LAS VEGAS -- Boston Celtics guard Jabari Bird had a friend courtside for his matchup against the Charlotte Hornets at Las Vegas Summer League on Monday: Celtics wing Jaylen Brown.
"He's Hollywood now," Bird said, smiling. "He doesn't have to play. He's been traveling the world and whatnot."
Brown, apparently, is absolutely not too Hollywood to play in Summer League. He was also happy to catch his former Cal teammate as he continued to make his case to be on Boston's roster full time this year. Bird was on a two-way contract last year, but he played well enough down the stretch to make some wonder whether he would supplant a member of Boston's full-time roster to be a part of the playoff roster. He didn't, but he has an even better opportunity this offseason, as Boston shakes up the bottom of its roster.
But Bird has a chance to play for more than just an end-of-the-bench role. In three Summer League games, he has consistently been the best player on the court -- showing excellent athleticism and a great basketball IQ as a cutter.
Bird cuts backdoor so frequently, he believes he's taking other opportunities away from himself.
"Sometimes I think I might cut too much and cut myself out of threes," he said. "That's something I probably have to work on. It's really just the feel for the game."
Still, Celtics Summer League coach Jay Larranaga told reporters after the game that Bird is a "terrific" shooter. On Monday, Bird showed flashes of that range -- burying both of his 3-point attempts en route to 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting.
Larranaga was asked again about Bird's shooting after the game.
"The thing I like is not about his shot -- he's a consistent worker," Larranaga said. "He's playing all facets of the game right now. He's playing pick-and-roll, he's attacking the rim, he's taking the three when it's given to him, he's cutting. He defended at a vert high level tonight. J.P. Macura has been playing at a very high level, and Jabari did an excellent job on him of not giving any leak-outs, back cuts or open threes."
"Coming into it, I was known as a shooter," Brd added. "I've always been comfortable shooting 3s and making jump shots. I just try to take what the defense gives me. Most of the time, I find myself going for layups and dunks. Today, they were sagging off, so I tried to make them pay a little bit."
If Bird's shot becomes consistent, he will be very hard to stop on the offensive end. His cutting is amplified by his athleticism -- he can leap and hover in the air long enough to finish around the rim after his defender drops back to the ground. On Monday, he scored off the bounce as well -- operating out of the pick-and-roll and finding teammates for five assists.
"I'm just displaying all my skills out there," Bird said. "The game before, it was all the back cuts and my athleticism. Today, it was the pick-and-roll play and my jump shot. Just trying to display the full package."
Bird is a restricted free agent this offseason, so the Celtics can match any offer he receives. If he keeps playing at the level he's demonstrated so far, however, Boston might not be the only team interested in making an offer.
"Everybody here at Summer League has to be impressed with how he's playing," Larranga said. "He just has to continue to do it. I think he will because he works every day."
That includes Brown, even if he doesn't want to admit it.
"He said he was surprised at the dunks the other day," Bird said. "He should know better."