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Celtics Open Summer League with a Win! Celtics 73, Thunder 65


Box Score

More important than the win, Celtics fans got their first look at the C’s three 2012 NBA Draft picks Fab Melo, Jared Sullinger, and Kris Joseph.  Like all summer league games, there was some high points, some low points, and some really ugly moments and we’ll highlight those with some video later on.  For now, it’s good to keep in mind that impressions shouldn’t remain to concrete after summer league games; especially after just one summer league game.

For now, we’ll recap today’s contest with some interesting/unconventional categories:


Jared Sullinger.  Sullinger’s professional career began admirably as the rookie power forward finished 20 points and 6 rebounds.  Sully showed polish around the basket and a smooth shooting stroke from the midrange en route to those 20 points.  Unfortunately, he also seems ready to prove to people that his range extends well out past the three point line.  He didn’t do himself any favors by air-balling two attempts and rattling in a wide open one.  We’ll see how that aspect of his game goes as these next two weeks continue.

I would have liked to see Sullinger impose his will on the glass but he appears poised and I was hoping to see more lateral quickness on defending the pick and roll.  He looks a bit overweight and his help defense leaves much to be desired.  Here’s hoping these issues can be corrected/improved by mid season.

Kris Joseph.  Joseph could have been the most complete player on the floor for the C’s.  He shot the ball well.  He drove hard and finished well.  He even showed some aggression, crashing the glass from the wing.  He had some turnovers (3) and didn’t show he can pass the ball but he looks the part of a solid role player off the bench.  Keep in mind that Joseph won’t be asked to create offense for others if he makes this Celtics team.

Dionte Christmas.  Christmas quietly had a really good game.  It looks like he’s really bulked up since his playing days at Temple.  So much so, I was afraid he was actually a little fat but his play today didn’t seem to support that at all.  I knew he could stroke it from three, but he also quietly pulled down 10 boards.  I want to see if his attention to the glass continues this week.

E’Twaun Moore.  I was really hoping the Moore would be the first of second best player on the court.  He played some meaningful minutes early on last season and I thought maybe that NBA experience would have translated into some Summer League dominance.  Alas, Moore failed to really assert himself until the final minute when he started to score in the course of running out the clock.  I was a little disappointed that he wasn’t able to create like a true point guard and am anxious to see if that improves at all as the week continues.

JaJuan Johnson.  He rebounded and defended okay and showed that he’s able to make a jumper but three points for last year’s first rounder isn’t enough.

Craig Brackins.  Brackins fascinates me as a former first round pick that was supposed to be long, athletic, polished, and productive but has proven to be the opposite in the pros.  I’m dying to see him do something that made him a first round pick a few years ago.


Sean Williams.  When Williams joined the Celtics late last season, he was touted has having a high basketball IQ.  I was shocked when I heard this because after watching him at Boston College and then the pros, I’ve only seen him do stupid things on and off the court.  His energy and athleticism have never been in question but today he shot a three and missed terribly.  I’ll always have a soft spot for Big Time, but it’s time I’d rather see what Brackins has to offer.

Jamar Smith.  As expected, Smith has a nice outside shot but offers little else to the Celtics.

Larry Owens.  I expected more from a guy who’s spent some time in the league.

Jonathan Gibson.  Who?


Fab Melo.  Outside of a pretty impressive weakside recovery block, Melo showed little to nothing today.  In fact, I have serious doubts about his man defense.  Early on in the first half, Perry Jones III went right into Melo’s chest and finished through contact.  I wanted to see a little more from a guy touted for his defense and shot-blocking ability.

  • Phil

    Good call on Joseph, he was probably the one guy aside from Sullinger who really stood out positively for the Celtics. Interested to see more of him going forward. Kind of a bad sign that I thought both of last year's picks got outplayed by this year's picks at the same spot, but it is only one game.

    As far as Melo over PJ3, maybe we get lucky and PJ3 doesn't amount to anything. Because that's the only way it doesn't end up being a bad pick.

