It is training camp season, which means the Boston Celtics need to narrow down their team to a 15-man roster.
The C's have a talented bunch of players this season, some of whom will not make the cut. However, a D-League demotion isn't necessarily a bad thing. It gives young players a chance to develop their skills so they can fully contribute to a NBA team.
The surprise departure of Keyon Dooling intensified the battle for a roster spot, especially because he was another guard in the Celtics' deep pool of shooting guards. The recent signing of Darko Milicic leaves a single roster spot up for grabs.
Only one player can emerge from training camp as a member of the Boston Celtics.
Dionte Christmas is a 6'5" shooting guard from Temple University who is currently third on the depth chart, behind Courtney Lee and Jason Terry.
After playing for Temple, Christmas took his talents to Greece, where he played for the AEO Rethymno Aegean. He appeared in 26 games during the 2011-12 season and averaged 18.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.6 steals per game. He shot 46.3 percent from the field, as well as 36 percent from beyond the arc.
Christmas played for the Celtics in the 2012 Summer League games in Orlando and Las Vegas. He averaged 14.2 points, 4.2 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. His field-goal percentage improved to 47.9 percent, and 45 percent from three-point territory.
Although Christmas has shown improvement since college, the Celtics don't have much to offer him besides more experience. He still needs to show consistency before he's ready for the NBA. He probably wouldn't get much playing time this season.
Christmas is great competition for training camp, but he needs to spend some time in the D-League before he's ready to play in the NBA.
Fab Melo is teetering between riding the bench and being demoted to the D-League. The raw Brazilian center from Syracuse didn't perform well in the Summer League. Despite his backing from Celtics fans, Melo isn't quite ready to contribute to the Celtics yet.
Melo has an excellent shot-blocking ability and is a decent rebounder. He averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebound and 2.9 blocks during his last year at Syracuse.
However, Melo needs to work on his offensive game. Although he shot over 57.6 percent over two seasons in Syracuse, it's hard to imagine him being consistent in the NBA. He is still too raw on the offensive side of the ball, and needs to find a focal point for his scoring.
Darko Milicic and Chris Wilcox are both ahead of Melo on the depth chart for backup center. At this point, unless a center suffers an injury, Doc Rivers probably won't give Melo a significant number of minutes. It is likely that the rookie will spend some time in the D-League so he can hone his skills.
Jamar Smith has a good chance at making the Celtics' 15-man roster. Last season, the 6'3" combo guard played 48 games with the Red Claws, Boston's D-League affiliate. He averaged 13.6 points and 5.0 assists per game.
The Celtics already have enough talented guards, so Smith would have to stand out on his own. His best bet would be as a three-point shooter. Smith shot 38 percent from behind the three-point line when he was asked to be the primary ball-handler, but when someone else ran the point, that number jumped to 48 percent. In the D-League, he averaged 43 percent from beyond the arc.
Due to his lack of playmaking ability, Smith wouldn't be asked to run the point in the fashion of Rajon Rondo. If Smith has anything to offer the Celtics, it would be three-point scoring from off the bench. The Celtics struggled to get scoring from their secondary unit last season, so that is a priority for this year.
Kris Joseph is the Celtics' second-round draft pick from Syracuse. Although the reserve forward led his team in scoring last year, he will struggle to find floor time against Paul Pierce and Jeff Green.
Standing at 6'7", the only position Joseph can actually play is small forward. Although he could take his shot at 2-guard, the Celtics are already loaded at that position. As a four-year college player, Joseph could probably play right away if there was room for him on the roster. However, he's not exceptionally good at anything to warrant a spot on the team.
If Joseph can find his niche, he has the potential to be a solid role player. It's likely that Joseph will spend some time in the D-League with the Maine Red Claws. Joseph could definitely be a good look for the Celtics, but not for the 2012-13 season.
Rob Kurz is the Celtics' most recent training camp invite. After appearing in 40 games for the Golden State Warriors in 2008, the 27-year-old power forward has split the last three years between the D-League and overseas.
His game has rounded out since his stint with the Warriors. Kurz averaged 17.5 points, 10.1 rebounds and 1.5 blocks last season for the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. He also shot 49 percent from the field and 44 percent from the three-point line.
While it is very unlikely Kurz will make the final roster, he does have a hard fight in him. He will benefit from learning under veterans like Kevin Garnett, but will also return to the D-League after training camp is over. At the most, Kurz can serve as good competition for the younger guys, pushing them to work harder for their roster spot.