Do you smell that? That’s the smell of the elderly, fresh new basketballs, and the hope of a new season as the Boston Celtics begin their Orlando Summer League stretch today.
While Summer League is normally incredibly overrated, it doesn’t hurt to see how the young crop of talent that Danny Ainge has put together will mesh on the court. In addition, with the influx of talent from this past NBA Draft, the quality of basketball will help us forget that we are still a few months away from the NBA season.
So what’s at stake for the Celtics suiting up for the club in Orlando this week?
The Rookies: Marcus Smart will be the focal point of this summer-league team. Everyone is going to want to see if his jumper has improved and if he’ll dominate the ball or play like the Eric Bledsoe-copy he could become. We will undoubtedly see a 1-12 with six turnovers and seven fouls from Smart, but either way we will be riveted by every play the rookie makes and what it could mean for this year. James Young, the other first-round choice, isn’t sure if he will be playing due to injury. If he does, it will be critical to see how he and Smart play together when they are on the court.
The Veterans: In terms of making the roster, all the talk is about big man Colton Iverson. Will he make it with his Summer League play? I think not, but it wouldn’t hurt to have someone who at least reminds of the great Greg Stiemsma. But the man I am looking forward to seeing is Phil Pressey. My distaste for Chris Johnson is well-documented on this site and I think now is the time for Pressey to show that he is above the level of play in Orlando. Pressey will get the chance to run the group with Smart, Kelly Olynyk and others and if he plays consistently smart while knocking down his open jumpers, we may have a true backup point guard on our hands.