With the most exciting moments of the offseason behind us, Celtics Town is counting down the Celtics’ roster from 16 to one. We’ll offer speculation on the role each player has to play, and where they’ll be in the rotation as we look towards the upcoming season. If you missed the last column in this series you can check it out here.
Confession time: I’m one of those obnoxious d-bags who takes pick up basketball games too seriously. I don’t yell at my teammates or anything, but I definitely take tips from my favorite players on how to be a cocky jackass. When I hit a three, I skip backward down the court with my shooting hand in the air staring at my defender, or I jog away shaking my head like Pierce on this play. When I get hit on a layup attempt, I mutter “And one!” to myself, even though we don’t play free throws. Put simply: you would want to drown me in a Gatorade cooler if you played with me. And if we had Gatorade coolers.
A few weeks ago, I was attending my first NBA event with media credentials: Summer League in Orlando. Having access to go up to Andre Drummond and ask for an interview (even if he did turn me down) was quite the revelation, and getting to talk to players like Perry Jones III and Adam Morrison was an amazing experience (seriously, I interviewed Adam Morrison. It was awesome). But the best part of the week was watching the games and seeing the player interaction. Orlando’s Summer League was a media-only event, so the only noise apart from the game in the gym was a quiet murmur of scouts, writers, and agents talking. This meant that every coach’s instruction and every player yelling a curse word after a turnover was easily audible (my favorite: Cole Aldrich was complaining about a bad pass from Reggie Jackson. Lazar Heyward at the top of his lungs: “F*** THAT, CATCH THE BALL”).
Most importantly, I could hear trash talk with ease. During one game, Dionte Christmas put up a three, and as he rose for the shot, a member of the opposing team’s bench yelled “Get the rebound!” The shot swished through. Christmas spun toward the bench with his arm still in the air. “Can’t rebound that,” he spat, staring at the bench, before turning back up court, shaking his head.
Needless to say, I was solidly in Christmas’s camp after that. And though I didn’t get a chance to interview him, as the week progressed and Christmas looked stronger and stronger, I hoped he would get an invitation to training camp. He did. I was stoked.
If you are looking for someone random to cheer for next season, Christmas would be a good choice. Dionte has spent a lot of time in NBA Summer Leagues and only a month on an actual roster (Philadelphia). After playing overseas for the past few seasons, Christmas passed over more lucrative, guaranteed offers in Europe to pursue his dream of playing in the NBA. Boston has given him that opportunity. It’s always fun to cheer for a journeyman, since every journeyman has some sort of an underdog story. Christmas is a classic example of this.
It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what Christmas’ role will be in Boston this year, partly because we know very little about him. Since he hasn’t played in the NBA, we can’t examine him statistically, nor can we examine him versus NBA competition. He played well overseas, and he played very well in college at Temple. His performance in Orlando and Vegas was excellent. But apart from that, we know very little for certain.
Christmas is built like a shooting guard at 6’5, but the Celtics are well stocked at shooting guard, especially when Avery Bradley comes back. With Bradley, Lee, and Terry (at times) coming off the bench ahead of him, it’s difficult to imagine that Christmas will get a ton of meaningful minutes at his natural position this season, but he may be able to play bigger and back up Pierce and Jeff Green at the three. And while Christmas demonstrated the ability to guard small forwards during Summer League play, the fact remains that you can’t judge a player’s real potential based on their play in Summer League. Christmas displayed great range and accuracy from beyond the arc. As long as he shoots accurately from three point range and defends well, Christmas could see some real playing time, especially before Avery Bradley comes back, giving the 25 year old a chance to prove himself as a player.
But to be honest, all I’m really hoping for is that Christmas will get a chance to do some trash talking. “Can’t rebound that!” is getting a little old. I need some new material.
Follow Tom on Twitter @Tom_NBA.