Boston Celtics: 6 Things Learned from the Summer League

Mike WalshCorrespondent IJuly 24, 2012

Boston Celtics: 6 Things Learned from the Summer League

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    The Boston Celtics made the decision to have their Summer League entrant participate in both the Orlando and Las Vegas leagues. This gave the movers and shakers an extended viewing window of their young prospects.

    It is now time to see what they learned.

    Boston's team featured two 2011 draft picks as well as the three from last month. They were accompanied by a host of other castoffs looking for a shot at the big time. As it turned out, some of those secondary players proved their worth.

    As we inch closer and closer to training camp, decisions will continue to be made as to who will get a shot at making the team this year and who has become expendable.

Jared Sullinger May Pass Expectations

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    Jared Sullinger was drafted by the Boston Celtics surrounded by more question marks than the Riddler.

    Luckily for the green team's higher-ups, he has panned out thus far.

    Albeit a small sample size, Sullinger has performed consistently and without back concern throughout the Summer League slate.

    He showed a good mix of an inside and outside offensive game and—most importantly for Boston—a willingness and ability to rebound the basketball.

    If Sullinger stays healthy, he could come away being the steal of this draft class. Getting a player this talented with the No. 21 pick is quite impressive. 

    This summer was a stepping stone and the first obstacle to a successful NBA career. Sullinger passed with flying colors. 

    Throughout the Summer League, Sullinger scored 14 points and hauled in eight rebounds per game. He showed great offensive touch in the paint and proved to be a load against some talented competition.

    If he keeps this up through training camp, he'll be in line for serious minutes this season. 

They Had a Solid Draft

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    Looking at the overall outcome of the Boston Celtics' 2012 draft, you have to be pretty happy with it thus far.

    Jared Sullinger has been as good or better than expected. He scored in double figures in six of nine games and also registered double-digit rebounds four times.

    He was also able to get to the charity stripe about six times per game, a benefit from his inside play.

    No. 22 overall pick Fab Melo has done as expected and has shown flashes of a talented defensive basketball player with so much still to learn.

    There were games where he played great, grabbing 10 rebounds against Orlando, four offensive. However, there were also games in which he put up zero points and three boards in 16 minutes.

    He did show some shot-blocking prowess and should earn some time as a third center. 

    Also, second-rounder Kris Joseph had a very good Summer League, showing some offensive skills and an ability to rebound from the 3.

    Joseph finished the 10 games combined scoring 8.7 points per game. In Orlando, he was grabbing nearly six rebounds per game.

Found a Surprise Christmas Present

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    The Celtics finished out the back of their Summer League roster with a bunch of guys fighting to earn an invite to training camp.

    One of them was the former Temple Owl, Dionte Christmas. 

    Christmas was a prolific scorer in college, averaging 20 points per game in each of his final three seasons there.

    In the interim, he has bounced around the world, making stops in Israel, Czech Republic and Greece.

    He played extremely well for the Celtics' entry into both leagues, reaching double figures in all but one contest. He showed a superb all-around game in Orlando, averaging 12 points, six rebounds and four assists per game. His play was a major cause of the effectiveness of the team.

    Celtics brass took notice as well and signed him up following the last summer game. Now it is up to Christmas to continue his solid play in order to find a spot on this team in the long run.

Fab Melo Needs a Lot of Work

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    Getting specifically into Fab Melo here, he looked lost way too often on the court.

    I am willing to chalk up a decent chunk of that to rust since he hasn't played this competitive of basketball since before the NCAA tournament in the spring. 

    His inconsistencies can also possibly be attributed to to his inexperience with the sets and teammates he finds himself with in Boston.

    A player of Melo's talent and athleticism cannot be going four games in the Summer League without a blocked shot. That is supposed to be his bread and butter.

    He did show promise on his offensive rebounding, but like the rest of his game, it was inconsistent.

    If he can perform in those two aspects (shot blocking and offensive rebounding), he will find a place on this team that is desperate for skilled size. 

Rajon Rondo Is Totally Invested

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    One of the biggest things the Celtics learned through the Summer League had very little to do with the players on the team or the performances they put on. 

    What Boston learned is that Rajon Rondo is totally invested in this team, especially in this youth movement.

    By showing up to talk with the players and help Tyronn Lue on the bench, Rondo proved that he is all-in with this group next season. 

    Not being on the Olympic team must still hurt him slightly, but it is for the best if he is doing things like this.

    So many times fans and media got on his back for appearing disinterested in games—this proves a new level of maturity for the point guard. It is truly a great thing to see.

Danny Ainge Continues to Excel at Turning Projects into Proven Talent

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    There is one thing that Danny Ainge has done unmistakably well over the past couple of years—he turns young projects into proven NBA talent. 

    He did so with the Jeff Green trade to bring in Ray Allen and quickly followed that with the Al Jefferson package that landed Kevin Garnett

    Ainge struck once again toward the end of the Summer League schedule when he packaged both of last year's draft picks (JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore) to send to Houston for Courtney Lee. 

    Lee is a proven NBA player who can play high-caliber perimeter defense and shoot the deep ball from the 2-guard spot. He may actually wind up the starting shooting guard to open the season until Avery Bradley returns.

    Moore was showing some promise in the Summer League but was still an unknown quantity, and his ceiling was an undersized backup combo-guard.

    Johnson, Boston's 2011 first-round selection was and is still a project. However, a four-year college player who can't play well in the Summer League says a lot about his future in the NBA. 

    This deal was the icing on the cake of a solid offseason and great Summer League showing from the young guns.