Boston Celtics: Luka Samanic a camp signing with future in mind

Sep 26, 2022; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Luka Samanic (99) during Celtics Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 26, 2022; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Luka Samanic (99) during Celtics Media Day. Mandatory Credit: Paul Rutherford-USA TODAY Sports /

If the headline read, “Boston Celtics sign Luka,” maybe that would had been a distraction to keep some wanna-be social media sluths from slutting some women from the Celtics’ front office, trying to link the right one to coach Ime Udoka’s violations.

(There’s a name for those people that did that. It can’t be printed here.)

No, it’s not Doncic, as many would dream (myself included). But like Doncic, Luka Samanic is a former first round draft pick, so he could be untapped potential. We would have to wait for it, but the reward could be worth it.

Samanic is a floor-stretching big with a smooth, outside stroke. Like many European players, he has some all-around skills conducive to team play, is a fair athlete and could be a productive role player.

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With the news of Robert Williams’ knee surgery keeping him sidelined for 8-12 weeks, Boston needs more big man depth. Samanic probably isn’t part of the solution. He’s not a rim protector. And despite averaging a double-double in the G-League Showcase Cup, repeating that production at the next level is unlikely.

The Boston Celtics hope Luka Samanic could be a younger version of Danillo Gallinari in a year or two

With three roster spots still available, the Boston Celtics might sign a veteran big man for help right now. Samanic is here for a closer look. He needs more development, but he’s someone to watch now.

At 6-10, Samanic is a big man, but at 230 pounds, he might lack the bulk to hold his ground in the paint. Last year during the Showcase Cup, Samanic averaged 27.9 points while shooting .549 from the floor (.415 from distance), 10.6 rebounds and 3.3 assists.

But that was from a small, seven-game sample size. If he can be this productive for a longer stretch of games, if not a whole season, then Samanic won’t be in the G-League for long.

In highlights, Samanic’s stroke looks effortless and smooth. The mechanics to be a good 3-point shooter are there, but he needs to prove he can be efficient over the course of a season.

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Samanic also appears to be a confident ball handler. He can push the ball down court on fast breaks, take defenders off the dribble for layups or dump the ball off to nearby open teammates.

On the downside, Samanic was a turnover machine, averaging 4.1 per game. He’s not much of a defender (114 defensive rating), his court vision has room to grow, and he’s a very right-handed finisher at the rim. He’s rough around the edges.

If Samanic can polish his game, he can be a younger version of Danillo Gallinari. The veteran will miss the 2022-23 season after tearing his ACL playing for Italy during a FIFA World Cup qualifying game. Even if Gallinari returns next season, he only signed a two-year deal, so Boston could need a stretch big by 2024.

Samanic could be that then, and he would be a very cheap option a year or two down the road.

The Boston Celtics are doing their due diligence by signing Samanic to a training camp deal. They’ll get a close look at his game during practice and in games, but unless he has a breakthrough performance, it’s doubtful Samanic makes the roster.

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After camp is over, Samanic will go back to the G-League. He needs the playing time to fully develop his game. The Celtics will be watching to see if Samanic works out the kinks.

Boston should use all resources available to improve the team, G-League included. That’s where they found Mfiondu Kabengele. He’s ready to help the team now.

Samanic isn’t there yet. But in a year or two, he could be.