Celtics Player Preview: R.J. Hunter
|09.18.16 at 10:11 am ET|
With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.
36 games with the Celtics: 8.8 minutes, 2.7 points, 36.7% FG, 0.4 assists, 1.0 rebounds, 0.4 steals
The expectations were a bit higher than the production for R.J. Hunter in his rookie season after he was drafted with the 28th overall pick by the Celtics in the 2015 draft. He spent a stint in the D-League during the middle of the season, which proved to be beneficial, but never found a way to get meaningful minutes at the NBA level. In fairness, he never quite gave Brad Stevens a reason to give him quality minutes. When the 22-year-old was on, however, he showed exactly what president of basketball operations Danny Ainge sees in him. He showed the ability to shoot with some consistency and be a reliable option off the bench for some spot-up shooting, but it was not often that he did that.
Projected role in 2016-17
Should he make the roster, he would be an end-of-the-bench guy who would be relied on for perimeter shooting. His defense is not stellar, but he would be more than serviceable at the two in order to give Avery Bradley rest while still give the C’s the threat of shooting from deep on the floor.
His shooting has been harped on enough already, and that’s because he has the ability to pull from deep with spot-on accuracy. If he finds the form he did in college, there should be no reason for him not to make the roster given the team’s perimeter shooting situation. In essence, the more he can hone in on that strength, the more of a case he makes for himself not only to make the roster but also be utilized more frequently as a non-garbage time option off the bench.
Hunter’s inconsistency is what got him banished to the D-League last season, and if it continues this year it likely would produce a result of him missing the roster or being relegated to Maine once again. He shot a mere 30.2 percent from 3 and a not much better 36.7 percent from the field, and month-to-month his shooting percentages were all over the place. As intense of a chase as making the final 15 will be, reliability will be looked upon much more favorably than a boom-or-bust type player.
Likelihood of making final 15
60/40 in favor of cracking the squad
This training camp could not be anymore critical for Hunter. As mentioned before, if he hits shots the way he’s capable of, there would be no reason for him not to make this roster — especially with the lack of shooting on this team. Should he flounder in camp, though, he may have to find his way back to the Celtics via the D-League.
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