O.D. Anosike – Anosike played in summer league last year with the Nuggets, then split last year between Italy and France. He started in Italy with Pesaro, and averaged 14.3 points and a league leading 13.1 rebounds in 35 minutes per game. He then bought himself out of his contract in May and finished the season with Strasbourg, where he did little in six games, averaging only 4.5 points and 3.3 rebounds in 19 minutes per game. The 6’7 Anosike is self-evidently an extremely proficient rebounder – strong, relentless, a decent athlete and a tireless worker, he uses his strength and determination to clean the boards, box out and rebound out of his area. The offensive skills, however, are lacking – Anosike posts little, shoots less, has no range and a very poor free throw stroke, good for some occasional pick-and-roll action but a finisher in the paint at best, and even then not the best one. Given his size, the fact that he is exclusively a paint player and the fact that he does not protect the rim, Anosike has few hopes of joining the NBA level. But Italy will have him back for many a year to come.
Chris Babb – Babb started the season with the Celtics and also ended it there. He is signed through 2017, albeit all unguaranteed from here on out, and played 14 games with the team down the stretch. He didn’t play them well, exclusively casting up threes and missing most of them, but he played them nonetheless. In the time in between, Babb played 33 D-League games with the Maine Red Claws and averaged 12.0 points, 6.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 37.5 minutes per game. As effective of a role player as Babb is – demonstrating good IQ, moving the ball around, throwing the occasional nice pass, rebounding a bit, and of course catching and shooting – it is a bit odd why the Celtics see so much in a player who just isn’t that productive and who is merely a decent shooter on low volume, wide open attempts. They clearly like his chances of being a quality defensive player at the two guard position, despite being slightly small for the position and not a great athlete. It’s a generous projection. But given that Babb contributes a bit of everything (save for penetrating the first line of a defence or contributing any offence inside the arc) whilst making strikingly few errors and playing hard, it’s easy enough to see what they like. They might run out of roster spots, though.
Dairis Bertans – Davis’s brother is smaller at 6’4, older at 24, and is a slightly undersized (for the NBA) shooting guard instead of a forward. He is something of a classic Eastern European guard, a pick-and-roll role player who runs around a lot but doesn’t leap, who defends by rotating and fouling (they’re told to) rather than being able to lock anyone up, and who shoots well without being exceptional at it. Save for his occasional secondary ball handling and pick-and-roll action. Bertans only really contributes as a scorer, prepared to go into the trees off a screen with a decent change of speed but struggling against size while in there, and even more prepared to pull up for a jumper or catch and shoot from long range, whilst taking a few more than he should in the process. It might translate to the NBA if he was bigger, but it’s not going to at a grounded 6’4.
Daniel Coursey – Coursey is the type of summer league discovery that makes you glad you take notes on absolutely everybody you watch, even when that somebody is just a 10ppg power forward from Mercer. Mind you, there weren’t many of them. Here they are quoted verbatim.
Very good shot-blocker, team’s only one. Good rebounder. Efficient, no range. Lefty. Not powerful. Finisher. Lefty hook out of the post but not much from down there. Great timing from the help side. Very lefty. Bites on perimeter fakes.
Colton Iverson – The Celtics’ draft pick from last season, Iverson turned down a training camp invite to go to Turkey with Besiktas, to continue the strong legacy of Iversons with that team. In 29 games of Turkish league play, he averaged 6.2 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.3 fouls in 14.9 minutes per game, shooting 51% from the field and 49% from the line. Iverson is in to fulfil a role – offensive rebound, putbacks, finish around the rim and push everybody around. It’s a limited if useful role, but without being much of a rim protector and with very limited scoring talent and range, it’s likely not an NBA one.
Edwin Jackson – Long since on the NBA radar, Jackson went undrafted in 2011, and this is his first time in any summer league. The 6’3 French-American combo guard has become one of the best players in his domestic league, averaging 18.0 points and 2.3 assists in 32 minutes per game, and is certainly an NBA calibre scorer. He’s also an NBA calibre athlete, undersized for the shooting guard position but with long arms and good speed, adept at finishing around the rim (and getting there) despite his size and able to shoot over everybody. The knock on Jackson has always been that he takes too many jump shots, and he still does – he is a good not great shooter who could see a spike in his percentages once he realises an improvement in his shot selection. Nevertheless, the guy really knows how to score, in a Leandro Barbosa type of way. It’s a translatable skill, easily, and he has a chance at the NBA.
Chris Johnson – Johnson is also signed through 2017 and being taught to become the next Keith Bogans. Corner threes, catch and shoots, decent if slightly overstated man to man perimeter defence, and the like. He misses quite a lot of open shots from the corner and the wing so it’s going swimmingly so far.
Mike Moser – Moser is a fairly quirky player who apparently has decided that he wants to be a three point shooter. Historically, he has not been good at this, but an uptick as a senior to 37.8% at least justifies it a bit. now. Not strong or wide, the 6’8 Moser is not built to play the traditional power forward spot at a professional level that he has done so much at the collegiate level, but he nonetheless is a good rebounder with a motor and some athleticism.
What Moser could be is a face-up four in a small forward’s body. He likes to get out in transition and is a good athletic finisher, who finishes looks on offence rather than creates them. He catches and shoots despite his flat footed release, he finishes around the basket, and he gets a few off of putbacks. Moser’s shot selection is not the best, especially with the jump shot he continues to adore, but he can put the ball on the floor against flat footed opponents (especially after up-faking a closing-out defender), utilises a spin move, can pass off the drive, and somewhat makes up for poor defensive effort with his nose for the ball.
