After the final honking on Saturday, Boston’s Summer League season ended in a 102-95 loss en route to a 3-2 record. While the goal is always to rack up wins, the Summer League gives teams a better view of their draft prospects as well as unsigned players trying to find their place in the NBA. For a team like Boston, it’s an opportunity to look fill the end of their list and their places back and forth.
Rookie goaltender JD Davison showed promise, and the team was quick to sign him to a two-way deal; he’s much more likely to get regular minutes in Maine, with the Celtics’ top three guards in Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon and Derrick White taking the lion’s share of the workload. And late Saturday night, the Celtics announced they had signed big man Mfiondu Kabengele on their other two-way deal. The 24-year-old center was drafted 27th overall in the 2019 NBA Draft and showed promise in his minutes this Summer League.
Where does that leave Juhann Begarin? Part of the reason the Boston Celtics drafted Begarin 45th overall in the 2021 draft was due to his willingness to play overseas, and with a full roster in Boston, he was stashed with Paris Basketball. Fast forward to now, and Celtics fans got to see the work Begarin put into his game after another year of European pro basketball.
The Frenchman has shot 46.3% from the field and 42.9% from deep in the last three games, and in his last game he dropped 25 points on 9 of 17 shooting (3 of 6 from deep), 7 rebounds and three assists as well as three steals. Begarin has shown his athleticism and promise, and while he is still raw talent, there is good potential. While Boston still has a few spots to fill, can he make it into Boston’s roster plans? Even before Boston signs Kabengele in their remaining two-way spot, the situation for Begarin is tricky.
For starters, Boston’s top tier is 10 players deep, with the additions of Brogdon and Gallinari in the fold. Anyone else who could be added to Boston’s remaining three spots will most likely get a limited number of minutes unless they meet a specific need in Boston’s rotation. You have to consider the age and experience of any player you add, and that applies to guys like Begarin and Davison.
Celtics fans have heard this one before: he’s only 19! Begarin and Davison are still teenagers, with Begarin turning 20 in August. Both prospects are so young and as they continue to fill in, they will need as many minutes as possible to reach their potential. That kind of opportunity won’t sit well with the Celtics as they try to reach the Finals again this season, and the team can’t afford to have players who aren’t NBA ready. The Summer League is one thing, and playing against established NBA talent is a whole other challenge in itself.
After the tough tenures of players like Romeo Langford and Aaron Nesmith in Boston, fans are well aware of the importance of playing time when it comes to player development. It’s detrimental and a disservice to young guys to have to sit on the bench and sometimes get thrown out within minutes to sink or swim. In a role like that in Boston, nobody wins, and that can derail a young player’s confidence.
While it would be great to see Begarin in Boston, it would be better for both parties if he returned to Paris Basketball for at least one more year. He showed some serious promise and his shot started to fall off as he got more comfortable, but he needs more consistency in his game and the Celtics just don’t have the luxury of taking that. risk. Now, with no more two-way contracts to use on any of the remaining Summer League players, would it make sense for Begarin to join the Celtics this season?
He couldn’t join the Maine Celtics for minutes unless he signed with the G-League, and if that’s all it would be, Begarin would be far better off playing abroad in France for another season. He would leave a good amount of money on the table to play in the United States this season, and the young winger would not get the minutes needed to develop his game properly. Meanwhile, Boston could find a player with the minimum of veteran who would have no problem with a smaller role and would still produce within minutes.
Ultimately, we’ll have to see how the Celtics’ roster situation plays out, but for Juhann Begarin, playing overseas for another year could be the best outcome for his NBA career and future.