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2016-17 NBADL Team Preview: Maine Red Claws

Editor Dakota Schmidt continues Ridiculous Upside’s 2016-17 NBADL preview by looking at the Maine Red Claws

NCAA Basketball: Louisville at Pittsburgh Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Projected Opening Day Starting Five

Point Guard: Marcus Georges-Hunt

Shooting Guard: Damion Lee

Small Forward: Abdel Nader

Power Forward: Jalen Jones

Center: Dallas Lauderdale

How Did They Do Last Year?

Led by an strong unit that included Coty Clarke, Omari Johnson, Malcolm Miller, Levi Randolph and Celtics rookie Jordan Mickey, the Red Claws finished the 2015-16 season with a 31-19 record. With a 62% winning percentage, the Red Claws were the third best NBADL team behind the Reno Bighorns (33-17) and Sioux Falls Skyforce (40-10). However, the Red Claws were unable to carry that success into the postseason as they were swept by the Canton Charge.

How Will They Do This Year?

Like last year, the Red Claws should have a pretty solid season with the potential for postseason success. Once again, the Red Claws will have a pretty strong core in place that will be led by the quartet of Damion Lee, Abdel Nader, Marcus Georges-Hunt Isiah Umipig. While Nader, Georges-Hunt and Lee are recognizable players for any fan of college hoops, Umipig might stand out as a real sleeper due to his knack as a facilitator and outside shooter. Alongside that trio, the Red Claws could also bring back Ryan Kelly, who’s currently playing with the Atlanta Hawks.

Who Is The Most Likely Call-Up?

If we don’t count Ryan Kelly who’s already been called up to the NBA, the nod would have to go to Damion Lee. Lee is a solid 6’6 wing with an incredibly versatile offensive game that averaged 15.9 points on 43% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc. Alongside that, Lee has plenty of success on the defensive end where he can use his 6’6 frame to defend multiple positions. In addition to that versatility, Lee was a bit of a ball-hawk as he averaged 1.5 steals per game as a senior.

Most Likely Assignee?

Over the last few years, the Boston Celtics have been one of the best teams in the NBA when it comes to utilizing the D-League to develop their prospects. A prime example is with Terry Rozier, as he spent a good portion of last season with the Maine Red Claws. That D-League experience has allowed Rozier to have a pretty fantastic start to his sophomore season, as he’s averaging 6.4 points and 2.2 assists per game on 48% from the field and 42% from beyond the arc in 20 minutes per game.

Transitioning into this year, that player could be Demetrius Jackson. The Notre Dame alum and 45th overall pick in the 2016 draft hasn’t seen a minute of playing time during the current NBA season. That inactivity could lead the Celtics to pushing Jackson towards the Red Claws and the D-League, where he’d have an opportunity to get plenty of playing time and work on his all-around game.

Will Ryan Kelly Return To The Maine Red Claws?

Following his preseason release by the Atlanta Hawks, the Boston Celtics signed and then waived Ryan Kelly to basically hold on to his D-League rights, as it seemed certain that another NBA team wouldn’t sign him. However, the Celtics were wrong as the Hawks brought back Kelly to step into the team’s rotation after power forward Mike Scott went down with a sore left knee.

At this point, Kelly just seems to be a warm body on the Hawks roster, as he hasn’t played a minute since signing with the team. Although the Hawks might decide to keep him on board, it seems likely that Kelly should be returning to the D-League and the Red Claws after Mike Scott comes back from injury.