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The NBA’s Best Out-of-Bounds Sets and Coaches

Ben Dowsett breaks downs some of the best out-of-bounds sets and coaches from around the NBA.

Ben Dowsett

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Evaluating the day-in, day-out job of an NBA coach from a media perch will always be a supremely incomplete exercise. There’s just a ton of stuff that goes on within the confines of a given coach’s responsibilities that we’ll never see or hear about, and often some of the details herein are the biggest differentiators between what makes a good coach and a bad one.

There are bits of visible minutiae that allow us to judge a partial picture, though. Some of these are related to things like player development, in-game rotations, offensive and defensive schemes, and other elements – though even in these areas, player execution and other confounding factors will still always be at play. Over the years, though, one area that’s become a fun way to examine one distinct skill in a given coach’s arsenal has been looking at his team’s success on plays where coaches can have some of the largest tangible impact: out-of-bounds sets, particularly following timeouts and even more particularly in high-leverage situations.

Again, while this covers only a very small sub-section of a coach’s responsibilities and is absolutely influenced by external factors outside their control, it can be a fun proxy for which coaches are consistently the most inventive. A few guys have teams who consistently show up on the top end of efficiency for these kinds of plays year after year – at some point it’s no longer coincidence. It’s a real skill for coaches to draw up stuff that can create big openings given the constraints: just five seconds to get the ball inbounds, and a set defense waiting for trickery.

With that in mind, let’s have a little fun today. Here are a few examples, from basic to complex, of coaches running creative and exploitative out-of-bounds sets to get their teams some easy points. To the NBA junkie, this is more art than basketball (one quick clarification: these are not necessarily the teams or coaches who have the most consistent success, though several herein would be on that list).

Simple Stuff

Dwane Casey, like most coaches, has generally simple actions built into his scheme for out-of-bounds sets. He’s typically not looking for quick-hitters, but rather to get the ball inbounds safely to a free man and then initiate what’s been an efficient halfcourt offense in his time at the helm.

When teams start to prepare only for this, though, you can toss in the occasional wrinkle that preys on their assumption and finds an effortless look. See if you can spot the simple misdirection they use to get Cory Joseph a wide open three here:

James Johnson inbounds the ball, then immediately moves to take a Joseph down screen that looks like a standard way of getting Johnson into the post with good position on a smaller defender:

Raps1

As he finishes his screen, though, Joseph leaps quickly up to the top of the key, and as he does, big man Lucas Nogueira activates what’s known as “screening for the screener” action, where he immediately sets a second pick for Joseph, whose man is already lagging way behind after trying to adjust for Joseph’s first screen. What results is gravy:

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To be perfectly fair, some of the success on this play is Denver mangling their coverage somewhat badly. Jameer Nelson, checking Joseph, is a full second late realizing what’s happening. But it’s an example of how you can catch a team off guard with a small wrinkle if you normally run very simple stuff. The Raps are second in the league for sideline out-of-bounds efficiency, per Synergy Sports, and first for all after-timeout plays, in large part because they strike a good balance between low-risk stuff and the occasional bit of creativity.

More Inbounder Fun

Utilizing the inbounder as a piece of the resulting set is a popular way of creating some confusion, and Mike Budenholzer in Atlanta has an extremely simple way of doing so that’s almost guaranteed to create a mismatch at worst and a layup at best. It utilizes Paul Millsap (as the inbounder in this case) and Kyle Korver, two of the headiest players in the league, both of whom know exactly how their individual gravity will make defenses lean.

Millsap inbounds to the top of the key, then runs into a very similar Korver down screen as the one we saw from Toronto above. This is especially dangerous with Korver as the screen-setter – teams are quite wary by now of him setting screens as a way to get open threes for himself, and they don’t want to get burned. As a result, with no further complication needed, Millsap simply takes the screen and gets a layup when two OKC defenders are more focused on Korver:

It won’t always work this well, of course, but this easy set is nearly guaranteed to create at least small problems for the defense. At worst, Millsap likely ends up with good post position on a smaller defender who’s switched off of Korver, and if any D is too focused on Paul, one of the best off-screen shooters in league history gets an open triple. If they execute well and set firm screens, this is nearly guaranteed to create difficult rotations even in the best-case scenarios for the defense.

