Summer league: Learning on the fly


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The first day of the Celtics’ summer league practice was the definition of a crash course. The players had barely introduced themselves before being overloaded with information. Terms they had never heard before were being thrown their way like fastballs. Coach Austin Ainge immediately started explaining everything from the subtle difference between the college game and the NBA to the intricacies of the Celtics offense. Mike Longabardi gave fast-paced instructions for fast-paced drills that seemed to never stop for two hours. Welcome to summer league!

With only three days to practice before the first game against Oklahoma City Monday, there’s a lot to accomplish in a short span. The team’s assets — skill and basketball IQ — make the cram session easier, Ainge said. “We have a smart group,” Ainge said. “We’re maybe not the most athletic, but we’re very skilled and we’re very smart.”

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Leo Papile, Ryan McDonough and Ainge put the team together and the group of invites is pretty diverse. There’s the Belarusian big man Art Parkahouski. There’s the resiliant DeShawn Sims. There’s Ryan Wittman, who’s NBA pedigree is well-documented. There’s also late add Matt Janning, the Northeastern standout.
Celtics president Danny Ainge said, “Our objective in the summer league is to just evaluate a lot of players and see how they play.”
The question is how do you impress in such a short amount of time?
“You impress by how hard you work, your consistency and effort,” Danny Ainge said. “You’ve got to produce to a certain degree, but for all these guys here it really starts with how hard they work. That’s how they’re going to survive. We don’t have any all-stars in this group, they’re guys that are trying to make it on the team.”
Oliver Lafayette and Tony Gaffney had a leg-up on their teammates, having spent two months with on the Celtics’ bench. But over the next week, the Celtics will get a good look at each player.
“We’re excited about quite a few of these guys,” Austin Ainge said. “They’re all fighting for a spot in our training camp or showcasing themselves for another team.”