Five takeaways from Celtics' performance in Summer League
BOSTON — The Boston Celtics’ slate of summer league games came to a earlier-than-expected ending when the top-seeded Celtics were knocked off in the Las Vegas quarterfinals by eighth-seeded Memphis Saturday afternoon.
While the summer didn’t end on a high note in terms of wins and losses, there’s no way to view Boston’s overall summer league experience as anything other than a success. There were players who emerged that showed the kind of promise that maybe — just maybe — this upcoming season won’t be as big a drop-off for Boston as many anticipate.
And for a franchise whose team was anything but likable last season, there were a number of developments within this group that indicate this team, certainly more than last year’s squad, will be one Celtics Nation will get behind quickly. While all those factors are important, there’s more — a lot more — one can reflect upon now that the Celtics' summer season is officially over.
Here are five takeaways from the Boston Celtics’ summer league season.
By no means was Tacko Fall the best player for Boston, but there was no one who generated more interest and excitement than the 7-foot-7 giant. But here’s the thing. The more you saw him out there, the clearer it became that he’s more than just a freakishly long athlete. Tacko runs the floor better than most expect, even beating some guys down floor for one of his no-need-to-jump dunks. But questions/concerns still exist when it comes to him being a pick-and-roll defender on switches. However, he showed enough from a basketball standpoint to at least garner a closer look if you’re the Celtics, who are as lean as we’ve seen in years when it comes to big men.
FIRST-RATE SUCCESS WITH SECOND-ROUND PICKS
The way this summer is playing out, there's a good chance that Boston's second-round picks will see more court time this season than their first-rounders. Carsen Edwards, taken by Boston with the No. 33 overall pick, did enough to where it's clear he will be in the hunt to be Boston's backup point guard this season. And Tremont Waters, selected with the 51st overall pick by the Celtics, has already earned himself a two-way contract, which will allow him to play both for the Maine Red Claws of the G-League, as well as spend up to 45 days with the Celtics. Both came into summer league with no guarantees as second-round picks, only to both be signed to contracts by Boston (Edwards' deal is believed to be a four-year pact worth about $4.5 million) by the time summer league ended.
ROBERT WILLIAMS III
Take out the first month or so of his time as a Boston Celtic, and there’s a lot to like about the trajectory of Robert Williams’ career. The physical transformation of his body is undeniable, having lost some weight but significantly improving his conditioning in the process. It was an encouraging sign to see him have stretches in which he dominated the paint during summer league before finishing with a near double-double average of 9.0 points and 9.8 rebounds. Of course the competition for playing time will be much stiffer when training camp begins, but Williams has shown enough in the summer where it won’t be a surprise to anyone if he has a more consistent role this season as a starter or key reserve. Time Lord has arrived, and it doesn’t look like he’s leaving anytime soon!
You hear the phrase, “impacts winning,” thrown around all the time. But there are certain players we see whose play clearly has a significant impact on games even when their numbers suggest otherwise. Grant Williams is very much that kind of player. And it is a skill that we saw on full display during summer league, and will likely see it to a lesser degree with the Celtics this season. But the bigger development this summer was his 3-point shooting, which was dormant for most of his career at Tennessee. This summer, he connected on a respectable 36.8 percent (7-of-19) of his 3-pointers. It wasn’t as much the percentage of 3-pointers made, but the willingness for him to work on what many deemed a weakness, and show a desire to show the fruits of his labor in games by launching up 3.8 attempts per game.
MAINE RED CLAWS WILL BE FUN TO WATCH
The way Tremont Waters was able to squirt past defenders at one end of the floor and drop dimes at the other, the Celtics have a nice playmaker who will be on a two-way contract this year. Waters’ style of play by itself will make for some entertaining times with the Maine Red Claws. But when you throw in the potential to have Tacko Fall in the mix as well, the Red Claws instantly become a must-see team on the G-League circuit. Of course the focus will be on the development of players who could potentially be called up and play for the Celtics. But short of that, let’s have some fun and some Tacko Time while we’re at it!!