In a rebuilding year such as this upcoming season, player development is key, and Summer League is a great opportunity for players to showcase their skills. Just last year, we saw Dionte Christmas, a mostly unknown player, excel in Summer League and receive an invite to training camp. For guys like rookie center Kelly Olynyk, this is a time to see if the Celtics invested their 1st round pick in the right player, and if he’s ready for a fairly large role either coming off the bench or starting alongside Jared Sullinger. Let’s get to know the Celtics’ 2013 Summer League team as it stands right now.
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Kelly Olynyk: Picked 13th in this years draft via a trade with Dallas, Olynyk will be the most interesting player to most people. Last year, he led Gonzaga to a #1 seed in the NCAA tournament before losing in the 3rd round. He led Gonzaga in scoring and was very efficient from the floor as he had an excellent 68% true shooting percentage. He’s a sharpshooting 7 footer with the ability to put the ball on the floor and has huge potential to be a very efficient stretch four at the NBA level. There are major questions about his deficiencies on the defensive end, and he has a huge learning curve on that side, but he has some time to prove his worth on that end.
Fab Melo: Infamous for his adversarial relationship with door frames, Melo didn’t get a lot of chances to prove himself worthy of an NBA roster spot last season. He spent most of the season in Maine and performed adequately, putting up averages of 9.8 ppg, 6.0 rpg and 3.1 blocks per game. His biggest weakness is his I.Q. and court awareness. If he can prove that he’s improved in that aspect, we may get to see a little more Fab this year.
Tony Mitchell: Mitchell is a 6-foot-6 small forward from Alabama and last years D-League rookie of the year. He’s an explosive leaper whose also displayed an ability to score in bunches as he was the 2nd leading scorer in the D-League. Mitchell has the chance to be one of the few to get training camp invites from the Celtics.
Colton Iverson: Traded to the Celtics in the late 2nd round, the 7-foot rookie is looking for a home in Boston. In his last season at Colorado State, he posted career highs of 14.2 PPG and 9.8 RPG. He’s a hardworking player whose main objective is to clean up the glass much like Jared Sullinger. His shot at a spot on the may be largely dependent on whether Boston decides to bring back Shavlik Randolph.
Phil Pressey: Immediately after the draft, Boston signed undrafted free agent Phil Pressey. Hailing from the University of Missouri, Pressey shot an abysmal 37% from the field last year, but it’s not his scoring that intrigues Boston. In three years at college, Pressey showcased that he has potential to be pretty proficient backup ball handler at the NBA level. His size is a legitimate concern only standing at 5-foot-11 with a wingspan of 6-foot-2.
Darius Johnson-Odom: Picked in the 2nd round of last year’s draft, Odom spent most of the first half of last season going back and forth between the Lakers and their D-League affiliate the Los Angles D-Fenders. He played 13 games with the D-Fenders averaging 21 PPG on 44% shooting before being waived by the Lakers in January. A very good perimeter shooter but lacking in traditional point guard skills for his size and being undersized for shooting guard, Odom will have a difficult time making the team.
Deshawn Sims: A young journeyman and former player for the Red Claws, the 6-foot-8 Sims currently plays for Hekmeh, a team in the Lebanese Basketball League. In 2010-11 Sims played 48 games for the Celtics’ D-League affiliate Red Claws and was named D-League Rookie of the Year. Sims is a versatile but somewhat undersized power forward. After going undrafted in the 2010 draft and two stints with the Red Claws, Sims went overseas playing for Teams in Greece, Puerto Rico and South Korea. I’d be surprised to see him get a training camp invite, but you never know.
Courtney Fells: Going undrafted in 2009 after playing 4 seasons at NC State, Fells played in Isreal last year with Hapoel Jerusalem. His last season in Isreal saw him post averages of 13 ppg, 6.7 rpg and 2.3 apg.
Tim Abromaitis: Abromaitis went undrafted after his last season at Notre Dame in 2012. He spent last season playing professionally in France. A 3pt specialist of sorts with not much else to offer Abromaitis will have to really impress scouts if he wants a training camp invite.
Lawerence Hill: Hill is a former undrafted free agent from the class of 09. He played 4 years at Stanford before 3 Summer League stints with the Warriors, Suns and Lakers and has only captured one training camp invitation from the Kings in 2011 before being cut in the preseason. He spent last year in Israel playing for Hapoel Unet Holon.
Jayson Granger: Granger has also been added to the Summer League roster. Granger is a 6-foot-2 point guard who has played for CB Estudiantes in Spain since 2006.
For many of these players Summer League might be the closest they ever come to fulfilling a dream of playing in the NBA. Only a few will get training camp invites and even fewer will make preseason rosters, so don’t expect to see too many lackluster efforts.