He’s only 19 and in clear need of the kind of polish only another year in the French League can provide.
But Juhann Begarin, on his last night of the 2022 NBA Summer League, showed his most growth of the summer with a 25-point performance in the Celtics’ Vegas-closing 102-95 loss to Brooklyn.
The loss dropped the Celtics to 3-2.
Begarin began by hitting his first five shots on the way to a 14-point first half, and ultimately shot 9-for-17, including 3-for-6 from downtown. Though likely headed back to Paris for another season, this athletic two guard showed lots of explosiveness – and perhaps even an improved 3-pointer – after playing all five games in Las Vegas.
JD Davison, though destined to spend most if not all of his time in 2022-23 as a Maine Celtic, followed up Thursday night’s 28-point, 10-assist performance against Golden State with his second straight double-double, this time with 17 points and 10 assists against the Nets.
He also finished the night leading the summer league field with an 8.2 assist average, albeit with one more day of competition left, including Sunday’s championship game between the Knicks and Trailblazers.
Brad Stevens also made a move to add another player off this summer league team (beyond the injured Sam Hauser) to his roster by signing Mfiondu Kabengele to a two-way contract on Saturday. The 24-year-old center, one of the best big men in the G-League last winter, continued to spread mayhem in the paint against the Nets.
Like Davison, Kabengele played in all five games, and averaged 14.8 points on 58.7% shooting to go along with 8.2 rebounds, including 3.0 offensive boards per game.
LeBron unloads on Garden fans
Though in the past LeBron James has talked of how much he enjoys playing in front of the TD Garden’s notoriously hostile crowd, the Lakers star wasn’t so complimentary earlier this week on his HBO series, the shop.
Asked why he hated Celtics fans, James unloaded.
“Cause they racist as (bleep),” he said. “They will say anything. And it’s fine. It’s my life, (bleep) I’ve been dealing with it my whole life. I don’t mind it. I hear it. If I hear somebody close by, I check them real quick, then move onto the game. They’re going to say whatever the (bleep) they want to say.”
James recounted an incident during the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals when a fan doused him with beer.
“There was like a (bleep) LBJ T-shirt,” he said. “I believe they sold it at the (bleeping) team shop.”
A political mix
The addition of Malcolm Brogdon makes the Celtics one of the most politically active lineups in the league, from Jaylen Brown’s position on the players association’s executive board to Grant Williams’ willingness to use his platform as the team’s player representative.
Brogdon, who stepped to the forefront as a spokesman for Milwaukee during the Orlando bubble – he read the Bucks’ statement when
the team threatened to boycott following the murder of George Floyd – comes from a family of civil rights activists.
He also went to Atlanta to join Brown when the latter led a protest march following Floyd’s death. But Brogdon’s association with his fellow Atlanta native goes back much further.
“I remember, once I got to college, hearing about him coming up while I was at (the University of Virginia),” he said. “Then I think maybe my junior or senior year, we played Cal when Jaylen was a freshman. He had a lot of hype, he had a lot of clout. Everybody knew he was going to be a top-3 pick in the draft. We played against each other; I think we both played well. That was really my first glimpse of seeing him. Knew he was going to be special. And then, coming up in the league, Jaylen was I believe the third pick, and I was in the second round.
“Milwaukee, Boston, we always had these battles in the first, second round of my first couple years. And me and Jaylen would match up against each other. I’ve always watched him sort of up close and from afar. Really, really clearly works on his game. I can tell the steps he’s taken every year on this game from just being a very dominant, explosive athlete to actually being a very skilled player that can think the game as well and think on both ends. It’s finally a privilege to be on his team. We really connected during the pandemic when he led a protest in Atlanta. We’re also both on the executive committee for the PA and have connected on there. But we were on one phone call during the pandemic, which he said that he was leading a protest in Atlanta. That’s when I reached out to him after the call. That was really the first time we probably connected on a personal level. Then we marched together in Atlanta. That’s when I really got to know pretty well and sort of realized what he’s really about. For him, it’s bigger than basketball, it’s about life. It’s about being an activist. It’s about being a good person. So always been a big fan of his and I’m really excited to play with him.”