Thou shall not make a bad Christmas pun. Thou shall not make a bad Christmas pun. Thou shall not..
Damn it, I’m going to try, but it’s going to be difficult to avoid Christmas puns today. Dionte Christmas had 19 points in the first half of the Summer Celtics’ 94-73 win against the Orlando Magic, finishing with 21 points, five rebounds and four assists.
For those who don’t know much about Christmas (/hits self to keep self from mentioning Santa Claus), he starred at Temple University before taking his talents overseas when NBA teams decided he wasn’t good enough to enter the Association directly after college. He played in Greece last season, averaging 18.6 points on 46.3 percent shooting (36.0 percent from 3-point land) to go with 4.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. More than half of his field goal attempts were from deep, so his perimeter shooting is probably better than his average percentage would indicate. He has nothing to do with reindeer, eggnog or Miracle on 34th Street, as far as I know (damn it, Jay, you did it!), but he has impressed with the Celtics throughout summer league nonetheless.
Known as a one-trick wonder in college (his DraftExpress profile notes that during his last college game, he guarded Arizona State’s “lesser players” while teammates by the names of Ty Abott and Rihard Kuksiks defended James Harden), Christmas has spent the last week proving himself as significantly more than a shooter. He chases opponents around screens. He entered today’s game averaging 6.5 rebounds, despite standing only 6-foot-5 (probably in high heels) as a shooting guard. He made an around-the-back pass today that Kendall Gill called “the best pass by far that I have seen in the past five days of Summer League.” He can handle the ball a little, he generally made good decisions all week, and he just seemed to have Rudy’s “I’m going to make Notre Dame’s football team even though I’m not nearly as physically talented as these dudes” mentality. Christmas has been an unexpected delight. He also, in all likelihood, played his final game in a Boston Celtics uniform on Friday, summer league or otherwise. He will play with another team in the Summer League (Scott Schroeder says he’ll play with the Rockets, but the Rockets’ official roster doesn’t list him — I’ve sent an email to Christmas’ agency but haven’t heard back yet), and Boston might not have an extra regular season roster spot to use on a guard.
If Christmas is looking to latch onto an NBA team (which I assume is his goal, since he made the effort to play in summer league and all), Boston probably isn’t the place for him. The Celtics already have Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley and Jason Terry, who all deserve big minutes in the back court. They are looking for another shooting guard via free agency or a sign-and-trade. They are increasingly likely to pick up their option on E’Twaun Moore, who continued to make good decisions on Friday. As impressive as Christmas has been this week, he’ll accept a training camp invitation from anywhere but Boston if he’s smart. And that’s nothing against Christmas. Me gusta his game, even if I’m not sure everything he did this week can translate to the NBA level.
When I watch E’Twaun Moore play in summer league, I envision his poise and ability to make smart decisions (not to mention his nice jump shot) helping him to eventually become a valuable role player. When I watch Christmas, I wonder what would keep him on the floor at the NBA level. Is he quick enough to defend NBA athletes? Would he keep rebounding against the bigger, stronger, faster players in The League? Does rebounding even get a two-guard onto the court? Is his shot, which was streaky this week, accurate enough to make him a scoring threat off the bench? He’s been a pleasant surprise, but can he translate?
I know Christmas has earned the privilege of participating in an NBA training camp this fall. He was fantastic all week, especially today. I just don’t know, yet, the answers to any of the questions in the previous paragraph.
More observations on the rest of the roster coming later, don’t worry.