Somebody named Jonathan Gibson, who played his college ball at “I need to Google Jonathan Gibson really quickly because I have no idea where” University, scored 15 fourth-quarter points on Tuesday as the Boston Celtics overcame a 17-point deficit to edge the Brooklyn Nets at the Orlando Summer League. Almost as importantly, Adam Morrison still exists, and he now looks like a cross between Rambo, a loyal Grateful Dead follower, and that dude who cried during the NCAA tournament at Gonzaga before becoming the third pick of the 2006 NBA Draft and later winning two NBA titles.
You probably want to know how the Summer Celtics performed, so a rundown of certain players’ performances follows:
Sullinger was blocked down low by some dude from Fordham I’ve never heard of. He airballed a 6-foot shot while being defended by a small forward, Al Thornton. He shot 1-for-6 in the first half and continued the ugliness into the third and fourth quarters, generally lending support to the “HE’S NOT ATHLETIC ENOUGH OR THIN ENOUGH OR LONG ENOUGH TO SUCCEED IN THE NBA!!!” theory. He scored just eight points but also chased down 12 rebounds, made great pass after great pass, took a charge and displayed immense strength on the low block. He also made me swoon while tweeting afterward, “Wasn’t pretty but we won. That’s ALL THAT MATTERS.”
Where that leaves us: We know nothing more about Sullinger than we did before Summer League started. He’s a talented, skilled, slightly-overweight big man who doesn’t bounce as high as most other big men do but has always managed to produce consistently nonetheless.
Joseph (11 points, five rebounds) can play, and I’m not sure anybody should be surprised. He’s a 6-foot-8 small forward with soft touch who led the No. 2-ranked NCAA team last year in scoring. That means he averaged more points than teammate Dion Waiters, the No. 4 pick, and almost double as many as Fab Melo, obviously one of Boston’s first-rounders. Joseph can score, he’s smart, and he does a lot of things. He’s active on the glass, instinctively knows when to cut, and capitalizes on opportunities, sometimes even creating them just by hard work. There are still questions surrounding whether Joseph will succeed in the NBA. He’s not the world’s finest athlete or its most explosive. But he’s producing in summer league just like he produced in college. We’ll consider that a good sign.
P.S. – Joseph is the current leader for the annual “Celtics rookie most likely to be their 14th man in January while drawing millions of pleas from fans desperate for Doc Rivers to give rookies more playing time” award.
Moore’s playing for his Boston Celtics life this summer, and he hasn’t shown us anything to rattle his reputation a solid combo-guard who patiently bides his time to find, and hopefully capitalize on, openings. He is trying to prove that he can play point guard as well as shooting guard — and with eight assists compared to just four turnovers in 58 combined minutes over the first two games, he’s doing an alright (though not spectacular) job. Moore is what we thought he was: a poised, composed, fearless player who’s unafraid to shoot even if the misses mount. He’s not a deadly shooter but he’s not bad. He’s not the best dribbler but he can handle pressure. He’s not the best passer but he does an okay job running an offense. Moore hasn’t stood out like he probably hoped to so far this summer while trying to convince the Celtics to guarantee the second year of his contract. But he’s also been Boston’s best, most consistent guard, and he has a +25 rating over two games.
He can shoot open mid-range jumpers. He’s athletic enough that he almost died during a mid-air collision on Tuesday (don’t worry, he stood right up and laughed about it afterward). He’s active defensively and on the glass. And other than what I described in the previous three sentences, I’m not sure Johnson has any other NBA talents. He doesn’t have any semblance of a post game, can easily be pushed around down low and often doesn’t seem to have the best idea of Boston’s offensive game plan. Johnson still needs a lot of work. And as a four-year college veteran with one NBA season under his belt, he shouldn’t. At least not against Summer League competition.
Williams tried really hard. He’s as athletic as the kangaroo I’ve always wanted to see in person. He’s prone to make confounding mistakes, like launching a 3-pointer yesterday although he’s never hit a single trey during his four-year NBA career. He totally lacks any semblance of polish but still tries to be the role player the Celtics want him to be. I can’t see him earning a valuable role with the Celtics next season, but he’s still an interesting prospect who could develop into something quite productive if he ever increases his basketball IQ.
Melo didn’t produce much on Tuesday, like he didn’t produce much on Monday. But he’s a 7-footer with a large frame who can move his feet and block shots (see: this monster from Tuesday). It’s not difficult to envision a day when Melo becomes a destructive defensive force. But that day, if it comes, isn’t now.
Encouraging, though: Melo already seems to have a nice handle on defensive rotations even though he has only played basketball for five years and almost solely played zone defense at Syracuse.
If he shot the ball well (1-for-6 from behind the arc), Christmas could have had a really good showing. But he still did a lot of really good things while filling up the stat sheet (10 points, five assists, four rebounds) for the second straight contest. Plus, it’s always funny to hear my roommates’ bad Santa Claus jokes when I exclaim something like, “I’m liking Christmas so far.”
After extensive Google research, I learned that Gibson played his college ball at New Mexico State (17.5 points and 40.6 percent 3-point shooting on a boatload of attempts as a senior in 2010) and spent last season with Trabzonspor in Turkey (where he averaged 19.9 points with 39.8 percent 3-point shooting). He can fill ‘er up. The 6-foot-1 guard poured in 15 of his 17 points during the fourth quarter Tuesday, helping to lead the Celtics back from 17 points down.
I don’t think Gibson will make the Celtics. I’m not sure he could defend in the NBA. He’s a shooting guard trapped in a point guard’s body. It’s almost impossible to see him sharing the second-unit backcourt with Jason Terry, a considerably-more accomplished clone. But for one afternoon in the middle of June, Gibson made one hell of an impression while helping to make my life significantly more exciting.
That’s probably a sad statement about my life, huh?