May 17, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas represents his team during the NBA draft lottery at New York Hilton Midtown. The Philadelphia 76ers received the first overall pick in the 2016 draft. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
In the second round, the Celtics selected Notre Dame guard Demetrius Jackson, forward Ben Bentil out of Providence, and Iowa State swingman Abdel Nader. Every draft selection besides Zizic had at either Summer League or preseason experience with the Celtics.
Bentil was ultimately cut before the regular season, and Nader was sent to Maine to play in the NBA D-League with the Red Claws. Yabusele and Zizic became the Celtics first overseas “draft and stash” players since Semih Erden back in 2008.
Jackson is the only draft pick outside of Brown to make the active roster, but will bounce back and forth between Boston and Maine throughout the season. Let us see how each of the stashed rookies have faired in their respective leagues so far this season.
Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Guerschon Yabusele is interviewed after being selected as the number sixteen overall pick to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
PPG: 15.2 APG: 1.8 RPG: 8.0 FG%: 40.7 3P%: 34.1
After showing Celtics fans glimpses of his potential in both Utah and Las Vegas Summer Leagues, Yabusele went to China to play for the Shanghai Sharks alongside Jimmer Fredette. In a preseason game against the Houston Rockets, Yabusele went for 24 points and 12 rebounds. An impressive showing against real NBA competition is a good sign for the Celtics.
In both the Summer League and now in China, Yabusele shows a very unique skill set in 6’7, 260 pound frame. He is surprisingly quick off the dribble, and has a nice shooting touch to keep defenses honest. The best comparison for Yabusele’s game is Draymond Green. While not even close to being as good as Green, Yabusele has a unique, and versatile game that makes Draymond Green the X-Factor for the Warriors.
If Yabusele can continue his strong season in China, and gain valuable pro experience, the Celtics will have to find a roster spot for this guy. His versatility coming off the bench would be a welcome addition by Brad Stevens and Celtics fans everywhere.
Oct 15, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Boston Celtics guard Demetrius Jackson (9) takes a shot while being defended by New York Knicks firward Maurice Ndour (2) during the second half at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics won 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
PPG: 21.3 APG: 6.5 RPG: 5.3 FG%: 55.4 3P%: 38.9
Demetrius Jackson earned a spot on the 15 man roster from strong Summer League and preseason performances. However, it is better for his development that the second round pick plays with the Red Claws in the D-League from time to time.
In his playing time in Maine, Jackson has looked very comfortable getting into the paint and working off the dribble on the perimeter. Watching him in action really makes me wonder how Jackson fell all the way to 45th in the draft this past summer. This guy can flat out play. He defends well, shoots well, and is a good rebounder for his size.
Given the amount of talent at the guard position for the Celtics, Jackson’s future playing time is uncertain. If no guards ahead of him get moved, the Celtics might decide to include Jackson in a big trade as a valuable guard that has not been given playing time.
Jun 23, 2016; New York, NY, USA; Ante Zizic greets NBA commissioner Adam Silver after being selected as the number twenty-three overall pick to the Boston Celtics in the first round of the 2016 NBA Draft at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports
PPG: 19.8 APG: 1.5 RPG: 8.8 BLK: 1.45 FG%: 66.7
Ante Zizic was drafted as a high energy big that provides rim protection and rebounding. So far so good in that area. Zizic attacks the boards very effectively on both ends of the floor. In a game in early October, Zizic poured in 37 points while grabbing 20 rebounds. That kind of production on the professional level has to be encouraging for the Celtics.
Zizic shoots a high percentage since most of his offense comes within the paint. He shows a mid range touch from time to time, but Zizic must improve his range drastically before he can become a complete big man in the NBA.
Hopefully that when he comes over the U.S., Zizic provides physicality and and consistent energy to a Celtics front court that lacks players that play with force.
Mar 19, 2016; Denver , CO, USA;Arkansas Little Rock Trojans guard Jalen Jackson (1) defends as Iowa State Cyclones forward Abdel Nader (2) drives in first half action of Iowa State vs Arkansas Little Rock during the second round of the 2016 NCAA Tournament at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
PPG: 24.3 APG: 3.2 RPG: 3.8 FG%: 52.6 3P%: 45.2
Taken with the 58th overall pick in the draft, Abdel Nader came with almost no expectations. In the Summer League, Nader quickly impressed the Celtics coaching staff with his effective drives to the basket, and being able to knock down threes.
So far in the D-League, Nader has continued his strong play as the best player on the Red Claws. He still drives to the basket very effectively, and has displayed an impressive ability to set up his teammates after collapsing defenses. Nader is also demonstrating a very high shooting percentage, which will prove to be important for his chances of moving up to the NBA roster.
Nader has been a pleasant surprise to the Celtics 2016 draft class. Like Yabusele, Nader can provide valuable versatility on both ends of the floor to help the Celtics bench.
The Celtics were highly criticized on draft night for the lack of fireworks. However, they seem to have drafted a group of players with unique skill sets that could potentially contribute to a championship team. Their strong level of play should be watched carefully this season to see if their should be a spot opened on the roster for them in the near future.