Celtics Question of the Day: Meaningful minutes for Jordan Mickey?
Will Jordan Mickey see meaningful minutes?
From now until training camp begins, we’ll be asking a question about the Celtics and their upcoming season. Today: Will Jordan Mickey see meaningful minutes this season?
BOSTON – A strong summer league showing in 2015 resulted in Jordan Mickey, a second-round pick of the Boston Celtics, parlaying that into first-round pick money.
For the Celtics, it was a no-brainer to sign him to a four-year, $5 million contract because of the 6-foot-9 big man’s upside and potential.
But let’s face it.
Ballin’ out in summer league play is nice.
Ballin’ out in the Development League?
Yeah, that’s pretty cool too.
But none of that matters if you don’t handle your business against NBA competition, something Mickey has done little of in his still-blossoming NBA career.
Will this season be different?
Here are a couple keys to Mickey getting on the floor this season.
EXPAND SHOOTING RANGE
Shuffling back and forth between the Celtics and their D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws, Mickey gradually began to make in-game strides towards being more of a stretch big.
With the Maine Red Claws, Mickey was a D-League All-Star before finishing the season averaging 17.4 points, 10.3 rebounds, a league-high 4.4 blocked shots while shooting 53.1 percent from the field and 35 percent from 3-point range.
Averaging a double-double in the D-League was not a surprise, especially when you consider he played in more D-League games (23) than NBA matchups (16).
But Mickey becoming more of a 3-point threat is exactly why the D-League has tremendous value for teams.
Mickey averaged just under one 3-point attempt per game with the Maine Red Claws, something that would have been nearly impossible for him to do in his limited minutes with the Celtics.
Becoming more comfortable with the 3-point shot in the D-League should provide some much-needed confidence for Mickey to take that shot this season.
And if he’s capable of hitting that shot while still defending and rebounding at a good clip, his minutes will steadily rise.
He has the physical tools to play both power forward and sometimes center depending on the opposing team’s lineup. Regardless of which position he defends, the NBA of today requires versatility not only in terms of defense but also when it comes to shooting the ball.
Last season he shot just 36.4 percent from the field while appearing in 16 games with the Celtics.
While he has yet to take an NBA 3-pointer, you can bet on him looking to take that shot more this season or at the very least shoot more shots outside of the paint.
GET AN UNEXPECTED BREAK
As important as it is to prepare for an opportunity, the reality of Mickey’s plight is there’s no guarantee that chance to play meaningful minutes will come.
The Celtics have lots of young talent on their roster, but their youth movement is very different than most franchises along those lines.
Most teams tend to play their young guys a lot more than the Celtics do.
That’s because most of those teams with rosters loaded with teenagers, are going to be lose a lot of games regardless of who they put on the floor.
So, why not play the young guys, get them some experience and maybe in a year or two it’ll pay off in terms of being more competitive and with that, win more games.
But the Celtics are trying to make a deep playoff run and have lots of players with the talent to do that, so the reliance on young talent isn’t as great with them.
The upside to that is it allows young players like Mickey to learn from veterans who not only know how to play in the NBA, but also how to win.
However, it also means that minutes for young players like Mickey will be in limited supply which to some degree will stunt their growth.
That’s why for Mickey, he has to catch an unplanned break such as a player missing games while recovering from an injury in the offseason, a scenario that may in fact play out as Kelly Olynyk (right shoulder surgery) is expected to be back sometime next month.
You certainly don’t wish harm or bad health on any teammate, but if one of Boston’s bigs does in fact suffer a minor injury-related setback, it could set into motion a breakthrough season for Mickey.