    • lakershater13

      You view Melo as a big slow center. I see him more of a Deandre Jordan/ Ibaka type player. He is athletic and played soccer before basketball so he has decent foot work. He hasnt been playing basketball long and this is something that could be good because the Cs can mold him with out many bad habits. I see Perry Jones as more of a Jonathan Bender type player. Maybe Perry pans out but after watching him he is definitely a project. If your going to take a project then your better off taking Melo especially with the potential knee issues with Perry. Athletic guys with bad knees dont usually pan out.

      • Phil

        I'm definitely judging Melo before I've seen him enough, but the comparisons that I read across the draft preview stuff was pretty consistent on Melo's comparisons. Joel Pryzbilla and Brandon Haywood were the two main ones, with Thabeet and Perk thrown in for foreign guy and Celtic tie reasons. None of those guys are anything like Ibaka, and I haven't heard about Melo having anything close to that type of athleticism. Ibaka is probably just short of Lebron as far as freak athletes go.

        Melo's ceiling is certainly up for debate, but I don't see how Jones couldn't be higher, even if he might not be likely to reach it. His combination of size and athleticism don't come around every year, and hardly ever in the mid twenties. You can find paint bound seven footers on the scrap heap every year, so the hope is that Melo turns into more of that, I just don't see it.

        I also think you're overstating Jones' knee injury a little. I didn't hear anything about it being potentially career threatening.

        • lakershater13

          No question Jones has a higher upside but with Green, Pierce at SF and Bass, Sully at PF they took Melo more for need then for upside. I think Sully was less risk than Jones and Melo was more needed once they took a PF.

          • Phil

            Well that kind of bleeds into my other complaint about the offseason, and that's the insane contract they gave Green. I'll take a raw with potential PJ3 at 1.5m or so over a maxed out Jeff Green at 9m for four years. You want more risk, it doesn't get worse than tying up half your cap space in a seventh man.

            Also, I really don't see PJ3 sticking at PF, he looks like a 3 to me. Green's kind of the same way, people pretend he can play the four when he really can't.

            Again, I agree that Melo is less risk than Jones, but reward is important too. I thought Sullinger was safe if the back checked out, so they could roll the dice on the high risk high reward guy of the draft after taking him. I just don't know where they're going with the team now.

          • lakershater13

            I mean thats one way to look at it. Green and Jones had similar stats in college. Green had better defensive stats. Green has already proven he can contribute in the NBA and has already bulked up enough for the NBA game.
            So you would rather have Jones with his potential knee problems then Green and Melo?

          • kg215

            Green has proven that he is an NBA player, but not that he is good in the NBA. Perry Jones has more upside than Jeff Green did coming out, and we wouldn't have had to pay him 9 million a year for 4 years. Also we could have got a guy with more talent at the 22nd pick than a guy who was the 5th pick, instead we picked more for need. Other teams passed him up too, but usually Danny isn't afraid of things like that. Maybe it was his love affair with Jeff Green that prevented him from taking PJ3.

  • lakershater13

    Sully- Impressed me more than I thought he would. The guy can step out and shoot which is huge. His post game alone would not be good enough at the NBA level. Showing how he can step out and knock down shots will be huge for his development. The one thing he needs to do is get in shape. He gets in shape and he could be scary. He talked after the game talking about how he has hired a chef and is working on losing weight. I saw a lot I liked.
    Melo- He his a jumper from the outside. Besides that his offense was very suspect. His rebounding also needs work but a lot of that might be due to the fact he played a lot of zone. His overall defense I thought was great. Only blocked 2 shots but I felt like he altered a few as well. He is certainly a project but Cs have KG who can help mold him.
    Joseph- Very impressed. He seems like he can be a true professional in the NBA. I think they drafted an NBA ready player who could be a solid role player over the next few years. With Pierce and Green he may not get time. If Pietrus comes back he may not make the roster.
    Moore- He scored 16 and was good in the clutch but overall it wasnt very impressive. He forced a lot and didnt look to create for other people.
    JJJ- Didnt assert himself at all. Needs to be more agressive on offense. Got guys in the air a couple times with fakes but settled for step back jumpers. Needs to try to get to the rim with his quickness. Not bad rebounding.
    Williams- Mental mistakes…enough said.
    Everyone else- A couple good games by Christmas and Smith but realistically I dont think these guys have a shot at the Celtics roster.

