As the dog dogs of the NBA off-season continues on, there really hasn't been much for fans to look forward to. While that status won't go away for another month, when teams start to report to training camp, there's been an array of news that has importance to both the NBA and D-League.
That description would go to NBA teams signing unsigned talent to training camp contracts. Those players use the time to showcase themselves to the organization with hopes of landing onto the main NBA roster. While it's not uncommon for those players to make their way to the NBA when the season tips off, these signings usually end up having more importance to the D-League.
Following the end of training camp, each NBA team with an NBADL affiliate has the option to assign up to four released training camp invites onto their D-League squad. These allocations are usually the first cases where we can get an idea how each D-League roster will look like before the season begins in early November.
One particular team that has gotten a head start with molding their training camp roster has been the Boston Celtics. While the team seemingly finalized their roster once they acquired David Lee from the Warriors, they still set out to acquire some pretty talented players to their training camp squad. In anticipation to the start of training camp, and subsequently the D-League season, we're going to take a look at each of Boston's training camp signees.
Among the players that the Celtics will bring in for training camp, Corey Walden is probably the most unknown talent. Spending his college career at Eastern Kentucky, Walden stood out during his senior season, as he averaged 18.6 points and 3.8 assists per game on 54% from the field and 36% from beyond the arc. As might be apparent from those percentages, Walden is a well-rounded offensive player, as he's just as good from around the rim as he is from the perimeter.
Standing at 6'2, Walden does a nice job of being able to work his way to the rim through quickness and incredible ball-handling. Going against mid-major competition, Walden consistently looked two steps ahead of the competition, as he was in complete control whenever he was cutting to the paint.
While his perimeter percentage fluctuated during his college career, he has plenty of potential from that area due to his crazy NBA range. When he's on, Walden can hit shots from any corner of the perimeter, thanks in part to his smooth and quick shooting stroke.
From the moment that you watch Walden play, you can tell that he can definitely fit into the mold of prior NBADL scoring studs like Bryce Cotton or Andrew Goudelock. Like those two players, Walden is able to combine natural skill with unmistakable confidence, which is always a fun combination.
While his offensive work is impressive, Walden's work on the defensive end is what could turn heads when he makes his way to the Maine Red Claws. Working with the disadvantage of a less than stellar frame, Walden is able to play past that by just working harder than everybody else. Whether it would be applying heavy pressure to the opposing ball-handler or being aggressive in the passing lanes. That aggression led to Walden averaging 3 steals per game during the 2014-15 season.
In a similar way to Corey Walden, watching tape of Holy Cross forward Malcolm Miller reminded me a lot of former D-League All-Star Eric Griffin. Reason for that being Miler is a long, athletic forward that’s as solid at cutting to the rim with reckless abandon as he is with shooting from beyond the arc.
As far as his work as a cutter, Miller isn't the flashiest ball-handler but he does a pretty solid job of regularly working his way to the paint. Once he's there, Miller really starts to shine, as he can either throw down terrific dunks or use his terrific 7'0 wingspan to finish through contact.
Where the Griffin comparison really shines is through how comfortable Miller is from beyond the arc. Shooting 37% from beyond the arc, Miller does a great job of catching a pass and immediately getting in motion to shoot. One that occurs, Miller finishes it off with a textbook jumper with range that spreads out to beyond the arc.
Another place where Miller could shine is on the defensive end. During his senior season, Miller had the impressive accomplishment of averaging more than a steal (1.3) and block (1.6) per game.
The former Alabama guard might be the most well-known prospect of this bunch. A key member of the team during his four-year stint, Randolph truly shined during his senior season. Averaging 15.4 points and 5.1 rebounds per game on 48% shooting and 35% from beyond the arc, Randolph was named to the All-SEC 2nd team.
Like the other previous two players, Randolph was able to accomplish that by being an all-around offensive weapon. Like Miller, Randolph's offensive game is headlined by superb quickness and athleticism, which led to some flashy slams. Outside of those highlight dunks, Randolph is able to use that athleticism to be effective in half-court sets.
Able to work past his opponent whether he's working around on-ball screen or isolation's, Randolph does a great of working his way towards the paint. Once he reaches the paint is where Randolph is able to thrive as he can score in a variety of ways through floaters, layups through traffic or those aforementioned rim-rocking dunks.
Like the other players that we've profiled, Randolph is just as good from the perimeter as he is from cutting to the paint. Shooting 35% during his senior season, Randolph is able to put up perimeter jumpers whether he's working off screens or through catch-and shoots.
In a similar mold to Malcolm Miller, Levi Randolph definitely fits into the Celtics ideology of having athletic wings that can defend multiple positions and score in a multitude of ways. While he may not be on the Celtics roster on opening night, Randolph could become an early 10-day candidate if he can build off the performance from his senior season.
The former Arkansas wing is another player that fits into the aforementioned criteria of athletic wings that can defend against multiple positions. During his time with the team and in Israel with Hapoel Galik, Clarke displayed himself as an effective two-way player, in the same mold as Malcolm Miller. Like Miller, Clarke is in possession of an extremely long wingspan, which helps him out on both ends of the floor.
Offensively, Clarke was able to mainly display himself as an athletic cutter. With solid ball-handling skills and quickness, Clarke is able to mainly utilize the right lane to his advantage, as he was able to get to the rim whenever he wanted. When that occurred, he was able to finish with dunks that rivals potential Red Claws teammate Levi Randolph.
While he rarely utilized it during his time with Arkansas, Clarke was an extremely efficient perimeter shooter when he was given the opportunity. On 1.7 perimeter attempts per game during his senior season, Clarke shot 47% from that range.
Each player that the Celtics have brought into training camp have a particular aspect to love. Whether it would be Miller’s athleticism or Walden’s sheer tenacity as an offensive weapon, each member of this quartet warrants some level of excitement once they end up making their way to the Maine Red Claws.
As previously mentioned, Walden has the killer combination of scoring ability and sheer swagger that former NBADL All-Stars Bryce Cotton and Andrew Goudelock have previously possessed. Like that duo, Walden does have some skills as a facilitator, as he can dish the ball off to a teammate whether he's working on the perimeter or cutting towards the paint.
Malcolm Miller is a player that could easily make a similar mark on the D-League as Eric Griffin did during the 2014-15 season. Both players are extremely athletic wings that can throw down terrific slams in transition or half-court sets. Like Griffin, Miller is comfortable from beyond the arc as he shot a respectable 37% during his senior season.
Sticking with the comparisons, Levi Randolph reminds me a lot of former D-League star Jerel McNeal. Both players stand out as prototypical 3-and-D options, with Randolph having the slight edge due to his natural athleticism.
While Coty Clarke will come under the radar due to his year away in Israel, his athleticism and potential as a long-range threat could allow him to make an impact on the D-League.