All of which is going to make him a solid Israeli league player.
Devin Oliver – As a senior, Oliver averaged a solid but unremarkable 11.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game, but certainly enjoyed the benefits and was a big part of Dayton’s tournament run. He has spent the last couple of years adapting his versatile game to being more perimeter centric, as that is what his 6’6, 225lbs frame is catered for. He has added a catch and shoot three, which is much improved and which should translate, even though he barely jumps on it. He is still not the best ball handler, at all, especially with the right hand, but he can straight line drive it and cut to the rim off the ball. And while his perimeter defence is a bit unproven given the amount of time he spent defending the paint, he ought be fast enough to keep up there. If the versatile and high IQ Oliver can become more of a full time perimeter player, then his strong post-up offensive game becomes a big mismatch weapon.
Kelly Olynyk – Save for the fouls and turnovers, Olynyk had a decent rookie season. He rebounded, played his high IQ game, shared the ball, and scored if not entirely efficiently on offence. He might not be fast enough to play the stretch four spot, and although he has bulked up, maybe he’s never going to be big enough to play the five spot. Projecting a position for him defensively isn’t easy. But he’s plenty solid enough.
Phil Pressey – Pressey is an excellent passer out of the pick-and-roll. Very excellent. And his overall floor game continues to develop – an assist to turnover ratio of nearly three to one is good from anyone and very much so from an overmatched rookie. But overmatched is the big word there. The small Pressey just looked like he couldn’t make a shot at the NBA level, even though he continues to try, a great passer and terrible scorer who still tries to score. He still takes ones he can’t make, and while it is understood he needs defences to respect the jump shot so as to be able to penetrate them, he can’t shoot and it hurts the team when he tries. With two other non-shooting point guards in the fold next year, Pressey’s position and his unguaranteed contract are under threat. Best get them shots up in practice.
Marcus Smart – Smart can’t shoot, that much we know. He’s not a half court point guard, either, not even especially close to what John Wall was at this age, back when John Wall wasn’t much of a half court point guard either. As much as he attacks, throws himself to the rim and gets to the line, he also drives into trouble without knowing why at times, looks to score before he looks to pass, and seems to not have the best offensive IQ. Smart’s physical stature allows for some slightly quirky usage as a point guard, not just driving around screens but also setting them, which might be fun to see with Olynyk down the road, but at this point his passing vision, consistency and understandings of time and score all need a lot of work, work that comes through experience. He seemed to struggle much more against better quality competition, which doesn’t bode well, and was pretty inconsistent. The biggest thing Smart could do to help himself is to stop taking overconfident jump shots early in the clock, many of which would be bad shots even for good shooters, which he certainly is not. Maybe he learns, maybe he doesn’t. His offensive skill set in the half court is a legitimate concern and needs a lot ot work.
However, ignore that for the moment. Look at the defensive play. Smart has greater size, greater athleticism, terrific lateral quickness and a high motor. He should dominate the point guard position on defence. Smart is disruptive, persistent and energetic, an absolute harasser on that end. He is strong, he is fast, and he gets to the spot before the defender. Smart takes charges, flops egregiously (which is sort of a virtue, however noxious), and has chase-down blocks in a way that no other point guard really does. He is not ready made on this end, and will probably make some rookie mistakes with fouls and missed rotations in the early days. But he is so, so projectable on that end.
There’s a long way to go on offence. But just being as athletic as he is will be half the battle won.
James Young – Young came into his freshman with a great reputation, one partly born out of his supposed offensive instincts. But they weren’t on show. Players with offensive instincts should not look as lost and motionless as he did when off the ball. They should move, cut, get open, and not just stand there. Players with offensive instincts should not jump to pass several times a game like Young did. Players with offensive instincts shouldn’t drive into traffic relentlessly without knowing why they are doing it, without it being the percentage play, without there being any real chance of getting to the rim or drawing a foul because the defender got into position about half an hour before the drive even started. But Young did all these things all year young, showing only slight improvement by the year’s end. His fundamentals were weak, his IQ low, his passing vision and decision making poor. He rarely used screens or fakes, threw it away so often, and his shot creating abilities involved either the aforementioned drives to nowhere or just raising up and shooting.
Mind you, he’s been drafted low enough to get away with it. Because the potential is there. Young is a big wing with fluid mobility and an extra gear at times, who could be an excellent shooter and an excellent defender. The jump shot form is decent enough, and the results mostly good – if he hones it further, improves his consistency, improves his selection and learns how to create better looks like fakes, jab steps and the like, he could be one of the league’s better shooters. And with his size and quick release, it will be tough to block. Young is confident, we’ll give him that, and is no shrinking violet which will help his shooting prowess. His handle is sloppy and he ought never be expected to be a regular slasher to the rim, but if he can better recognises what is already a decent pull-up jump shot, that will give him some effectiveness inside the arc too. He can run the court and finish at the rim, which would suffice as an offensive package were he never to develop much of a slashing game or learn how effective dive cuts can be. The same package is true of his defensive projection, where his size, long arms and mobility bode well, although he needs to plug in all the time and want to attack the glass. He is of course young and in a situation where he can develop, so there’s plenty of scope for improvement, and plenty of reason to expect it.
But, meh. Long way to go. Long long way to go.