This is the first in a three-part series of individual evaluations of the Celtics. This section includes two-way contract players, and others who were mostly out of the rotation this season. Players are graded based on the expectations within their roles.
Semi Ojeleye: C
The Celtics were encouraged by Ojeleye’s defense at the start of his career, and he was deployed to guard everyone from LeBron James to Giannis Antetokounmpo. But last offseason they were prepared to move on from Ojeleye had Gordon Hayward returned. Then Hayward joined the Hornets, and Ojeleye’s deal ultimately was guaranteed.
When defenses swarmed Celtics stars Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, Ojeleye benefited the most, frequently spotting up in the corner with plenty of space and time to operate. But his 3-point shooting dipped slightly to 36.7 percent, and his overall progress seems to have stalled.
Ojeleye, who turns 27 in December, started five games in a row while Marcus Smart was sidelined in February, but by April he had mostly fallen out of the rotation. He played in just six of the final 12 regular-season games and played a total of 12 minutes in the playoffs.
Brad Stevens made those decisions regarding playing time, and now he is making decisions regarding the roster. Ojeleye was a bargain at $1.7 million this season, but it appears unlikely that he will be back for a fifth year.
Carsen Edwards: C-minus
When the Celtics drafted Edwards two seasons ago, they hoped he would become a potent scorer capable of coming off the bench and drilling 3-pointers in bunches. It just hasn’t worked out.
The 5-foot-11-inch guard made just 28.6 percent of his shots from beyond the arc this season — 22.6 percent after the All-Star break — and if a shooter isn’t making shots, it’s hard to justify his presence.
The Celtics were outscored by 4.1 points per 100 possessions with Edwards on the court. He did appear more comfortable attacking the basket in the open floor, however, and that’s a big reason his 2-point percentage improved from 34.6 to 60.4.
Edwards had 16 points in the Feb. 5 win over the Clippers, and afterward Stevens said the team would not have won the game without him. Unfortunately for Edwards, that night turned out to be an anomaly.
Luke Kornet: C
The Celtics acquired Kornet as part of the March 25 trade in which starting center Daniel Theis was sent to the Bulls in a salary-shedding move. Initially, there were questions about whether the Celtics would waive Kornet before he even reported to Boston, thus opening a roster spot to use in the buyout market.
Then Kornet had a few productive games while Tristan Thompson was sidelined, and when the Celtics did need a roster spot to sign Jabari Parker, they waived Moe Wagner instead.
Kornet was used sparingly after that, although his per-36-minute stats — 11.3 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 3.5 blocks — were respectable, and his plus-7.7 net rating actually led the team. He was often used as a floor spacer, but connected on just 25 percent of his shots from beyond the arc.
Jabari Parker: C-plus
The mid-April signing of Parker was rather surprising. The No. 2 overall pick of the 2014 draft was waived by the Kings in March after playing a total of 27 minutes this season. The Celtics defense took a considerable step back this year, and that is Parker’s primary weakness. And in addition to his physical limitations, there were moments when it was startlingly obvious that he did not have a grasp of Boston’s system.
But he can still score, and it looked like he might fill a useful role at that end of the court when he connected on 12 of 18 shots his first three games with the Celtics. He did not play much the rest of the regular season before getting a surprisingly lengthy look in Game 1 of the playoff series against the Nets. Brooklyn relentlessly attacked Parker in pick-and-rolls, but he held up well enough given the circumstances.
Tacko Fall: B-minus
When fans returned to TD Garden, it did not take long for the “We want Tacko” chants to be rekindled. The 7-5, two-way-contract player remains a favorite of the crowd as well as his own teammates, and he unquestionably has made strides since the start of last year.
He runs the floor more efficiently, improved his conditioning, and generally appeared more comfortable with the ball in his hands.
Still, it’s clear he remains a project, and when he was on the court, opponents took advantage of his mobility issues.
The Maine Red Claws (now Maine Celtics) canceled their season this year because of COVID-19, so Fall missed out on important game reps in the G League. He was with the Celtics for the whole season, so there are benefits to that, too, but he needs playing time.
Fall turns 26 in December and has not shown that he is deserving of a regular roster spot yet. The Celtics need to consider giving a new project a chance on a two-way deal.
Tremont Waters: C
Waters was the G League Rookie of the Year last season. Like Fall, he would have benefited from an extended stay in Maine this year.
Waters has plenty of confidence, and his passes have plenty of sizzle. But the 5-10 point guard needs to show that he can truly run a team and defend more physical, athletic opponents.
Waters had some promising moments when most of the top players were held out of the last two regular-season games, averaging 15.5 points and 6 assists. There is no question about his basketball IQ, but he will need to do more to establish himself as a true backup point guard in the NBA.