Gravity Machines

Another great way to find pockets of open space on inbound sets is to exploit the gravity certain shooters possess while on the floor, something the Hawks were doing above by utilizing Korver as their screen-setter. This can be done even more directly, though, and a couple coaches with some of the highest-gravity options in the game know just how to use them.

First take Rick Carlisle in Dallas, who has long been one of the strongest tactical minds in the game. Rick knows Dirk Nowitzki is one of the more unique gravity players to ever lace up – Dirk is big enough to set heavy screens on smaller guys, but such a threat from anywhere on the floor that teams are terrified of giving him any separation to help elsewhere.

We’ve slowed this one down so anyone watching carefully should be able to catch it. Watch as Dirk preps to set a basic cross-screen for Devin Harris to loop around (Dirk even motions for Harris to sell the façade), but a very easy counter (one that’s almost certainly at Harris’ own discretion when he sees the opening) gets one of the easiest layups you’ll see in the halfcourt:

Look what Jerami Grant (39), Dirk’s man, is doing as Harris cuts past him for the layup – he’s staring at Dirk:

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In retrospect, Grant should have helped down on Harris to prevent the layup, which is a much more efficient shot in the long run than a Dirk jumper. But Carlisle and the Mavs are counting on defenses consistently overreacting to Dirk’s presence – his defenders have spent the better part of two decades hearing about how much trouble they’ll be in if they let this slow, lumbering seven-footer find an open jumper. Voila, you get a layup. Great stuff, Rick, and stuff he’ll have at his disposal in some form until the day Nowitzki hangs it up.

Another example of exploiting insane gravity from a single player comes from the Warriors, though in this case (like most of their stuff), it’s truly tough to discern how much is pre-planned involving Luke Walton or Steve Kerr and how much is just a group of remarkably heady players improvising awesomeness.

Steph Curry, of course, is the linchpin allowing space to open up everywhere else. Watch as he and Klay Thompson loop simultaneously, then proceed to enter into the “spin cycle” of confusion they’re better at than anyone else in the league, intentionally creating chaos within a group of players. Steph will often rocket out of these anarchical pockets with confused and defeated defenders too far behind, but on this occasion, he’s just a decoy for Klay:

Just…poetry. That’s all this is. Within a span of under half a second, Klay realizes that both his defender and Steph’s are going with Curry as he leaves the spin cycle and sprints back up outside the arc – so Thompson simply slips along the baseline and gets a wide open layup before anyone even knows what’s happening. The Dubs can do this kind of stuff from anywhere on the floor so long as Curry and Thompson (at least the former, at minimum) are in the game, and it’s no coincidence they’ve surrounded these guys with smart, unselfish ball-movers who can find them when they inevitably open up cracks.

The Usual Suspects

Opinions will differ regarding which coaches are truly the best with their out-of-bounds and after-timeout sets, but a few names will appear frequently on these lists. Budenholzer and Carlisle were both listed above, but three others are perhaps the most common you’ll hear, not only for this niche area but for coaching overall: Brad Stevens, Gregg Popovich and Frank Vogel.

Brad Stevens in Boston has quickly developed a reputation as maybe the best in-game coach in the league, even surpassing guys like Pop and Carlisle in many eyes. He’s a legitimate savant for recognizing a trend or matchup that can yield his team an easy bucket, and while the execution can’t always be perfect, there’s an easy argument that he puts his group in a better position time in and time out than any other bench boss in the league. Watch the following Celtics set and see if you had even the slightest inkling of what was coming before it happened:

Not much analysis is really even necessary here. Stevens is the league’s foremost master at playing on what an opponent thinks is coming before pulling the wool over their eyes in an instant, and sets like these aren’t even uncommon at this point. Many keen observers would pick him over anyone else in the world if their life depended on an end-of-game OOB set working for two points.

