Boston Celtics 2022 NBA Summer League wrap-up

Boston Celtics guard Juhann Begarin (45) Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics guard Juhann Begarin (45) Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports /

Just as it did in June, another Boston Celtics season has ended without a championship. With a shot at advancing to the NBA Summer League playoffs, the Celtics fell short to the Brooklyn Nets, 102-95.

Winning a Summer League championship with fancy rings for the players would had been nice, but that wasn’t the goal for the franchise. The bigger picture is getting a good look at players to gauge their abilities, create plans to develop these players, and maybe even find players that can help the team now.

Several guys from Boston’s squad had moments during this five game series of scrimmages. Some we know where their future is taking them. Others might have earned a longer look. And it’s possible the Celtics are enamored with a couple of players from other teams. For now, I’ll focus on several players on the Celtics squad who stood out and rate their prospects of sticking with the organization. They’re named in order below

Players on the Boston Celtics Summer League squad that stood out

Sam Hauser

Entering Summer League, Sam Hauser basically had nothing to prove. He signed a three-year deal with the Celtics, ensuring a roster spot heading into the 2022-23 season. Summer League was just to get a little run in for him.

Due to a shoulder injury, Hauser played in just two games. The Summer League opener was disappointing (2-12 from the floor, 1-9 from three, seven points), but he was able to bounc back in the second game (4-9 from the floor, 3-7 from three, 12 points).

Boston already knows what they need to know about Hauser. His injury became an opportunity for the Celtics to take longer looks at other players. They played it safe with Hauser. They’ll save him for training camp. That’s when playing in exhibitions and practice will determine if Hauser can find his way into the rotation.

Mfiondu Kabengele

Mfiondu Kabengele’s previous experience in the NBA and G League made it easy to project he would stand out during the Summer League action. Kabengele was so good, he earned a two-way contract with the Boston Celtics. Honestly, it should be a full NBA contract.

The former first round pick out of Florida State showed he is ready to contribute now as he averaged 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.2 blocks and shot 40 percent from deep. A lot of those points came off of from lobs from JD Davison as they toyed with defenses on pick-and-rolls.

Boston still wants to sign a veteran big man to the roster. Maybe Kabengele is the fourth big at this point. That may not last the season. Kabengele already proved he can thrive in the G League. Before the 2022-23 season ends, Kabengele should lock in a place in the rotation.

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JD Davison

JD Davison got off to a sloppy start, but he arguably had the best performance of any Celtic in game four when he dropped 28 points and 10 assists. It included connecting on 4-of-6 three pointers, three thefts, and a block. If that’s the idea of Davison’s potential, then Boston might have found a steal with the 53rd overall pick of the 2022 NBA Draft.

Davison is still raw, though. While he shot an excellent 46.7 percent from distance, he needs to work on his consistency. He blew several lay-ups through the first three games before developing his touch at the rim. And he averaged three turnovers while playing about 30 minutes per game.

On the plus side, he led all Summer League players in assists with 8.2 per game. There might be a real good point guard in Davison that needs a little polishing. That’s why Boston signed him to a two-way deal. He’ll get playing time with the Maine Celtics to smooth out his game. If he develops quicker than expected, he could earn some rail rewards between Portland and Boston.

Matt Ryan

What is it, unlucky to be a pro athlete named Matt Ryan? The basketball one out of Tennessee-Chattanooga came out blazing in the first two games, shooting 4-8 on threes in game one, then 7-12 overall, 6-11 on threes, including a dramatic running game-winner against the Bucks in the second contest. Unfortunately Ryan injured his ankle on the play, prematurely ending his Summer League.

Judging Ryan on what he showed, how could the Boston Celtics not take a longer look at him? It won’t cost much to see if his 52.7 percent on threes is legit. It would be disappointing if he’s not with Boston for training camp and the preseason.

If Ryan doesn’t make the cut, he should be with the Maine Celtics so Boston can keep a very close eye on him. If Ryan proves that his shooting is real, his luck will turn around quickly.

Trevion Williams

I could see Trevion Williams on the 1985-86 Celtics. The way he sees the floor and whips passes around the perimeter or to cutting teammates, he would fit in nicely with Larry Bird, Kevin McHale, Robert Parish, and Bill Walton.

That kind of passing ability from a big man is rare in today’s game. But that’s not enough for Williams to earn a roster spot. He came on late with an 11 point, 11 rebound double-double in game four and nearly repeated the feat in game five (nine points, nine rebounds). His passing and rebounding are worth developing.

I would like to see Williams put in more effort defensively. He needs to play with his feet instead of reaching frequently. Otherwise, it looks like Williams needs more time to adjust. Hopefully he signs with the Maine Celtics. If Williams’ game catches up, he would be better prepared to compete next season.

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Brodric Thomas

It’s fun rooting for an underdog, and Brodric Thomas is a good story out of Truman State. He made a great case as a floor spacer, connecting on 52.2 percent of his threes. On the strength of his shooting, Thomas averaged 13.3 points per game.

You can’t have enough shooting, but it’s hard imagining Thomas playing a significant role on the Boston Celtics with the current depth chart. The Celtics protected Thomas with a qualifying offer, but Boston can easily withdraw it.

Even with three roster spots available, it’s hard envisioning Thomas securing one. He might be destined for Maine, at best.

Juhann Begarin

Juhann Begarin has a real knack for when and how to cut. His movement without the ball leads to a lot of easy buckets at the rim. That kind of feel is lacking in the NBA right now.

Unfortunately for Begarin, shooting is today’s desired skill, and this flying Frenchman still hasn’t developed a consistent shot. Despite leading the Boston Celtics in scoring with 18.2 per game, he shot just 42.7 percent per game, including 33.3 percent from deep. That’s not gonna cut it. He also averaged a concerning 4.2 turnovers.

Begarin took a quantum leap from last year’s Summer League. His potential really came out this year, but he needs more seasoning. It’s not an indictment. He’s only 19 years old. It would be best to go back to overseas and log another year of experience. If Begarin continues to make strides, his next flight to Boston will be one-way.

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Justin Jackson

Jackson is knocking on the door to the league, hoping to find a home somewhere. For two games, he made quite the case to convince Boston. In game three he shot 5-10 from deep as he led the Boston Celtics to a 103-92 win. He followed that up with 16 points in a win over the Grizzlies.

But he couldn’t stay consistent. Jackson shot just 40.4 percent from the floor and 30.6 percent from beyond the arc.

Boston signed Jackson to a 10-day contract last year. That might be the best case scenario for the former NCAA champion and first round pick. After this Summer League performance, Jackson might have to knock on a few more doors.