NBA Summer League

2023 NBA Summer League: Three Celtics players fans should watch closely

Boston's summer league roster is full of intriguing players for fans to keep an eye on.

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The last time the Boston Celtics were in action, their 2022-23 season ended with a loss to the Miami Heat in Game 7 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Finals in May.

The C's will return to the court Saturday night for their first game of the 2023 NBA Summer League in Las Vegas against the Heat. It's the first of four summer league matchups the Celtics are scheduled to play.

Here's a look at the Celtics' summer league roster.

NumberNamePositionHeightAge2022-23 team
51Udoka AzubuikeC6-1023Utah Jazz (NBA)
50Olek BalcerowskiC7-122Gran Canaria (Spain)
26Kamar BaldwinG6-125Maine Celtics (G-League)
Dalano BantonG6-723Toronto Raptors (NBA)
38Justin BeanF6-726Memphis Hustle (G-League)
99Justin ChampagnieF6-622Boston Celtics (NBA)
20J.D. DavisonG6-320Boston Celtics (NBA)
45Sam GrieselF6-623Nebraska (NCAA)
55Reggie KissoonlalC7-027Maine Celtics (G-League)
37Mychal MulderG6-329Sioux Falls Skyforce (G-League)
29Jay ScrubbG6-522Lakeland Magic (G-League)
41Vincent Valerio-BodonF6-922Sopron KC (Hungary)
27Jordan WalshF6-719Arkansas (NCAA)

Which specific players should Celtics fans keep an eye on during summer league action? Here are three names.

Jordan Walsh

Walsh was the Celtics' only selection in the 2023 NBA Draft, and they picked him at No. 38 overall in the second round. The athletic wing was an excellent defender at the University of Arkansas, and that end of the court is likely where he'll make his strongest impact as a rookie.

Arkansas head coach Eric Musselman recently joined NBC Sports Boston's Celtics Talk Podcast and told our Chris Forsberg that Walsh is a "violent defender" who can "take a premier scorer out of the game."

"That’s what he did at the college level, where we could assign him to a top player on the other team and then not have to give any help," Musselman said.

"So he's a great lockdown defender, individually, and then off the ball. He's a great loose-ball getter. He rebounds out of his area, defensively. So it just gives you a lot of different things from a defense perspective. And, most importantly, he allows the coaching staff to have versatility in their defensive game plans because of his ability to jump passing lanes and create some offense through defense."

Celtics Talk: Arkansas coach offers scouting report on Celtics rookie Jordan Walsh | Listen & Subscribe | Watch on YouTube

Being a lockdown defender on the perimeter is fantastic, but to earn a consistent role in the regular season (and especially the playoffs) every player needs to be able to offer something offensively.

Walsh shot just 27.8 percent from 3-point range at Arkansas. Improving that facet of his skill set during summer league would be a huge step for him.

J.D. Davison

Davison was a second-round pick by the Celtics out of Alabama in 2022. He had a strong debut season for the Maine Celtics in the G League and averaged a team-leading 8.7 assists (fifth-best in the G League), along with 12.5 points per game on 50.6 percent shooting.

Davison transformed into one of the G League's best playmakers, and after losing Marcus Smart this offseason, the Celtics could use another quality passer and primary ballhandler on their bench. The 6-foot-3 guard also plays with a high level of tenacity and energy as a defender.

Davison has a great opportunity to be a vocal leader/floor general with the summer Celtics and showcase why he deserves to be in Boston much more often than Maine next season.

Dalano Banton

Banton is one of the most intriguing players on the Celtics' summer league roster after recently signing a two-year deal with Boston.

He was a 2021 second-round pick of the Toronto Raptors and showed flashes of potential over the last two seasons. Even though he has yet to break out, there is a strong enough skill set with Banton that makes him worth gambling on from the Celtics' perspective.

He's a pretty big guard at 6-foot-8 and 210 pounds. He also has a 6-foot-10 wingspan that helps him deflect passes and block shots, especially at the rim against smaller guards. Banton attacks the basket strong and finishes decently well. He's not much of an outside shooter -- 27.5 percent from 3-point range in 95 career NBA games -- but that can be improved.

Banton is often at his best in the open court. He's constantly pushing the pace after defensive rebounds, which is what the Celtics love to do. Summer League is a high-pace environment, which should allow Banton to thrive and show off the best of his talents.

Banton could surprise plenty of people in Las Vegas. Combo guards with his size, length and athleticism can be pretty valuable players off the bench. The Celtics need more of those three attributes after losing Marcus Smart and Grant Williams this offseason.

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