Just a few years Stevens’ senior within the NBA ranks, Pacers coach Frank Vogel also has an excellent all-around reputation. The way he’s re-worked his team’s style on the fly this summer after wide roster turnover has been special, and the way he’s leveraged the shooting available to him on his roster has trickled down to some of his out-of-bounds actions. This one looks pretty standard at first glance, but see if you can catch what makes it work so well:

If you missed it, get ready for a slo-mo replay after we break it down, and keep a keen eye on the middle of the floor. Chase Budinger begins the set by streaking from the foul line past a Jordan Hill screen into the strong side corner, but this is a decoy action. C.J. Miles simultaneously moves over to set what appears to be a cross-screen for Monta Ellis to free Monta for a catch, but this is where it gets fun. Watch how Miles and Ellis do the same “spin cycle” reversal as the Warriors above, giving Hill his own extra beat to make his way in their direction before both Hill and Ellis end up screening for Miles as he backs out into an open triple:

Again, this is nothing complex – one decoy action to get eyes moving the wrong way, one extra reversal in the main action, and a lethal volume shooter gets an open three.

Finally, among the NBA’s OGs for creative play-calling is Spurs boss Gregg Popovich. To be totally honest, the 2015-16 iteration of the Spurs has involved less overall creativity on these sets than we might normally be accustomed to from Pop – he’s seemed more focused on entering the ball safely in general, allowing the Spurs to play the grind-it-out halfcourt style they’ve transitioned to on the year.

That doesn’t mean there’s no room for some ingenuity even on these sets, though. On this occasion watch Patty Mills, who starts the play on the strong side baseline – Mills makes as if to accept a pindown screen to the top of the key, but then acts almost as if he’s aborting his cut as the ball is instead inbounded to Manu Ginobili, slowing down as if to reset himself in the corner. But before the Bulls are ready, watch what Mills does next:

Yummy! One would prefer, of course, that Mills ended up behind the three-point line instead of shooting a long two, and the two cross-screens he gets from Spurs bigs could certainly have been better. But the quick action is designed as a way to catch a defense leaning the wrong way and initiate damning rotations, which the Spurs are the class of the league at exploiting. No one will ever out-Pop Pop.

Ben Dowsett is a Deputy Editor and in-depth basketball analyst based in Salt Lake City. He covers the Jazz on a credentialed basis for Basketball Insiders, and has previously appeared in the Sports Illustrated and TrueHoop Networks. He can be found on Twitter at @Ben_Dowsett.

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NBA Daily: Grading The Offseason – Cleveland Cavaliers

Spencer Davies opens Basketball Insiders team-by-team “Grading The Offseason” series with an overview of the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Spencer Davies

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On Monday night in Las Vegas, the 2019 NBA Summer League champions will be crowned. The Minnesota Timberwolves and Memphis Grizzlies are set to square off at the Thomas & Mack Center as the last teams standing over the course of the 10-day period.

Once that winner is determined, the world will be without NBA basketball for quite some time. Though the FIBA World Cup will be fun to watch, it’s not until late September that the association returns for training camp.

In order to hold you over until that date, Basketball Insiders has begun a “Grading The Offseason” series, featuring in-depth analysis on how each franchise has done during this wild summer.

To start things off, we’re going to break down arguably the quietest team of them all regarding roster turnover—the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Overview

It’s no secret that, on the floor, the season didn’t go quite as expected. Following the second departure of LeBron James, the organization felt it had enough remnants of the conference championship team to move forward and compete while developing young talent under head coach Tyronn Lue. A detrimental injury to Kevin Love changed that quickly.

