Though Abdel Nader, the 58th pick in last year’s NBA draft, has yet to play a game for the Celtics, he may be one of their most prized assets.
Relatively unknown when he was selected out of Iowa State last June, Nader showed flashes of potential in summer league, and flourished during his first season with the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics’ D-League affiliate. He was named the D-League’s Rookie of the Year after averaging 21.3 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.9 assists this year, but he has his sights on something more.
“The NBA’s obviously always been my dream,” Nader said in a recent interview with The Des Moines Register. “I want to make it. Hopefully everything I’ve done has proven that I’m ready.”
While he had hoped to make the Celtics roster this season, the 6-foot-8 swingman opted to develop in Maine rather than head overseas like many second-rounders.
Celtics fans should know not to underestimate the contributions of late-round draft picks, as Isaiah Thomas was selected as the final pick in the 2011 NBA draft.
Nader made the most of his opportunity with the Red Claws, leading the team in scoring in 16 games, securing a spot on the D-League All-Star team, and helping his team capture the second seed in the Eastern Conference.
In an interview with the Pioneer Press, Red Claws coach Scott Morrison heaped praise on Nader, whom he believes has a shot to make the Celtics roster next season.
“He’s dynamic,” Morrison said. “He can shoot off the catch, but if he sees the open man he gives him the shot. He is constantly getting better, improving his defense as well as his shooting.”
The 23-year-old showcased his versatility this season as well, acting as Maine’s primary ball-handler for much of the year. Though he played little point guard in high school or college, Nader stepped up. His newfound skills as a floor general, combined with 35 percent shooting from 3-point range, only serve to make him a more viable option for Celtics brass to consider when constructing the roster next season.
The former Cyclones standout has already caught the eye of experts around the league, as he finished the year ranked as the No. 2 prospect in the D-League.
James Young, Gerald Green and Jonas Jerebko are all free agents this summer, which opens the door for Nader to move up the depth chart, but his fate will likely lie in how well he performs in summer league and training camp.
Based off his performance in his first professional season, Celtics director of scouting Dave Lewin wouldn’t be surprised to see Nader on the Garden’s parquet floor sooner rather than later.
“We think that this year has been great for Abdel,” Lewin said in March. “Everybody’s seen that he has a lot of potential. If he can build on it, he’s got a great chance to be an NBA player and contribute to the Celtics in the near future.”
Full article @ What did 2016 Celtics draft pick Abdel Nader do this past season?
Source: GreenStreet Blog