Mfiondu Kabengele shoots against the Golden State Warriors during Boston’s Summer League game Tuesday in Las Vegas. John Locher/Associated Press

LAS VEGAS — Mfiondu Kabengele has been waiting his turn to get back into the NBA for a full year.

The 2019 first-round pick by the Clippers has already bounced between four NBA teams in three seasons and spent the entire 2021-22 season in the G League with Houston’s affiliate.

The 24-year-old center arrived at Boston’s Summer League camp with hopes of earning an opportunity, and while the majority of the buzz around a big man was for Trevion Williams, Kabengele has stood out from the pack during the first three games in Las Vegas.

The 6-foot-10 big man has posted two straight double-doubles for Boston’s surprisingly high-powered offense in Las Vegas and did more than hold his own against recent lottery pick James Wiseman on Tuesday night. His contributions helped Boston earn an upset win over a Golden State team full of lottery talent

“They have a good team, they’ve played well so far, and it was a good test for us to go out and it was fun to watch (Mfiondu) and James,” Celtics Summer League Coach Ben Sullivan said. “It was a good time.”

Team president Brad Stevens has been open about the Celtics’ desire to add another bench reserve at center along with Luke Kornet, and league sources have hinted that Boston may target a younger player in the Summer League for that role if they don’t land someone via trade. Kabengele has clearly put his hat in the race, given his all-around contributions this week.


He’s dwarfed his Summer League numbers from last year in similar playing time, posting 16.3 points and 10 rebounds per game, and he leads all players in Summer League with 4.3 offensive rebounds per game. Using his hustle on the glass isn’t the only part of his game that’s stood out. Kabengele has shown decent touch from 3-point range (37.5 percent on three attempts per game) and even has chipped in with his passing with 3.6 assists per game.

His size at 6-foot-10 doesn’t make him an imposing shot blocker at center, but he’s been the far superior defender compared to Williams.

“I think he’s been phenomenal,” Sullivan said. “He’s been a beast on the boards. He’s had some tremendous verticality where he’s just getting so big and athletic around the rim, showing his hands, blocking shots. He’s knocked down a couple of 3s, he’s finishing lobs around the rim, he’s doing everything that we’ve asked of him. So I think he’s played really phenomenal.”

Kabengele has one more year of two-way contract eligibility available, so he could be brought into camp to compete for that slot or a 15-man roster spot. However, it would not be a surprise to see him land an Exhibit 10 contract with Boston, which would give him a chance to beat out Kornet and other potential new additions for a roster spot in training camp. The Celtics could also waive him and try to keep his G League rights to develop more in Maine if he doesn’t find a better offer stateside or overseas.

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