Lue was fired six games into the 2018-19 campaign and then the wheels fell off pretty quickly. Top assistant Larry Drew pushed for a raise to take the interim role, due to the mixed bag inside of the locker room, and he was granted one. But as the losses piled up, the internal battle between the veterans and the younger players grew. Most of the criticism shaded toward upstart rookie Collin Sexton, yet he later proved what he was capable of to some of those teammates later down the road.

There were bright spots when Love re-entered the picture around February and played until late March, as he helped steer the inexperienced youngsters like Sexton, Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic in the direction of winning basketball. When all was said and done, the final record was ugly. However, the energy surrounding the group was clearly in a much more positive light than it had been beforehand.

What shouldn’t be lost in the shuffle is the job Cavaliers’ general manager Koby Altman and his staff did to revamp the team’s salary cap situation. Entering the year with inflated contracts, via veterans that didn’t want to sit through a rebuild, moves had to be made to tighten up the locker room and lower the cap a significant amount. Ultimately, they were successful in doing so.

Cleveland was able to move Kyle Korver, George Hill, Sam Dekker, Rodney Hood and Alec Burks (acquired in the Korver trade) and turned that into Brandon Knight, Matthew Dellavedova, John Henson, Nik Stauskas and a boatload of future draft picks. Altman’s been in asset accumulation mode since he took over during LeBron’s last season, and he’s done wonders with the opportunity to chop down those loud figures on the cap sheet, even adding future capital in the process.

Not only has Altman done a great job in obtaining that, but he’s also turned “good” into “great” often—i.e. turning Korver into Burks which he then flipped for a 2019 first-round pick, using the second-rounders to acquire another first-round pick. Even landing Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson at the 2018 trade deadline to kickstart a new direction was impressive.

Offseason

After parting ways with Drew at season’s end, the Cavaliers set a new course with the hiring of John Beilein in mid-May. Over the span of these past few months, he’s constructed a fresh coaching staff with former Memphis Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff as his associate, University of California women’s head coach Lindsay Gottlieb and five-year Utah Jazz assistant Antonio Lang in complementary roles.

Beilein’s graduate assistant at Michigan, Jay Shunnar, is also a part of the staff. Team favorites Mike Gerrity and Dan Geriot are staying on as well to continue developing the players they’ve worked with.

All in all, the people assembled to take on this task of changing a culture are entrenched in teaching and doing hands-on work. It’s the on-court product with an extremely inexperienced group of coaches—three of which are coming from the collegiate level—that could be a challenge.  Luckily, the process seems to be about a collective group with an open-mindedness that won’t allow for egos to get in the way.

Despite the lottery results going south (Cleveland had the second-best odds in the top three and dropped to five), draft night was a smashing success for the organization. The wine and gold came out with a trio of highly touted rookies—Darius Garland, Dylan Windler and, after trades were officially cleared, Kevin Porter Jr. Adding talents to the roster was the top priority for the front office — today, that stands as the most noise from what’s been a mostly silent offseason.

With a lack of roster spots and an understanding that there would be little money to spend in a chaotic, competitive free-agent market, the Cavaliers have had to stand pat with what they have. JR Smith’s contract had reportedly fielded some offers between NBA Draft Combine time and around the draft, but the team didn’t like the idea of taking back a bad contract. Instead, they found an easier way to get a third pick in the 2019 first round by using the plethora of second-rounders acquired in the past to flip for Porter.

Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com reported Monday that Cleveland plans on waiving and stretching Smith’s contract for $1.4 million each over the next three years. The move will allow the team to stay under the luxury tax, avoid the repeater tax penalty and also provides a full mid-level exception amount at its disposal. Fedor does mention the front office won’t likely use it heading into the season to remain flexible financially and to keep a roster spot open.

Smith not being traded came as a surprise to many, especially knowing the salary relief his previously-grandfathered CBA deal offered to a team searching to clear space for a big free agency offer. The summer moved fast, though, and other franchises with similar predicaments acted quickly. The Cavaliers could’ve facilitated a few trades to get more future draft assets in return, but they didn’t feel like taking on an albatross contract that would’ve been worth paying the extra tax this upcoming season.

