Time is running out for Jordan Mickey to earn a role on the Boston Celtics
When the Boston Celtics gave Jordan Mickey the most lucrative contract for a second round pick ever, the hype quickly picked up for him. His ability to block shots was unparalleled in college, and he didn’t miss a beat, terrorizing opponents as a shot blocker in the D League.
Then, when Mickey was finally going to get his chance to have a permanent spot on the NBA roster, a lot of people expected him to become one of the more important players on the bench. This was supposed to be the year that Mickey finally overtook Tyler Zeller and Jonas Jerebko, with the potential to be a great defensive stud to play next to Kelly Olynyk.
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Well, none of that has worked out. Mickey has seen limited minutes when injuries piled up, but has failed to do anything impressive. Mickey was being attacked on defense, and looked as limited as ever on offense.
The Celtics took a patient route with Mickey, but it is starting to feel as though he may be following a path far too similar to that of James Young. Of course, Mickey is still younger and still deserves some time, but his inability to have a defensive impact is concerning. Stevens has shown a willingness to play young players with Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown, but that is because of their ability to be trusted on the defensive end.
The Celtics need Mickey’s shot blocking and rebounding potential, but he has not been able to establish any trust on the defensive end. Mickey has failed to get into the rotation in what may be the thinnest front court in the NBA. The competition ahead of Mickey is nonexistent, and he still cannot do enough to get limited minutes.
The Celtics have made it clear that they will be patient with their young players, but it will only get harder and harder for Mickey. With all kinds of draft picks remaining, the Celtics will be bringing in more young talent, and they have two bigs overseas who will be eyeing his roster spot next season.
Mickey needs to do something to prove that he can contribute to this team, otherwise they will have no choice but to go to other options. The Celtics need to see what they have in both Ante Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele, and the two of them alone could make Mickey worth less than a roster spot.
There is no guarantee that either of them play well enough to leapfrog over Mickey, but the more time Mickey takes to get a role, the harder the competition will be getting. The Celtics know that they need to fix their front court depth. Their biggest problem is their rebounding and they cannot afford to sit idle as Mickey develops. The Celtics are in a position where they want to be contending for a championship right now, and minutes will not be wasted on a player that is not contributing.
If Zizic or Yabusele prove that they can have any kind of impact on the defensive end, then Mickey will find himself right next to Young as the most expendable players on the team. Add on the potential for the Celtics to add even more bigs in the draft or free agency, and the future is the bleakest it has ever been for Mickey.
Mickey’s trade value has also disappeared this season. The Celtics have so many assets that it is hard to imagine any team wanting Mickey to be a part of the package. There is always the shot blocking potential he has shown at inferior levels, but failing like this in his first opportunity in the NBA is a bad look for him.
Mickey has a long ways to go on both ends, and with the pace he is going at, there will not be close to enough time for him to make the improvements that will allow Stevens to trust him on the court.
Mickey had shot blocking potential that was supposed to transform this defense, but none of that has come to fruition. At this point, he may not get another decent opportunity this season, making this coming offseason do or die time for Mickey as all the additional competition joins the team.