Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Jordan Mickey. For a look at the other profiles, click here.
BOSTON – Jordan Mickey admittedly came to Boston with a chip on his shoulder.
Selected by Boston with the 33rd overall pick, Mickey felt he should have been a first-round pick.
The Celtics felt the same way.
That's why they signed the 6-foot-9 forward from LSU to a four-year, $5 million contract, a deal that made his annual average salary higher than fellow rookie R.J. Hunter, who was taken in the first round by Boston with the 28th overall pick.
While Mickey landed a deal comparable to what a player selected in the first round would make, he still has to prove that he’s more than just a player with potential.
The ceiling for Mickey: Regular rotation
Mickey didn't have the kind of breakout summer that he and the Celtics were hoping for, primarily because of a left shoulder injury that limited his availability.
Mickey did not play for Boston's summer league entry in Salt Lake City because of the injury, but did see action with the Celtics' summer league squad in Las Vegas.
He appeared in five games, averaging 9.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 25 minutes, to go with 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Mickey also shot 56.3 percent from the field.
It was a decent showing, but for Mickey to have the kind of continued growth both he and the Celtics are seeking, he’ll need to become a more consistent defender in addition to continuing to expand his offensive game.
Like most big men in the NBA, Mickey is doing his best to show that he can help space the floor with his perimeter shooting that extends beyond the 3-point line.
It was something you saw him work during pregame shootarounds with the assistant coaches. In summer league, Mickey was 1-for-3 on 3s.
But Mickey understands he is in the NBA because of what he can do defensively and around the rim. He was the nation's leader in blocked shots per game (3.6) in his final year at LSU.
And it was among the many areas in which Mickey stood out this past season in his time with the Celtics' Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.
Of course, college and D-League success don’t always result in similar results in the NBA.
But when it comes to Mickey, he has shown himself capable of doing some impressive feats defensively in a very small and limited role in the NBA.
Although he only appeared in 16 NBA games as a rookie, Mickey was the only player who held opponents to less than 50 percent shooting in the restricted area (48.9 percent), in the non-restricted area in the paint (46.2 percent) and mid-range (44.4).
In addition, opponents shot 16.7 and 18.8 percent from the left corner on 3s and above-the-break 3s, respectively.
Mickey finding a way to continue improving as an offensive player while providing the same level of play defensively will go far in him solidifying a place for himself in the Celtics’ regular rotation.
The floor for Mickey: Roster spot
The Celtics have too many players in training camp and someone with guaranteed money has to go, but don’t look for it to be Jordan Mickey. The Celtics didn’t sign him to a four-year deal worth end-of-the-first-round money to not at least see what he can do given more of an opportunity to play. He spent most of his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws.
And his time there was indeed well spent.
He appeared in 23 games for the Red Claws and was named a D-League all-star before finishing the season averaging a double-double of 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds along with a league-best 4.4 blocks per game. In addition to shooting 53.1 percent from the field, Mickey showed he had some range as well while connecting on 35 percent of his 3-point shots.
Mickey has shown the kind of promise that the Celtics want to see more of before making a decision on his long-term future.
That is why worst-case scenario for Mickey this season, barring him being traded, is for him to be another available body on the Celtics bench.