The only other real decision to make was whether or not to retain David Nwaba, who, when healthy, displayed flashes of defensive excellence and aggressiveness on the offensive end, Cleveland did not extend the qualifying offer to Nwaba before the deadline, making him an unrestricted free agent. He recently signed with the Brooklyn Nets on a two-year deal.

This move was not so surprising as Basketball Insiders reported at the beginning of June that Nwaba’s representation would be looking for a multi-year deal. A league source said that last summer’s one-year agreement between the Cavaliers and Nwaba was with the understanding that he’d be strictly looking for a newly re-structured multi-year contract with no qualifying offer in his 2019 plans.

The latest addition the franchise made was inking Dean Wade, an undrafted rookie from Kansas State, to a two-way contract. He played in five NBA Summer League games for the organization between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas.

PLAYERS IN: Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, Kevin Porter Jr., Dean Wade (two-way)

PLAYERS OUT: JR Smith, Marquese Chriss, David Nwaba, Channing Frye

What’s Next

Following the waiving of Smith, the Cavaliers roster will be at 13 players. You’d imagine they wouldn’t keep two roster spots open, so seeing a free agent signing or even nabbing a player from a summer league team could be in the cards.

Per Fedor, the franchise will be above the $109 million salary cap by $22 million once the Smith news is made official by the team. It’s a much healthier number than they’ve been at in years past — so, going into next summer, that cap sheet is going to be as clean as it’s been in quite some time.

Cleveland is going to have numerous attractive contracts on its hands as five players on the roster are on deals set to expire following this year. Tristan Thompson ($18.5 million), Brandon Knight ($15.6 million), Jordan Clarkson ($13.4 million), John Henson ($9.7 million) and Matthew Dellavedova ($9.6 million) are all trade chips that Altman can move to stockpile the future even more. Depending on what offers come their way, it could be yet another busy season regarding roster turnover.

There’s plenty of speculation that the team should trade Love to a contender to both satisfy the player and allow the team to get out of his sizable deal. What people are forgetting is that the Cavaliers want to have a championship-caliber player in the locker room as a guiding voice. Remember, this team has one person that is at least the age of 30, and it is the All-Star big man. The next guys up are 28 years old—Henson, Dellavedova and Thompson—and who knows how long they’ll be around.

Cleveland will have to be blown away to take back what it thinks it should receive in return for Love. No deal will be made just to make a deal. The organization values him too much as a person and a player.

On the court, the focus is going to be on player development, mainly in watching how Sexton and Garland play off one another. Different looks and combinations with the frontcourt of Love, Nance Jr., Zizic, Windler and Osman will be available for Beilein to tinker with. A new coaching staff with a freshly enthused group of players should be intriguing to watch.

OFFSEASON GRADE: C-

Stay tuned to the rest of Basketball Insiders “Grading The Offseason” series over the next few weeks.

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NBA Daily: Veterans Influencing Spurs Youngsters

Having NBA veterans that can ease young players into the league can be very helpful, which is why Thomas Robinson and Darius Morris have been nice additions to the Spurs’ summer league roster.

Matt John

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The Summer League is a time for many things.

It’s a time for young players to get a taste of what professional basketball is like. It’s a time for teams to evaluate what young talent they have their roster. Most importantly of all, it’s a time for growth.

The Summer League, whether it be in Salt Lake, Sacramento or Las Vegas, serves as a transition for the new blood. Most are either fresh out of college or just arrived into the country, who are also either just beginning or have recently begun their NBA career. Making that transition isn’t always seamless. As talented as some of these kids are, they are prone to make mistakes. That’s where having a veteran who has been around the block can help.

For this year’s summer league. San Antonio brought in two who fit the profile: Thomas Robinson and Darius Morris.

Morris has bounced around between the NBA and the G League since being drafted 41st overall by the Lakers back in 2011. He’s been around the league long enough that playing in the Summer League wasn’t originally in the plans. That all changed when the Spurs called him.