    Perry Jones- I was disappointed when the Cs passed on him to take Sully. I dont view it as Melo over Perry because Cs needed a center. While I dont think Sully has a high upside after watching today Im not sure I like Perry Jones all that much. The guy is big and has some serious skill. At times during the game he just didnt seem interested. When the ball was loose on the floor Jones watched it roll out of bounds. No dive what so ever. He may end up being a great player but after watching today I am fine with Sully and Melo over Perry. Im not sure Perrys heart is in it.

    On another note- John Stockton has a son and is on the Utah summer league team…How was this not big news?

    • kg215

      Did not know about Stockton's son, but if you look at history the children of great players generally aren't very good. Michael Jordan's kids are a good example. Patrick Ewing Jr. is another. Seems like the kids of Journeymen players have a better chance at being good in the NBA, pretty good but nonstar players too I guess (Austin Rivers).

  • john in sd

    Thanks for the quick Summer League update! I was watching the box score on nba.com here at work as if it was a regular season game…ha

    I too wish the C’s drafted PJlll but with a lack of a “true” C DA seemed as if he drafted need over talent. I’m sure the drafting 2 players with questionable health on and old team was too much risk…but isn’t it worth the risk at 21 and 22?

    Melo is def going to be a long term project. He’s still learning the freaking game! His big body helped somewhat in college. It now he’s playing against world class athletes here?! Melo right now is a GTP (garbage time player).

  • lakershater13

    What everyone needs to remember with Melo over Jones is that Jones would not be guarding 5s. With Miami and OKC in the finals last year everyone is thinking they need more athleticism and less size. If you look the Cs will need centers. Having a shot blocking center will make Miami into a more jump shooting team. Lebron and Wade got to the hoop way too much in the ECFs. Also the Lakers with Nash could be a factor this year. The Nets are about to land Howard in a 4 team deal. Last year the Cs put KG on Howard but Howards supporting cast kind of stunk in Orlando. The Cs will need a guy like Melo to come in just for defense on Howard, Bynum, and Hibbert.

    • kg215

      The question is can Fab develop quick enough to be useful against said Heat next year or the year after? 3 years from now KG and Pierce will be gone or play very little compared to now. Normally you let a guy like Fab develop for a couple years but we drafted him for need, IE for playing right now. If we were going to give a guy a couple years to develop PJ3 had way more upside.

  • High Rollers

    My guess is that Melo will take to whatever defensive system he’s plugged into. Pretty soon it’s going to be the legendary KG system (nod to Thibs, wherever you are). Wouldn’t be surprised if it takes more than a pre-KG Summer League tilt to adjust.

  • High Rollers

    Lakershater could be right, but is he big enough right now for those guys? I guess it doesn’t matter too much as long as he’s able to disrupt things a little.

  • skeeds

    I'm very, very optimistic about Sullinger.
    His in-between C and PF physique means he is a constant mismatch. Luckily, his post up and face up game are equally good, (and VERY good at that). Which means he has the ability to take advantage of any kind of situation. Like Baby he'll have no problem bulldozing over any skinny 4's, and unlike him, he has the speed and technique to overcome slower, bigger guys. Look at that running jump-hook to be a go to move.

    I am a firm believer that you can't teach a big guy soft touch and good hands. They either have them or they don't. Sullinger has that smoothness in his game that'll make him into a legitimate starter.

    • zach

      I don't know, I worry that he scored in a way that won't work against NBA defenses; he really has no lift and did not get to rebounds well. But if he can drop 20 lbs he may be able to get more athletics, in which case look out!

      • kg215

        He is taller and stronger than Big Baby. Not sure his feet are as quick (Big Baby has some quick feet for a huge guy) but he is much smarter and uses his strength to pin people as well as use angles to score on tall guys. Big Baby was never smart and offense, that is why he got blocked so many times at the rim he just tried to lay it up over and over and tall players just swatted it all day.

