Wednesday, September 21, 2022

A Massachusetts Native is expected to create the Celtics opening day

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With the Boston Celtics’ training camp roster largely settled, speculation as to who will make the cut will be a topic of discussion for the next month or so until the Celtics announce their Opening Day roster. The contenders for the bottom three squad spots are Jake Layman, Noah Vonleh, Bruno Caboclo, Justin Jackson, Denzel Valentine and Brodric Thomas – Thomas isn’t signed yet but is expected to take his final spot at training camp, according to Brian Robb on MassLive.

On September 16, NBC Sports Boston’s Chris Forsberg predicted that Layman will be among the two players to make the final cut while the Celtics leave their last roster spot open.

“Now, if the question is who comes up with any of the three roster spots currently open, my first guess would be that Jake Layman, Justin Jackson and the Celtics are keeping 15th spot open for maximum flexibility (and tax savings).”

Forsberg then shared why he thinks the Massachusetts native will make the cut above the rest.

“Layman was a permanent reserve in Portland and Minnesota. He fits in with Boston’s plans and is doing enough to cover up his perimeter shooting issues.”

Layman is one of only two players competing for a spot who received a multi-year contract after their first NBA contract expired. The other is Caboclo.

Layman was drafted 47th overall by the Orlando Magic in the 2016 NBA draft before his rights were traded to the Portland Trail Blazers. Layman played three years for the Trail Blazers, where he broke out into his third year with the team, averaging 7.6 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.7 assists while averaging 50.9 percent from the field in the 2018-19 season and 32.6 percent of three shot.

Layman then signed a three-year contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2019. Layman’s role was minimized in his three seasons with the Timberwolves, where his minute average rose from 22 to 13.9 to 6.8 per game in his senior year with the team.

Layman made a total of nine playoff games in the three years he played for the Trail Blazers. Overall, he averaged 1.9 points and 0.7 rebounds while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 16.7 percent from three in 4.9 minutes per game.

Layman was on the Timberwolves’ list when they made the playoffs last season, but he didn’t feature in their first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Justin Jackson was the other player Forsberg predicted would make the Celtics’ opening-day lineup. Forsberg explained why he thinks Jackson will make the cut.

“Jackson never quite lived up to his potential, but he was called in for 10 days when the team was thin last year and then had a solid summer league.”

Jackson, who was on the Milwaukee Bucks roster when they won the title in 2021, played three games for the Celtics during the 2022 Las Vegas Summer League. In those three games, Jackson averaged 16.7 points, 3.7 rebounds and three assists while shooting 43.2 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from three, according to NBA.com.

That included a standout performance against the Golden State Warriors that saw Jackson score 24 points.

These predictions are subject to change over time once training camp and pre-season preparation begins. Then everyone will be able to see who deserves a place on the team from those who try it.

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