Craig Brackins at work for the Celtics in Orlando.LAS VEGAS -- The Boston Celtics' summer league team, as a whole, took a tremendous hit on Thursday with the departures of E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson, and Sean Williams. The importance of team has been stressed this entire week in Vegas, and while the remaining players will still vie for wins on Saturday and Sunday as summer league wraps up, there might be a noticeable shift towards the importance of individuals still gunning for NBA contracts and training camp invites.
The silver linings to the trade for Courtney Lee that ended Moore's, Johnson's, and Williams' summer with the C's reside with the players who, up until Thursday, hadn't received any significant minutes as part of a dominant Boston team that had posted a 6-1 record up to that point.
Craig Brackins was perhaps the biggest beneficiary of the departures, as the versatile 6-foot-10 forward, who had only cracked the 10-minute barrier once all summer, played a summer-league high 25 minutes on Thursday, putting in 14 points, another high for the summer, on 6-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-5 from 3-point nation.
"We were short on guys and I was asked to play a lot of minutes, and everybody on the bench was ready," Brackins said after. "I think we played well with the short hand of guys, so I think it was a productive day. We fought hard and never quit."
Brackins said his goal throughout the entire summer league campaign has been to show how diverse his game can be.
"Just my versatility, the ability to rebound, go to the basket, space out and shoot on the perimeter, the long three, too," Brackins said of what he's been trying to display. "Basically just being a versatile player so I can get put at multiple positions."
That versatility was on display for much of Thursday's game, as Brackins scored his first bucket on a strong left wing drive that resulted in a contested layup on the left block. Brackins later stepped outside to bury both of his 3-pointers, including a straightaway bomb in the final minutes that helped to spark a late Boston rally. Brackins also managed to mirror his first drive to the basket with a strong take on the right side that saw him rise up at the rim for a loud dunk. He said afterwards it took a few minutes to adjust to playing so many more minutes, but he eventually settled into a steady rhythm and emerged as one of Boston's only solid sources of offense.
"It's a little tough, wind-wise, but we're all basketball players, so you get your rhythm and you play hard and you kind of just get adjusted," Brackins said afterwards of playing more.
Brackins should continue to receive steady minutes as he'll seek to use the Celtics' final two games this weekend to make a last pitch to both Boston and the other teams in Las Vegas that he deserves a shot at the NBA next season.