The Celtics wrapped summer league play Friday with a 95-86 loss to the Indiana Pacers. The Celtics finished summer league with a record of 3-2, but if you think even Brad Stevens cares about that you’ve got your head buried too deeply in the trucked-in Orlando sand.
What Stevens and Danny Ainge and the rest of the Celtics care about is the development of the players who appeared in Orlando this week. I can tell you that Kelly Olynyk led the team in both scoring (17.5 points) and rebounds (7.3), but you could have guessed that yourself. Here are five less obvious (hopefully) observations from this week’s games.
1. Phil Pressey was the best point guard: The Celtics started Marcus Smart at the point in Friday’s game, but make no mistake, Pressey ran the show for the Celtics. Pressey led the team with 5.4 assists per game, including an impressive 13 assists vs. Indiana Friday. Boston is going to use Smart at the point at times this season, but I think the transition will take some time. Smart seems more comfortable playing off the ball, whereas Pressey fits the mold of a Rajon Rondo as someone who runs the team with the ball in his hands.
2. Marcus Smart shows brilliant flashes: That’s not to say that Smart was a dud. The No. 6 overall pick had more pressure on him than any other Celtics player, which may have contributed to his poor shooting (20 of 68 from the field in five games). I’m not worried about the shooting yet, so long as the ball-handling and decision-making are good.
Where Smart stands out is his motor. On one play vs. Indiana today, Smart ran back from halfcourt to poke the ball away near Indiana’s basket. He picked it up, then raced the other way, beating defenders down the floor before finding Mike Moser with a bounce pass for a layup. Smart’s defensive energy and what he does with it can be infectious.
3. Mike Moser will get a shot. Big man Mike Moser played well enough this week to earn an invite to Celtics training camp, according to CSNNE:
Mike Moser had a breakout week w/the #Celtics summer league team, good enough to get an invite to the team’s training camp this fall.
— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) July 11, 2014
Moser started the last three games for the Celtics after Colton Iverson started the first two, averaging 13.6 points and 4.8 rebounds. He wasn’t perfect. At times the 6-foot-8-inch Moser looked like the most athletic big man on the floor. At others he failed to box out and was badly beaten by stronger players. He’s a longshot to make the roster, but I’m curious to watch him play more.
4. Colton Iverson still has a ways to go: The Celtics used the 53rd overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft to select center Iverson out of Colorado State. Iverson returned here this summer after playing in Turkey, hoping to catch on in Boston. After game 1, in which Iverson had 10 points vs. Miami, I thought OK, they could be onto something. But then I saw Iverson weaknesses shine through. Iverson lacks an offensive game, but that can be overlooked if you’re looking for a big man to set screens and defend. What concerned me the most was Iverson being caught out of position time and again on defense on dribble penetration. Iverson would come over to help, only to jump into the defender and give a bad foul. Iverson also failed to hold his own on the glass for a player of his size.
5. Kelly Olynyk plays at a wonderful offensive pace: Again we knew this already, but it’s a joy to watch Olynyk with the ball in his hands. He never rushes, and seems to have a knack for getting his defender to do something he doesn’t want to do. He has the rare ability to make things happen 10 to 15 feet away from the basket, in a zone big men don’t usually excel in.
One interesting note. Olynyk appears to have had the green light from beyond the arc in Orlando. He shot 18 3-pointers, making five of them. In Friday’s game alone he shot eight 3-pointers, which seems like an awful lot. But look for him to shoot more threes this season, because the C’s are clearly bent on him trying.