Finding some help at the power forward position remains a high priority for the Boston Celtics as we inch closer to the start of training camp.
By now, we’re all aware of the former first-round draft picks set to duke it out for a potential roster spot in the coming weeks, but what happens if none of them manage to impress? Or do they show limited upside? Do the Celtics pivot and dive into the free agent market in hopes of finding an impactful veteran?
Well, according to Sports Illustrated’s Ben Stinar, there is another option available, but it certainly comes with a risk factor – and that is extending a contract for LiAngelo Ball for the upcoming season.
“Last season, Ball played for the G League’s Greensboro Swarm (Hornets’ affiliate) and averaged 9.1 points and 2.3 rebounds per contest. He also shot a miraculous 62.2% from the field and 53.6% from the three-point range…Ball is 6’5″, 230 lbs, so he could provide depth at the position if he were to make the team or be given a two-way contract,” Stinar wrote in his September 18 article.
Despite being given multiple training camp opportunities in recent years, Ball has yet to participate in an NBA game but has been impressive during his time in the G-League – with his size, skill, and basketball pedigree (look at who his brothers are!) there is every reason to believe he still has plenty of untapped potential – and that could tempt Brad Stevens into taking a closer look.
Brodric Thomas Takes Celtics Final Training Camp Spot
NBA teams are allowed to take 20 players into training camp, and they must whittle that down to a total of 15 players before the season begins. After adding Jake Layman in the early parts of September, Masslive’s Brian Robb has reported Summer League standout Brodic Thomas will fill the last training camp spot for the Celtics.
“A league source tells MassLive that former two-way player Brodric Thomas is expected to be signed ahead of camp as well,” Robb wrote on September 15.
Thomas, unlike LiAngelo Ball, does have some NBA experience, having participated in 44 NBA games – starting one of them. Last season, the Illinois natvie participated in 12 games for the Celtics, averaging 1.8 points, 0.8 rebounds, and 0.9 assists per game while shooting 22.2% from deep and 66.7% from two-point range.
Jake Layman & Justin Jackson Expected to Make Roster
As things stand, there is a genuine argument to be made for all of Boston’s training camp hopefuls to earn a roster spot heading into the new season. However, according to NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg, Jake Layman and Justin Jackson are the two front runners to earn a contract before the season begins, with Boston potentially opting to keep their 15th roster spot open.
“Now, if the question is who emerges with one of three currently open roster spots, my early guesses would be Jake Layman, Justin Jackson, and the Celtics keep the 15th slot open for maximum flexibility (and tax savings). Layman was a steady reserve in Portland and Minnesota. He fits Boston’s schemes and does enough to mask his perimeter shooting woes. Jackson has never quite tapped into his potential but got a call for a 10-day when the team was thin on bodies last year and then had a solid summer league,” Forsberg wrote in his September 16 mailbag article.
Of course, Noah Vonleh and Bruno Caboclo might believe they will have something to say about that, as they’re both former NBA level talents fighting to return to the league – but given Boston’s needs, and the upside of Layman and Jackson, Forsberg is probably right on this one. And, leaving the 15th roster spot open certainly affords Boston some much-needed flexibility around the trade deadline, and we know how important that can be.