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Your Summer League breakdown: Evaluating eight key players on the Celtics roster

After two seasons bouncing between the Cavaliers and Clippers and one season in the G League, former first-round pick Mfiondu Kabengele played his way into a two-way contract with the Celtics following a strong summer league showing.John Locher/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Here are some assessments of the key Celtics following the NBA’s Las Vegas Summer League.

J.D. Davison

The Celtics selected Davison with the 53rd pick of last month’s draft. The former five-star recruit’s lone season at Alabama was a struggle, but the point guard said he believes the NBA’s spacing will put him in a better position to succeed after dealing with congestion in college.

Davison, who signed a two-way contract, finished with a summer league-leading 8.2 assists per game, along with 13 points and 4.8 rebounds. He connected on 46.7 percent of his 3-pointers.

“From Game 1 to 5 I think my pace got way better,” Davison said. “I started to pick the pace up and started moving at a pro level. Also, I got used to the physicality where they don’t call touch fouls like they do at the college level.”


Boston’s summer league coach Ben Sullivan said he was impressed by Davison’s skills as a floor general. He displayed good vision and remained in control.

“You could see him more directing guys, putting guys in spots and kind of anticipating plays and setting stuff up,” Sullivan said. “So, you saw it grow. His IQ, his feel, his pace for playing is pretty special.”

The Celtics' second-round pick earlier this summer, J.D. Davison led all of summer league in assists. John Locher/Associated Press

Mfiondu Kabengele

Kabengele was the biggest winner in Las Vegas. Soon after the loss to the Nets in the finale Saturday night, the big man was signed to a two-way contract. Kabengele, the 27th pick of the 2019 draft, played a total 51 games over two years with the Clippers and Cavaliers before spending last season in the G League. He was beaming Saturday night as he talked about this fresh opportunity.

“I showed them my heart, my energy, my tenacity,” he said.

In Las Vegas, Kabengele averaged 14.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 2.2 blocks while making 58.7 percent of his shots and 40 percent of his 3-pointers.


“[Kabengele] grew in a lot of areas,” Sullivan said. “We were really trying to work on defending without fouling, verticality, stuff around the rim. And, being a ball mover a little bit on offense and understanding time and score situations, when to roll, when to pop. I thought for the most part he was really good.”

Kabengele, who could still contend for a regular roster spot, said he was eager to get to Boston to start training and to get a cannoli at Mike’s Pastry, eight years after Boston College’s coaches brought him there during a recruiting visit.

Juhann Begarin

Begarin often appeared to be the most athletic player on the floor, and the fact that he is still just 19 years old makes his potential even more enticing. The 6-foot-5 wing from France, who the Celtics selected in the second round of the 2021 drat, was able to overpower opponents while displaying an improved jump-shot.

He averaged 18.2 points, 5.6 rebounds and 2.4 assists, but his inexperience sometimes showed, as evidenced by his 4.2 turnovers. Begarin saved his best for last, erupting for 25 points, 7 rebounds and 3 steals against Brooklyn.

“The kid has been, to me, pretty special,” Sullivan said. “He can do so many different things. He’s knocked down threes, he’s gotten to the basket, he’s defended, he’s passed it. He’s got to tighten up his handle a little bit, a couple of turnovers here and there. If he improves in that area, the sky is the limit.”


The team conducted twice-monthly film sessions with Begarin last season. In addition to going over his own clips, they encouraged him to emulate Jaylen Brown’s offensive package and Marcus Smart’s defensive tenacity. With both two-way slots filled, it seems most likely that Begarin will remain overseas for one more season. He wouldn’t be able to contribute on Boston’s loaded roster, anyway. The Celtics may consider it valuable for Begarin to practice against their top players for a season, but that would also start his contract clock at an age when he is not ready to have an impact.

The Celtics' 2021 second-round pick, Juhann Begarin, showed off his athleticism in Las Vegas. He's likely to return to Europe for another season. John Locher/Associated Press

Brodric Thomas

Begarin’s dunks, Davison’s passes and Kabengele’s presence stood out, but Thomas was steady during his four games. He averaged 13.3 points, 5.3 rebounds and 2.5 assists and hit 51.6 percent of his shots overall and 52.2 percent of his 3-pointers.

Thomas was on a two-way deal with the Celtics and a league source said he will be in the mix for one of the final regular roster slots.

Celtics guard Brodric Thomas, who spent last season on a two-way contract, hit more than half of his 3-point attempts during summer league.Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Matt Ryan

Celtics fans probably remember Ryan most for the energy he displayed on the bench in street clothes, hyping up teammates during the playoff run. Ryan signed a two-way deal at midseason after Hauser had his converted to an NBA contract.

He appeared in just two games in Las Vegas because he injured his ankle after drilling a last-second, game-winning 3-pointer against the Bucks. During his brief opportunity, though, he was scorching, hitting 52.6 percent of his 3-pointers and connecting on five per game.


Like Thomas, the 25-year-old’s familiarity with Boston’s system could give him a slight leg up in his quest for one of the final roster spots.

Justin Jackson

Jackson signed a 10-day deal with the Celtics in December when the roster was being ravaged by COVID-19 but then contracted the virus after appearing in one game. The team considered re-signing Jackson in March but opted for Nik Stauskas instead.

Jackson missed the first two games in Las Vegas because he was recovering after taking part in USA Basketball’s World Cup qualifiers. The 27-year-old veteran showed his value as a scorer, averaging 16.7 points per contest, but he missed plenty of open looks, too.

Sam Hauser

Hauser struggled in the opener, then re-injured his shoulder in the win over the Bucks and sat out the last three games. But he was the only Celtic in Las Vegas without something to prove, as he inked a three-year deal with Boston a few days before summer league began. The team is hopeful that he can become a contributor next season. He has shown that he can shoot and just needs to continue to work on his defense.

Trevion Williams

Williams was listed as a second-round pick on plenty of boards before going undrafted last month and joining Boston’s summer squad. He was a burly presence in the post and flashed some nice passes, but his impact was minimal. He averaged 7.4 points and 6.6 rebounds per game. Look for the Celtics to attempt to keep Williams as an affiliate player in Maine.


Adam Himmelsbach can be reached at Follow him @adamhimmelsbach.