I'm very excited to watch basketball again today. I know it hasn't been that long since the season ended, but I'm ready to move on and watch the Celtics Summer League entry and ready to start on our march to Banner 18 in 2011. It's also a nice break from all the Lebronapalooza that's going on, which I find totally ridiculous. Speaking of ridiculous, anything you want to know about the various SL teams and players you can find out over on Ridiculous Upside.
There are several players on the Celtics SL roster who are going to be playing for teams in the Vegas Summer League also. The list includes DeShawn Sims, Jaycee Carroll, Ryan Wittman, Ryan Thompson, and Matt Janning. There is also an interesting conflict in that Matt Janning is also listed on the Oklahoma City roster in Orlando. Since he is on both rosters, we may or may not see him on the Celtics.
Several former Celtics are on various Summer League squads. Gerald Green, after spending a year overseas is back trying to make an NBA roster by playing on the LA Lakers SL team. I always liked Gerald and he has all kinds of potential but just never could seem to get it. Patrick O'Bryant is playing for the Minnesota Timberwolves. Marcus Landry, who came over from from the Knicks in the Nate Robinson deal and then was waived is playing for both the Pacers in Orlando and the Knicks in Vegas. Michael Sweetney, who played for the Celtics last summer will be playing for the Wizards this year. Former Celtic Gabe Pruitt will be playing for the Nets entry. Another former Celtic, JR Giddens, will be playing for the Mavs this summer. Apparently, the Knicks aren't interested in bringing him back, even though they have plans to keep Bill Walker. And Darius Miles, whose comeback with the Celtics fell short last season, but not before costing the Blazers big bucks, will be playing for the Bobcats.
I think the player I am most looking forward to seeing is Vyacheslav Kravstov, the big center from the Ukraine. Eurobasket has this little blurb about him that totally caught my attention:
"A tough inside operator, who plays very hard and can bang with any opponent. Needs to improve some of his technical skills, but doesn't need to learn how to fight."
This guy sounds like my kind of center. He has played for BC Kyiv in Ukraine since 2005 and his game has improved with each season. This past season, the he averaged 14.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and a league-leading 2.7 blocks per game while shooting 70.4% from the field. The guy is very strong and can bang with anyone. He is a good rebounder and has a great attitude. He isn't the most polished offensive player but that will come and if it doesn't, the Celtics have plenty of offense but very much needs a guy who can rebound and block shots. And did I mention that no one needs to teach him how to fight? Yep, my kind of player. He is one of the best Euro prospects and may be a keeper. I'm really looking forward to watching this kid play. Here is the only clip I could find of him and it is an impressive block in the Bill Russell mold.
The Celtics have apparently signed former second round draft pick Semih Erden for this upcoming season. Erden seems to have a lot of potential, is athletic and has some skills. But, the knock on Erden has been his mental lapses and lack of intensity. I have always preferred the player with intensity, work ethic and motivation and maybe not quite as athletic because desire and work and intensity can overcome a lot of what is missing athletically. Just look at Larry Bird. He was slow, couldn't jump, and by all accounts, not very physically gifted. He wasn't a great athlete. But, his intensity, desire, and work ethic overcame all that to make him one of the greatest players ever. And then you look at a player like Patrick O'Bryant or Michael Olowokandi or Gerald Green, all of whom have great physical and athletic gifts. But without the work ethic and motivation, they just have not succeeded. So when I see Erden's intensity and concentration questioned, big red flags go up. I'd rather the big Russian center who knows how to fight and has the intensity and work ethic to back it up.
I've been hearing good things about Oliver Lafayette and Luke Harangody from the Celtics practices. Both Danny and Austin Ainge have been impressed with them both. I'm very interested in watching Lafayette and Gaffney play. Danny felt enough about these guys to lock them up the end of the season so he would have them for summer league and both appear to have what it takes to make the roster. I also can't wait to watch the 3 7 footers on the roster: Erden, Kravstov, and Parakhouski. I think one of the two, Kravstov or Parakhouski has a chance to make the roster. From what I have read about them, I like those two more than Erden. Again it goes back to attitude and mentality. I'll always go with the guy who works harder and has a tough basketball mentality than one who lacks concentration and motivation.
I'm ready for Summer League games to start! The only bad thing is that after Summer League there is that LOOOOONNNG time until training camp starts without any basketball. The free agent frenzy will calm down this month and then there is a long wait for any more basketball. But I'm going to enjoy watching the games. This season they are being broadcast live on NBA-TV along with being streamed online with a Summer League Pass Broadband which is much better than the online streaming from last year. My eyes and ears still hurt from trying to follow the bounding camera and listening to those two guys. I'm excited. How about you?
Here's the schedule in case you missed it:
July 5: Oklahoma City Thunder, 5 p.m.
July 6: Philadelphia 76ers, 1 p.m.
July 7: Charlotte Bobcats, 1 p.m.
July 8: Indiana Pacers, 3 p.m.
July 9: New Jersey Nets, noon