtics basketball this season, it was predictable as the Thunder became yet another team to play Boston and leave wondering the same thing most Celtics fans do … “Did THAT just happen?