You know what’s the only thing worse than seeing your team lose a heart-wrenching Game 7 in the NBA Finals? (Just know, I contemplated jumping out the top-floor window as I wrote that sentence.) Having that heart-wrenching loss be the last basketball game you can watch for a while. Because, believe me, there’s nothing worse than baseball season. Watching web gems gets old after, oh, about half an episode of SportsCenter. And watching Lebron drive away from his latest meeting with a free agent suitor? Wake me some time around Halloween, please.
Or just wake me up for 5:00 p.m. tonight. Because while watching Vyacheslav Kortstov, Tony Gaffney, Semih Erden and Oliver Lafayette isn’t exactly the same as cheering for the Huge Cuatro, it’s basketball. And it’s the Celtics. And it gets my juices flowing, regardless of whether I actually recognize any of the players.
It may not be the same as watching Game 7, but at least I won’t need thirteen boxes of tissues if the C’s lose, ya know? And it’s basketball. Professional basketball. And it’s my Celtics, and a few players who could pay dividends either next year or down the road. So I’m excited as hell. I’ve had July 5 circled on my calendar since, well, since the excruciating happenings of June 17. (Hold on: Just slamming the mouse against my head, repeatedly. Okay, I’m back.)
Here’s the C’s summer league roster and a little description of each player:
Tony Gaffney – 6’8″ 215 lbs. (UMass)
A long, athletic hard-worker out of UMass. In college, Gaffney was a 6’8″ center known for punching shots into the 5th row. In the NBA, he’ll have to transition himself into a small forward because he’s too short and thin to play in the post. He has all the physical tools you’d want, but does he have the skill? We’ll see. Like every other guy on the roster, Gaffney is fighting for a contract.
Oliver Lafayette – 6’2″ 190 lbs. (Houston)
I have to admit, I had barely ever heard the name Oliver Lafayette before the Celtics surprised everyone and signed him as the season winded down. Then he made his first NBA action and looked every bit the part of NBA point guard. Last year, Lafayette might have been the first player ever to get cut from the D-League and then called up to the NBA in the same season. And the team that cut him? Lafayette dropped 32 on them later in the season. It hasn’t been confirmed, but I heard he winked at the coach every time he made a basket.
Luke Harangody – 6’8″ 255 lbs. (Notre Dame)
An absolute beast in college and one of the premier players in the Big East. Actually, one of the premier players in the entire country. The only problem? His physical gifts aren’t exactly what most scouts would describe as “gifts.” He’s short, can’t jump, and his feet don’t move laterally like they’re supposed to. Oh yeah, and he has a wingspan that not even Jay Bilas would want to talk about. So can Harangody overcome all that? Can his skill still shine through, even against the best athletes in the world? I wouldn’t bet my life on it. But at least he has Danny Ainge’s solid track record on his side.
Semih Erden – 7’0″ 240 lbs. (Turkey)
His numbers have been far from outstanding in the Turkish League, but the C’s 2008 draft pick DID start for a championship team last season. Still, I’m not so sure I want the best thing I can say about a Celtic to be, “Well, he DID start for the Turkish League champion!” Erden has some tools, but he’s got a long way to go before he’ll become a contributor.
Art Parkahouski – 6’11″ 260 lbs. (Radford)
According to Sports Illustrated, Parkahouski has one goal: “to become the first Belarusian to play in the NBA.” I wouldn’t hold your breath, Art. Then again, maybe he actually has a chance. Parkahouski put up some pretty serious stats last season, averaging 21.4 points and 13.4 rebounds. The drawback? He played at Radford, so those stats were accumulated mostly against players giving up three or four inches to the Belarusian Beast. Bottom line? When you’re 6’11,” 260 pounds and averaged 21/13 in college, there’s probably a pretty good reason why you weren’t drafted.
Rodney Green – 6’5″ 190 lbs. La Salle
A 6’5″ point guard with very good athleticism. Sounds great, right? Until you realize his point guard skills aren’t what they should be, he was hardly an efficient player in college, and he’ll probably play shooting guard in the NBA. If Green can show point guard skills, he’ll have a chance of making the Celtics roster. But it’s a big if, considering he spent his entire college career playing PG and still didn’t demonstrate the skills necessary to run an NBA offense.
Matt Janning – 6’4″ 198 lbs. (Northeastern)
Janning’s a great story: The Northeastern grad chosen to play for the Boston Celtics summer league team. But Janning doesn’t even have a Draft Express profile. I think that should tell us something.
Ryan Thompson – 6’6″ 220 lbs. (Rider)
I’d much rather have his brother, Jason. Still, Ryan had a tremendous Portsmouth Invitational (an invitation-only draft camp for seniors), leading the camp in scoring and shooting an obscene 64.3% from behind the arc. I’d be a little skeptical of his great performance in Portsmouth, though: He was only a 32% three-point shooter in college, while shooting from a shorter arc. Thompson has a well-rounded skill set but doesn’t have one skill that stands out. Plus, he’s only an average athlete.
Ryan Wittman – 6’7″ 215 lbs. (Cornell)
A sweet shooter from Cornell. Can really fill it up, and is a super-smart player. For those of you who remember the old Stanford teams, he kind of reminds me of Casey Jacobsen. Of course, that might just be because they’re both white shooters. Wittman is a step slow for NBA purposes, but can certainly put the ball in the hole.
Vyacheslav Kravtsov – 7’0″ 270 lbs. (Ukraine)
Maybe the most intriguing of all Celtics summer league prospects. I wrote a piece about the seven-foot Ukrainian yesterday, so check it out. I’m excited for the Ukraine Train era.
Jaycee Carroll – 6’2″ 180 lbs. (Utah St.)
It’s a damn shame Jaycee Carroll is only 6’2″ tall and not overly athletic: If he were any taller or any more explosive, Carroll would be one of the NBA’s top shooters. As it is, Carroll has had to settle for being one of the ACB’s best scoring threats. (For those of you who don’t know, the ACB is an extremely competitive professional league in Spain.) Though his size and speed limit his potential impact in the NBA, Carroll can score buckets rolling out of bed.
DeShawn Sims – 6’8″ 225 lbs. (Michigan)
Pretty skilled, decently athletic, solid numbers last season. Sounds a lot like “D-League” or “overseas” to me.
P.S. – Don’t be surprised if Boston gets smacked tonight. The Oklahoma City Thunder are led by James Harden, Eric Maynor and Serge Ibaka — three legitimate NBA rotation players. With the Celtics having absolutely zero rotation players, this one could be a bloodbath. Then again, the Celtics could win by 40. But that’s not what this is all about: It’s summer league, people, so enjoy the action, judge some talent, and relax.