Boston Celtics 2018 Summer League preview

The Celtics are looking to see an improved Semi Ojeleye in Las Vegas

The Boston Celtics will tip-off their set of NBA Summer League games starting tomorrow night against the Philadelphia 76ers. Unlike the last two seasons, the Celtics will only be competing in Las Vegas this summer.

The Roster

Trey Davis will replace Jordan Loyd on the roster.

The Schedule

Friday, July 6 - 7:30 p.m. EST vs Philadelphia 76ers/ESPN

Saturday, July 7 - 11 p.m. EST vs Denver Nuggets/NBA TV

Monday, July 9 - 7 p.m. EST vs Charlotte Hornets/ESPN 2

The Las Vegas summer league playoffs will begin on July 11. Each team is guaranteed up to five games of action.

What to watch for

Semi Ojeleye's improvement on offense

Ojeleye became a pleasant surprise for Boston as the season went on with his defensive abilities. Brad Stevens could consistently place the rookie on one of the opposing teams best players and Ojeleye would routinely limit them all game. 

The forward out of SMU played in 73 regular season games, and 17 more in the postseason. However, Ojeleye averaged just 2.7 points and 2.2 rebounds per game on 34.6% shooting from the field, 32% from deep, and 61% from the line.

It looks like one of the first things the versatile defender did this summer was to try to become a consistent shooter on offense. Ojeleye has been working with Pure Sweat's Drew Hanlen, who trains Jayson Tatum, and his shot has already come a long way. Now we'll get to see it in a game situation.

Can Guerschon Yabusele push for a role with the main club?

Yabusele is entering his third season with the Celtics organization, despite spending a season stashed in China back in 2016, and he's still a very raw player. The Dancing Bear has the size and athleticism to be molded into a solid contributor but it'll depend on his own knowledge of Boston's system if Yabusele is to get there.

He struggled with defensive rotations and positioning on offense in 2017 but another offseason of development could help Yabusele mightily. The 6-foot-8, 260-pound forward is a good passer and decent scorer but defense is what gets you on the court in Boston. The Celtics pride themselves on it and Yabu will have to improve on that side of the ball before becoming a consistent part of the rotation.

Luckily, he has some perfect veterans to learn from in Al Horford, Daniel Theis, and Aron Baynes.

The debut of Robert Williams

It's been just two weeks since Boston selected Robert Williams with the No. 27 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft and he's already had quite the interesting tenure. The former Texas A&M center overslept his first conference call the morning after being drafted before missing his flight and the first practice of summer league.

The Celtics reportedly handled the issues in-house and could even be bringing in a few people close to Williams to help him as he transitions to the NBA level. The 6-foot-10, 240-pound prospect should help provide Boston with limitless defensive versatility. He can switch onto smaller players and bully big guys down low.

Williams can also defend above the rim. The Celtics know all about what he can do on defense but they might want to test the rookie a little bit on offense. Stevens has already spoken about his passing and shooting potential. It'll be intriguing to see if Boston tries to put him in some situations that he didn't have to deal with in college.

Is Abdel Nader on the cusp of a roster spot?

Abdel Nader isn't participating in summer league after he underwent wrist surgery shortly after the season ended. Nader is expected to be fully healthy again by training camp but he might not be on the roster by then. 

The former Iowa State star is guaranteed just 450K if he's waived before August 1st. That could give the Celtics the flexibility to open up their final roster spot for someone else. Jabari Bird and Kadeem Allen have already shown some potential at this level.

Guys like Jarell Eddie, Trey Davis, and Justin Bibbs could also be interesting players that have some untapped ability. Boston has just over a month to decide if Nader will remain on the roster. The performance of some of the other guys on this summer league roster could dictate that decision. 

Picture by Matt West/Boston Herald

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