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Bucks vs. Celtics Preview: Milwaukee Gets First Look At Jared Sullinger And Fab Melo

2012 Vegas Summer League

2-1 2-1
July 21, 2012
Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas
9:30 PM CT
TV: Broadband
Probable starters:
Aaron Miles PG Jamar Smith
Doron Lamb SG Dionte Christmas
Tobias Harris SF Kris Joseph
John Henson PF Jared Sullinger
Larry Sanders (?) C Fab Melo
On the Celtics: Celtics Blog / Red's Army / Celtics Hub

Jared Sullinger famously (OK, not that famously) didn't seem interested in the Bucks during the pre-draft process, while Fab Melo worked out in Milwaukee and seemed to impress the Bucks brass to the point that I was vaguely worried that they might actually reach for him with their lottery selection. In the end the Bucks passed on both in favor of John Henson at #14, allowing the Celtics to snap up Sullinger and Melo with the 21st and 22nd picks, respectively. I'm not sure if that makes for a terribly compelling plotline for tonight's Bucks/Celtics summer league matchup in Las Vegas (short answer: probably not), but it's never too early to rationalize/second guess draft decisions, right?

Who plays this weekend? Tobias Harris has done enough to earn the rest of the weekend off--see Kawhi Leonard and Klay Thompson--but Jim Paschke reports that Harris and Doron Lamb were still among the players taking part in an optional practice on Friday. Larry Sanders had a forgettable two games before sitting out Thursday's win, so my assumption is that he's probably done for the week, though my guess is that Doron Lamb sees action over the weekend.

Lee arrives, youngsters depart. The Celtics are 2-1 in Vegas and also took four of five in Orlando, though their Vegas roster got a makeover when JaJuan Johnson, E'twuan Moore and Sean Williams were sent to Houston as part of the Courtney Lee sign-and trade.

Sully and Fab. The summer league constants remain Sullinger and Melo, though it's been a decidedly mixed bag in terms of the past week for the newest Celtics. Sullinger has been a beast on the boards (10.3 rpg) and drawn plenty of fouls, but he's shot just 27% and scored 8.3 ppg in Vegas after 40% and 13.8 ppg and in Orlando. My guess is that he'll probably be a good pro either way, but our limited sample of the past couple weeks has also reiterated concerns about his ability to score effectively against NBA(ish) defenders. Meanwhile, Melo has played surprisingly little (15.8 mpg) while converting just 29% of his shots; I won't claim to know why he hasn't played more, but we know from his college career that he has a history of not being able to stay on the court (encouraging!).

Youngsters impressing. Look long and hard enough and you'll find encouraging signs from virtually any talented youngster in Vegas, but thankfully you haven't had to dig too deep for silver linings from Harris and John Henson. The intrepid Zach Lowe at SI rounds up the best of the youngsters and reserves special praise for Henson and particularly Harris:

He lit the Wizards up for 24 points and 12 boards, and absolutely bullied Chris Singleton (a bit of a disappointment in Vegas) on the block when the two second-year combo forwards were matched up. Boylan told that Harris has lost weight in the offseason, and that the post game that looked effective in flashes last season should be a weapon this year when Harris serves as a small forward. "He worked his ass off this summer," Boylan told "When he puts the wood to someone on the block, they feel it."

While we're accentuating the positive, also be sure to check out Scott Schroeder's review of Henson's debut earlier this week over at Ridiculous Upside.