With Marcus Smart a mainstay, Derrick White having his best season and Malcolm Brogdon polishing his Sixth Man of the Year hardware, it’s fair to say the Celtics have a logjam in the backcourt. Promising youngster Payton Pritchard can’t get minutes and athletic G-League prospect J.D. Davison is waiting in the wings.
Not an easy time to be one of the Celtics’ two big international draftees playing overseas, then, both of whom are guards—22-year-old Israeli point guard Yam Madar and 20-year-old shooting guard Juhann Begarin of Guadeloupe.
With the Celtics focused on adding talent to push the team’s way back to the NBA Finals, playing time for developing players figures to be scant. But there’s a chance we could see one of the foreign Celts in Boston at some point next year.
Maybe even both, but that is a longshot.
Yam Madar Compares Well to Payton Pritchard
Start with Madar. Around the league, he is considered the more polished prospect, and some scouts felt he was NBA-ready last season. Instead, he played for Partizan in Serbia (coached by Euro legend Zeljko Obradovic), and earned ‘Best Young Player” honors in a vote of European players. He averaged 5.7 points in Euroleague play, and shot 36.1% from the 3-point line. In league play, he averaged 6.9 points and shot 51.0% from the arc.
Madar has solidified his reputation as a shooter, and has improved as a playmaker. His defense remains a weakness, and because of that, he would not be much more likely to play big minutes in Boston, even if Pritchard is traded.
“There are some similarities to Pritchard, but for the most part, Madar is smaller physically, more athletic but not as tough—that is the big thing he would have to show in the NBA, that he can take the physicality,” one NBA personnel man told Heavy Sports. “He can shoot. He can be an NBA-caliber shooter and he is a decent enough playmaker, he has gotten better there. Not great defensively, though, and that is what got Pritchard benched.
“But as a cheap option to have on the bench, the 11th man? You could do worse. He could handle a role of some kind. He does need to play to keep developing, though, you don’t want him to rot on the bench. He is 22, he is not some long-term project anymore. If you bring him over, you’ve got to play him.”
Bear that in mind as the draft approaches — there has been interest in Madar as a trade asset in the past, and San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich is a friend of Obradovic. “(Madar) would be best suited for a rebuilding situation, no doubt,” the personnel man said.
Begarin Remains a Raw Prospect
Begarin is a different story. He is more of an athlete with the build of a player who could be a fierce perimeter defender. Unfortunately, he has not made many strides offensively and shot just 25.9% from the 3-point line in EuroCup play, and 27.9% in league play in France.
Oddly, that could make Begarin more likely than Madar to be in Boston next year. If the Celtics do not feel that he is making strides with his team in Paris, they may want to give him one of their three two-way contracts and have Begarin develop in Maine. Madar would be a stretch to get a G-League deal—he would be better off continuing to develop with Partizan.
“(Begarin) has a lot of bounce,” one international scout told Heavy Sports. “There is a lot there just physically, a lot to work with. I’d rather see him working with my coaches and getting brought along under my care rather than overseas. He needs to get smarter just in how he thinks the game, it would help him to be in an NBA-type environment.
“He is so young, not just in terms of his age but in terms of his basketball experience in general. Does he have the work ethic? You can’t really know that until you get him in your system. He needs to be pushed in the right direction.”
The scout added that with a belief in Davison’s potential and with the No. 35 pick in this year’s draft, the Celtics could quickly see their two-way spots gobbled up, especially if the team chooses to use one spot on an emergency veteran. There simply might not be room for Begarin or Madar at this point.
“I don’t know what they’re going to do with their pick or with the back end of that roster, so it is kind of hard to say how he fits,” the scout noted. “It’d be nice to have (Begarin) there, I am sure. But do you have the spot for that? That’s a different story.”