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Tuesday, 15 July 2014 16:04

Takeaways from the Celtics' Summer League Trip

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As most teams are still getting a look at their new personnel in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Boston Celtics already found some of the answers they were looking for.

As most teams are still getting a look at their new personnel in the Las Vegas Summer League, the Boston Celtics already found some of the answers they were looking for.

The C’s wrapped up their stint at the Orlando Summer League last week, finishing with a record of 3-2. But summer league is not about wins and losses; it’s about developing assets while getting a look at the young talents attempting to break into the league.

At a crucial time for them, the Celtics were able to begin to do just that – develop their assets. Fans’ off-season dreams have been for Danny Ainge to acquire Kevin Love, yet Ainge has continued to move in the other direction – taking on Marcus Thornton’s expiring contract in order to add Tyler Zeller and another first-round pick.

The deeper Ainge digs his roster into rebuilding mode, the more likely it is that he will continue that route. Which means for the first time in several years, the summer league provided a real look at what could be the Celtics’ future.

So here is what we found out:

Marcus Smart is very talented, still has a lot of work to do

Smart can be one of the most versatile players in the league, but it won’t matter unless he develops a jump shot. Smart averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 2.0 steals in Orlando, but his ball-hawking defense was his most impressive attribute.  

On the downside, Smart shot 20-for-68 from the field (only 29 percent). Even worse, he was 9-for-35 from downtown (a mere 25.9 percent). 3-pointers are an area that Smart should be, and is, working on. However, when more than half of his shots are coming from beyond the arc, it’s a cause for concern – that is far from Smart’s strength.

The immediate way to fix the problem seems like it begins with Smart improving his shot selection. He is much more effective in and around the paint, and should look to make that a bigger aspect of his game. He is fantastic at drawing contact and finishing around the rim, but Smart also is a good free throw shooter. He shot 25-for-30 from the line in summer league, which also suggests Smart’s jump shot is not broken, but needs to be polished.

Kelly Olynyk bulked up, had another strong summer performance

Olynyk only played in four of Boston’s five games, but he was clearly a leader. He averaged 17.5 points, 7.3 boards and 2.0 assists in Orlando, but people around the league were hoping for more. Olynyk shot 40 percent from the field (27.7 percent from 3-point range), while putting up similar numbers to his 2013 summer league performance.

Olynyk is capable of more, he showed that during the end of last season. But with that said, Olynyk was still solid and didn’t do anything that would suggest he will not move forward in his sophomore campaign.

Phil Pressey: a master floor general in need of a jump shot

Putting my fan hat on for a moment – I am a huge fan of Pressey. His feel for the game is as good as any point guard in the league; I’m not even kidding.

But hardly cracking 5-foot-11, while not being able to shoot a lick, is what kills Pressey’s ability to earn more minutes and put his stamp on NBA games. No doubt, Pressey was a great leader on the summer league squad, though. He averaged 5.4 assists, tallying 13 helpers in his final game of the week (to go with 12 points) off the bench. 

Pressey did so just one day after shooting an abysmal 1-for-15 from the field. It was nice to see him bounce back, but Pressey had a brutal shooting week overall (32.2 percent).

Pressey, along with Smart, were both expected to have the green light in summer league. I watched the two of them fire away in drills during practice in Waltham before they left for Orlando, it was clearly a focus. Summer league taught us that it needs to remain a focus.  

Mike Moser won a training camp invite

Moser was the biggest surprise on the Celtics’ summer league roster. He averaged 13.6 points and 4.8 rebounds during his five games in green, good enough to catch Ainge’s attention.

Moser closed out the week with 16 points and 10 boards against the Pacers, showing his versatility on both ends of the floor. That may have been the kicker that earned Moser an invite to Celtics training camp, but Moser is unsure if he will attend.

After Boston’s latest trade, it now has 17 players under contract.  There are all sorts of ways that Ainge could shed contracts before training camp rolls around, but if the roster holds as is, it would be tough for Moser to crack the 15-man roster.

If he is unable to find a better opportunity, though, expect to see Moser wearing green when the team holds training camp in Newport this October.


Follow Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow

Julian Edlow

Julian Edlow covers the Boston Red Sox, theBoston Celtics and the NBA for CLNS Radio. He also does so for WEEI.com and CelticsLife.com

Previous experience in radio includes an internship with 1510 The Zone in Quincy, where Julian was a producer, as well as the voice of "This day in Red Sox' history."

Julian graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2010 with a degree in Communication. 

You can contact Julian Edlow on Twitter @julianedlow.