I’m not going to mince words, guys. Oliver Lafayette is absolutely Rajon Rondo’s top backup, Luke Harangody will undoubtedly be able to seamlessly take Perk’s place in the starting lineup, and Jaycee Carroll is certainly Ray Allen’s replacement if Allen decides not to come back.
Okay, if you didn’t get it yet, the previous paragraph was sarcasm. It’s only summer league, guys! Let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. That said, there were a lot of good things to take away from tonight’s game. (And a few bad things.)
- The Celtics were up 15 at halftime (47-32), but ended up losing 87-82. Don’t get me wrong though, it wasn’t a bad thing that they lost. It was actually kinda nice seeing the C’s blow a double-digit-point second-half lead and not wanting to roast my head in a microwave.
- Oliver Lafayette has some game. I know it’s only summer league and I know a good summer league performance means, oh, about nothing in the large scheme of things. But Lafayette showed some real skills tonight. He’s smooth and much more of a true point guard than I thought. He can handle the ball, run an offense, and has nice court vision. That said, even if he continues his great play from tonight, it’s going to be tough for him to make the Celtics’ roster. That’s what happens when you’re behind an All-Star and a 1st-round pick on the depth chart.
- Luke Harangody can shoot the rock. Harangody hit his first three-pointer and I thought, “Okay, Luke! Working on your game since Notre Dame!” He hit his second three-pointer and I thought, “Damn, that release of his looks ugly but that jumper is cash.” He hit his third three-pointer and I thought, “Okay, who needs a healthy Perk? We’ve got ‘Gody.” He hit his fourth and I immediately bought tickets to the 2031 Luke Harangody Hall of Fame induction speech. Seriously, though, Harangody’s game still has a lot of limitations. But if he can consistently step outside and drill three-pointers like they’re layups, he’ll definitely find a spot in the NBA.
- Still talking about Harangody, James Harden tried a tomahawk dunk on the big fella’s head. It didn’t go in, but I thought it was worth mentioning.
- Semih Erden isn’t a stiff. Unfortunately for the Celtics, he wasn’t very productive either. But he’s mobile, plays good pick-and-roll defense, and looks like an over-sized, Turkish Dawson’s Creek star. Erden probably has a long ways left to go, but the potential is there. One downfall? I know I’ve only seen him play one game, but Erden has hands of steel. And I’m not saying they’re super-strong hands, either.
- I think I liked Artsiom Parakhouski more than I liked Erden. Parakhouski gets after it, he’s a bruiser, and he grabbed 10 rebounds in limited minutes. A garbage pail type of guy.
- Tony Gaffney can play a lot better. I hope, at least. Gaffney was almost completely non-existent during his time on the court. Danny Ainge said it will take Gaffney awhile to get back into game shape, and that we should judge him more from games 4-5 than game 1-2. I’m keeping that in mind while I write this paragraph, or else my Gaffney analysis might have been a lot harsher.
- I have a dirty little secret. I am completely infatuated with the way Eric Maynor plays basketball. He’s not the best point guard in the league, and probably not one of the best 25 PGs. But he’s incredibly smooth and always seems in complete control. And I love him.
- Staying with the Thunder, B.J. Mullens is getting a little better at basketball. He didn’t look THAT bad tonight. But that facial hair of his? Let’s just say somebody needs to invest in a razor.
- Still sticking with the Thunder, Kevin Durant was at the game acting as an assistant coach. More than perhaps any star in the NBA, Durant just gets it. He doesn’t have to be in Orlando right now, helping OKC’s youngsters. He has no obligation to do it whatsoever. But he still does it, because he knows that somehow, someway, his presence at summer league will help the Thunder down the road. Durant is just a class act.
- Jaycee Carroll looks like he should be playing Division Three basketball somewhere, but the kid can play. He’s basically an American version of Juan Carlos Navarro. By that, I mean that he’ll always be able to score but – in the NBA – couldn’t guard a soul and, at only 6’2,” can’t play point guard.
- If Jaycee Carroll looks like a Division Three player (and believe me, he does), Matt Janning might looks like a NESCAC recruit. Janning was the winner of this year’s Ervin Gallagher Award, given annually to Northeastern’s top male athlete. Unfortunately for Janning, that doesn’t do anything to increase his NBA potential.
- Ryan Thompson wasn’t great, but he has a nice basketball IQ. He doesn’t have any physical attributes that stood out, but Thompson is a solid basketball player. It’s too bad that alone probably won’t get him into the NBA.
- Rodney Green showed flashes of brilliance (a sweet reverse lay-in being one of them), but also showed an incomplete and erratic game.
- I don’t know what happened to him, but Vyacheslav Kravtsov didn’t play tonight. I think they’re saving the Ukraine Train as a secret weapon.
There was nothing shameful about losing to this Oklahoma City Thunder team. Hell, they had just about half of their regular rotation playing in summer league, and the C’s still had them on the ropes. Not that winning or losing matters one bit. It’s only summer league.
Game 2 is tomorrow at 5:00 p.m. May Harangody be as hot, Oliver Lafayette as in control, and Tony Gaffney an entirely different player.