It was in April when I tweeted about some kid from the The University of California who came off the bench for the Celtics with a firey style of play. The game was vs the Chicago Bulls and I instantly became a fan of Jabari Bird. If you check out the highlights, you’ll see a quick flashy guard who finishes well at the hoop. He can throw it down and if left open enough, knock down the J. But why is nobody talking about this dude?
Photo credit: usatoday.com
Well, 8.8 MPG to go along with 3 PPG isn’t going to get you on SportsCenter. However, he did shoot 57% on all attempts, so there’s that right? Admittedly, he didn’t play much in the 2017-2018 campaign to get a great look, but if you’ve been following the Summer League, I wouldn’t sleep on Jaylen Browns old college teammate. Here’s why.
Jabari Bird History Lesson
At 6’6” and 190 lbs, Bird was a 4-star ESPN recruit from the class of 2013. Not only did he lead his high school team to an overall 100-8 record, Jabari was also named to the McDonald’s High School All-American game and was scouted as the No. 20 overall recruit in his class. He didn’t perform great in the game, but did show flashes of his hops and energy. Bird appeared to have stepped it up a bit and improved his game in his four years of college.
From 2013 to 2017, Jabari Bird was ballin’ out from the get-go. Having played with Jaylen Brown, he took a backseat to scoring, but soon afterwards took off. His ball handling and floor control was clearly what needed the most attention, but he could score. Just check out these numbers from Birds time in college:
Photo credit: californiagoldenblogs.com
11 – 10+ point games/ 2 – 20+ point games
11 – 10+ point games/ 1 – 20+ point game
21 – 10+ point games/ 4 – 20+ point games
20 – 10+ point games/ 8 – 20+ point games
Ending with 1,227 career points and finishing fifth all-time in Cal’s history in 3PM (187), Bird led the team in scoring in his final year with the Bears. Unfortunately, his team didn’t make the NCAA tournament in his last year, so the focus switched to trying to get on an NBA squad with a summer full of workouts and pre-draft screenings. Scouting report reading being athletic and having a decent shot, shot section and ball handling were hit points for some teams. Come draft night at pick 56, Danny Ainge made the call to select another Bird to wear Boston threads.
Maine Lobstah to a Bahston Celtic
With being drafted, Jabari’s contract was two-way, which means he spends time with the NBAs team G-league affiliate, but not more than 45 days with the NBA team. This is to get players accustomed to the NBA life and style of play – a pseudo farm system. With that said, Jabari’s time with the Maine Red Claws, the C’s G league affiliate, was not wasted. He started in the 20 games, averaging 19.3 PPG in 35.2 MPG, continuing the sweet shooting he was known for. Adding to his resume, Bird was selected as an all-star for the G-League All-Star game before being called to Boston. So far, pretty impressive.
Photo credit: Pressherald.com
Swinging back around to April, Bird made five appearances sporadically until the game versus Chicago on the 6th. In that game, he played 24 minuets, shot 7/10 (70%), 1/2 (50%) from 3, and finished with 15pts, 3ast, and 3rbs. There were slashes to the rim, shots falling, and a few dunks thrown down that got Tommy and Mike out of their seats.
From that day, I knew he was special. He ended up with 9pts and 5rbs the next game, but you didn’t hear much about him after that. Why? A deep roster with a deeper bench will do that. Plus, he needed time to develop in the G-league. But have you seen him this summer?
Time To Leave The Nest?
Summer League hoops is pretty entertaining if you’re into following players, progression, story lines and good old round ball. Sometime you get a few competive games and get to check out the talent.
Enter the young Boston Celtics. With a team already filled to the brim with talent, the summer league unit showed no less. Yabu, Semi, Bird, and Williams were straight up mashing.
Reaching the Summer League quarter finals, the Celtics fell to the Dallas Mavericks, but that didn’t stop Bird from showing out. Jabari led the team with 16.8 PPG on 57% shooting, 6 RPG, and 3 APG. It’s clear he can get the ball in the bucket, but what’s his value to the team at the moment? With the signing of Smart, it leaves less seats on the bench at his position and more of a reason for Jabari to spread his wings elsewhere.
You might not know the name now, but if you’re a die hard you might be familiar with the thoroughbred scorer who can add a layer to the bench if utilized correctly. It’ll certainly be tough to spread minuets, and you would hate to see a talent like Bird suffocate in the G-League. So what do you do? Do you trade him? A perfect scenario for a sneaky GM would be to low-ball Boston and get a gem. Or do you keep him, and see how next year pans out? Either way, keep an eye on this Jabari Bird fella, especially if he continues to play for the green and white.