“They actually reached out to me and told me they were interested,” Morris said. “When an organization like the Spurs calls you, you can come in and show that you can blend in and the high character is going to follow you the rest of the way.”

Robinson has also been a journeyman since being selected sixth overall by the Kings back in 2012. Now that he has found himself on the Spurs, he praised the organization for its player development.

“To even get any type of time under anybody on this staff is helpful for any player,” Robinson said. “Whether it’s summer league, mini-camp, or the real roster, it’s always helpful to learn from these guys. They’re like the Mecca of NBA basketball.”

Not many can say that they are the veteran of a summer league team, but Morris not only has that role but also appears to have embraced it since coming on for the Spurs. So much so that even though he takes that responsibility seriously, he and his teammates can have a laugh about it.

“I joke with the guys that I’m transitioning to that vet stage like a little baby vet,” Morris said. “To be able to extend whatever knowledge to the young guys, and kind of getting me in that mode as opposed to being that guy that was drafted, just transitioning to being a mentor and just helping where I can.”

There are various ways in which those are designated as mentors decide to use their role. Some give very little advice while others give nothing but advice. For Morris, he has implemented a “trial by fire” strategy for his younger teammates.

“First, you want them to go out there and play freely,” Morris said. “You don’t want to give them too much advice at first. You just kind of sit back and just watch… You don’t want to put too many things in their ear. Everything is already going 100 miles per hour for you out there and as they go along, just give my advice as we go along.”

As the other veteran/mentor on the squad, Robinson’s approach is simple on the court – just being himself for the Spurs.

“I’m not trying to show that I can do anything different,” Robinson said. “I just want to show that I’m doing everything that they ask me to do the first time.”

Since coming to San Antonio, Robinson has gotten to know some of the Spurs’ young talent. He even took the time to praise some of the Spurs’ young talent – in particular, one of the Spurs’ most recent first-rounders, Keldon Johnson.

“‘Baby Russ’. That’s what I called him” Robinson said. “He doesn’t get tired. He’s super aggressive… He’s big, athletic. I definitely see the makings of a superstar.”

Both Morris and Robinson are leaving impressions with the younger players on their squad. The Spurs other first-rounder this season, Luka Samanic, spoke highly of what they’ve been able to do for him primarily with how he handles his mistakes.

“If I do one quick mistake in the beginning, then it affects my game later,” Samanic said. “So they’re all about ‘Don’t worry about mistakes. You’ll miss shots. It’s all normal here.’ So they helped me a lot with that.”

Blake Ahearn, who coached the Spurs at the Utah Summer League, praised both Robinson and Morris for the calming influence they have on the team.

“It’s huge,” Ahearn said. “Having some of those calming-presence guys on the floor helps those younger guys… That’s a good luxury for coaches to have.”

Spurs assistant Becky Hammon also heaped praise for the two veterans primarily for what they have been able to do for the Spurs’ young players off the court while also reiterating the value guys like that have on these teams.

“They’ve been talking to them in their ear the whole time about what it takes to be a professional and get opportunities,” Hammon said. “Their leadership on the court, off the court has been very helpful. Obviously, having guys like that in a situation like that is very helpful and invaluable.”

Now, undoubtedly, the goal for Robinson and Morris is to be in the NBA again. They’ve been there before and their willingness to play in the summer league shows that they’re not giving up on their dreams.

Regardless of whether they make it, they can take comfort that, in the end, they positively impacted the Spurs of tomorrow.

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NBA Daily: Carsen Edwards Sending Good Vibrations in Las Vegas

Celtics rookie Carsen Edwards took Las Vegas by storm not only earning a multi-year contract but likely a significant role in Boston this coming season.

Shane Rhodes

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Las Vegas can be a scary place; just ask Carsen Edwards.

“Not to be dramatic, but I really thought I was about to die.”