        • zach

          not sure he dribble drives as well as baby (at his best). Reminds me more of Leon Powe – undersized post guy and spot up shooter

  • nick

    I was really impressed with Melo. He came over on help D on one play and blocked Jones. From that play on I never saw Jones go into the paint. He was protecting the paint and he moves very well for a 7 footer. He isn't a freak athlete like Jordan but from what I saw he isn't far behind. He was going out to the three point line and getting back to basket to help defend and rebound. To me Melo outplayed Johnson by a very wide margin. I would say Melo could play 10 minutes a night as a rookie. Johnson looked like a total bust, he plays much smaller then he is. It seems his only offense is shooting a long two, ala KG, but they weren't going in. On D it seemed he was below average to average at best. Didn't look like the great defender he was in college.

  • GreenM&M

    What's up with JJ? He got the start over Sully but didn't take advantage of the opportunity. I though he could be able to get in the rotation this year. But he's still a project, perhaps more so than either Sullinger or Melo at this point.

    Well at least we didn't invest in Cole Aldrich. I bet Presti was speed dialing Nazr Mohammed's agent this afternoon. LOL

  • Scott88

    Im here to tell this fool Jackson who Jonathan Gibson is. He was a three year starter at new Mexico state university and the leading scorer in the tbl this past year. Although his first game in the summer league was far below his standards, you will be seeing a lot more of him. He is by far the quickest player on the floor and his ability to create plays for others and himself is outstanding. So before you start making your wise remarks, do a little research, watch a little tape, and then you’ll know who he is.

    • OKCeltic

      As an NMSU grad, I hope Gibson makes a good impression. It's unlikely he'll make the team, but he would be a good candidate to stash away in the D-League. He can play.

    • GowGow

      Calm down. Previous achievements mean nothing if you can't step up when it really matters.

  • Rolltide3332

    Am I missing something. Did Stephane Lasme play today? If so how did he do. He was a beast last year!

  • john42_98

    one thing i did see everytime moore got the ball he shot it i dont think he passed it off one time , you think him playing point guard he think of passing for and assit????

  • Ben

    I want to believe in Melo, and I want him to be good, but I just don't see it. He looks like Ryan Hollins from what I've seen. I would rather have Perry Jones (who performed quite well today considering he is supposed to have a terrible knee injury that is going to keep him out, thought that's why teams were scared off from him?), because he's an inch shorter than melo (6'11"), but is twice as athletic. He looks like a less talented version of Kevin Durant. If he stays healthy and picks up some moves from KD, watch out.

    With regards to Melo, if we wanted a 7 foot stiff, why didn't we just resign Hollins or make an offer to a guy like Kwame Brown or even Olowkandi. Olowkandi actually seems like the closest likely NBA Comparison considering the guy didn't start playing till he was 18 either. I hope I'm wrong but time will tell.

  • zach

    I don't get the negativity about Melo – you can't teach that kind of size, strength, and bounce. He blocked altered several shots and in the process showed great timing and explosiveness; those would have been blocks in a real NBA game. Conversely, I hate to say this but I don't know if Sully's baskets would have been baskets against real NBA players. I hope he proves me wrong but Sully's upside may be Leon Powe. Melo, just based on his size and athleticism, has more potential

  • CG12

    Melo showed that he moves quite well for a guy his size, hence the attraction, but he also has a loooong way to go as a basketball player. "Project" is certainly the word.

    Sullinger knows how to play, but he needs to get in NBA shape. He is never going to be an above the rim player, but there is certainly a place out there for a PF who knows how to use his body. Sullinger's upper body especially needs work. He has narrow shoulders and doesn't look very strong. But, in his favor, he has a huge ass, great for a power forward.

    Joseph looked very good. I also thought that Dionte Christmas looked good, doing a little of everything. Jamar Smith looked pretty good at the point.

    JJJ looked borderline terrible. He needs to figure out what his one NBA-ready skill is, and just go with that. Beyond the occasional elbow jumper (and he misses a lot of them) and weak-side block, he seems to bring very little the table. Moore is what he is. A heady, confident player, with some combo guard skills, but not enough explosiveness or size to be a difference maker. He will never be better than a 4th or 5th guard.

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