Edwards, among a number of other players and NBA-related persons, found himself in the midst of two earthquakes – magnitude 6.7 and 7.1 – that rocked southern Nevada and California last week. “I was in my room by myself,” Edwards said, “and I’m on the 16th floor so, right then I’m thinking – and I know this sounds deep – how am I going to survive?”

Fortunately, for Edwards, his days reading about covering online betting odds in the Silver State may be numbered.

While the earthquakes may have shaken Las Vegas, the Purdue University product has sent the Boston Celtics his own good vibrations. Edwards has impressed mightily during his stint with the Summer League Celtics, so much so that, while fellow second-round pick Tremont Waters recently agreed to a two-way deal with Boston, the Celtics have reportedly are negotiating a full-time deal with the Edwards. And, while he has remained humble when questioned about his high-quality play, it’s hard to imagine that Edwards will see much more time in Las Vegas beyond the coming Summer League Tournament.

“My first experience was a blessing, man” Edwards told Basketball Insiders. “I’m so happy to be here, just to have this opportunity and put on that jersey and be out there.”

Edwards, a standout Boilermaker, has been a certified bucket-getter in his short Summer League tenure. Through four games (and two starts), the diminutive combo-guard has averaged 18 points to go along with 2.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and a steal in just 23 minutes per contest. Edwards has gotten to his spots on the floor with ease – when it hasn’t been easy, he’s simply put his head down and bullied his way there – and he certainly hasn’t been afraid to pull up from deep.

Edwards has also come along as a shooter since his last showing in the NCAA tournament. In three seasons with Purdue, Edwards posted field goal and three-point percentages of 41.2% and 36.8%, respectively. Since Edwards has proven himself one of the Summer League’s best and most consistent shooters; he has shot 52% from the floor and 48.4% from three-point range.

“I just try to make the right decisions,” Edwards said. “I just try to get into my space, places where I’m comfortable.”

Despite his relative inexperience against NBA-level competition, a continued ascent for Edwards – and an end to his Summer League career after just his rookie appearance – shouldn’t be put out of the question as players and teams head into next season and beyond.

And, while he may not have wanted to slip into the second round of June’s 2019 NBA Draft, Edwards may have hit the jackpot in landing with Boston.

While Head Coach Brad Stevens has struggled with certain aspects of coaching, he has never had a problem with maximizing the production of his guards. 2011’s Mr. Irrelevant, Isaiah Thomas, was a Most Valuable Player candidate in 2017, while Kyrie Irving, despite the reported unrest, posted arguably the two best statistical seasons of his career with the Celtics. Others, including Avery Bradley, Evan Turner and Jordan Crawford have flourished under his watch, and Edwards may be the next player to benefit from Stevens’ system.

Still, Edwards’ work is far from over, and he knows it. “It’s not the same [as in college],” he said as he pointed out that he still needed to focus on his defense, decisions making and consistency. “I’m still learning so much.”

“I know [the Boston Celtics] just want me to improve. Help the team win, but continue to try and improve and be consistent every game.”

Edwards isn’t the perfect prospect or one without his deficiencies by any means. They have yet to do so in the Summer League, and his strong, stocky build should help counteract this to a degree, but NBA competition will take advantage of Edwards’ 6-foot-flat height. And, if it wasn’t already obvious, Edwards is a score-first, pass later type of guard; while that necessarily isn’t a bad thing, given the role he should serve with the Celtics, Edwards’ passing ability must improve as he transitions to the NBA game.

“[NBA players] are more athletic, they have more length,” Edwards said. “Playing against those guys, it’s tough.”

As Edwards pointed out, it will, in fact, be tough for him. But, between the roster and coaching fit and his own talent, it’s as if everything has started to come together for the talented guard and it is there for the taking.

After his debut, Edwards noted his primary Summer League goal was to win. “I just want to make an impact on the team and just help us win,” Edwards said.

Should he take advantage of what’s in front of him, Edwards has the chance to be something special in the NBA, and he could help the Celtics do just that for a long time.

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