Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

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Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by bobheckler on Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:36 am

Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Posted: Jul 11, 2017

By Marc D'Amico |  @Marc_DAmico

July 11, 2017

LAS VEGAS – The Boston Celtics have been busy this offseason making large-scale moves to reconstruct their roster – moves that will likely lead to the team relying heavily on young prospects next season.

Brad Stevens, who watched the Summer Celtics play in Utah and has arrived in Las Vegas to watch the team this week, is well aware of that fact.

Many of the players who are currently playing for Boston’s entry to the NBA Summer League in Vegas will be asked to be contributors to next season’s team, which is considered by many to be a title contender. That’s a unique scenario which has led to Stevens watching these games a bit differently than he has in the past.

“I’m kind of looking at it from a different lens,” Stevens told reporters following Tuesday’s win over Philadelphia. “Obviously these guys are being asked to do a lot, but we’re looking at it for what translates.”

None of the players on this Summer League team will be asked to be Boston’s go-to scoring threat during the regular season. Instead, they will be asked to be role players who excel in particular areas of the game. As such, Stevens is looking for the skills he will be able to put to use while the C’s grind through 82 regular season games and, hopefully, a lengthy playoff run.

One player who has stood out in that regard is Semi Ojeleye, whom the Celtics chose with the 37th overall pick in last month’s NBA Draft. Ojeleye has played to his strengths – 3-point shooting and defense – throughout Summer League and has shown Stevens that he could be a legitimate piece of the rotation next season.

“I think what he’s doing translates,” Stevens said of the 6-foot-7 forward who is built like a defensive end.

“His flexibility defensively is going to be enormous. think that he will compete to be one of our better defenders right out of the gate.”

Ojeleye isn’t the only prospect who will be asked to contribute to next season’s team and who has also shown flashes of strong play during Summer League. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum and Ante Zizic also drew strong reviews from the coach, who has watched all of the team’s games either in person, on television or through a film session.

Brown has played well at the offensive end of the court while showcasing smooth moves with the ball in his hand. Defensively, however, is where he’s looking to improve the most.

Brown recently told reporters that Stevens has asked him to be prepared to defend both point guards and shooting guards next season. He has used much of his time on the court during Summer League to work on those abilities.

“He’s just a guy that can do that, and the more positions that he can guard, the more flexible we can be,” said Stevens.

Coincidentally – or maybe not so much – fellow No. 3 pick Tatum has also left Stevens thinking about defense. Tatum has been excellent on offense, as he entered today’s play leading the NBA Summer League in isolation scoring efficiency, but his length and rebounding have been difference-makers at the defensive end of the court.

“I’m really encouraged by his defensive play,” Stevens commented. “And that’s something that, with his length, and ultimately as he builds more strength, should be a positive.”

Zizic has had a bit more difficult time acclimating himself to the Celtics than Tatum or Ojeleye have. Stevens believes the root of those issues is the fact that Zizic is “gassed” from finishing his European season, which ended in early June, and then coming to the US in late-June to begin practicing in Boston.

Still, Zizic has made a positive impression, most notably with his 12-point, 13-rebound double-double Tuesday night during only 17-plus minutes of action. It was the second straight game during which Zizic appeared to be truly comfortable on the court and in his surroundings.

Stevens believes that Zizic’s play has improved due in large part to the improvement of the players around him.

“I thought part of Ante’s struggles in the first few games were because we were putting him in bad spots,” said Stevens. “I talked to the team a little bit when I got here about – if Ante’z got his guy sealed on the block, we need to throw him the ball. If Ante’s rolling to the rim, don’t throw it at his ankles, put it up in the air.”

The team has been doing so the last two games, and it’s no surprise that Zizic’s play has simultaneously improved.

He hasn’t been the only one improving; it has felt as if the Celtics as a whole have improved with each game they have played over the course of the last eight days. Ojeleye has gotten better. Brown has gotten better. Tatum has gotten better. Zizic has gotten better.

That’s exactly what the Celtics want and need to see, because those four, and likely even more young prospects, could be called upon to be key contributors to the team once the 2017-18 regular season begins.

MY NOTE:  Maybe they're showing they're ready for camp, where they will play against full-grown men who know far more about the game than they do and FAR more than the kids they are showing off against now.  Hate to be a Debbie Downer, but the overwhelming majority of summer league players are on the bubble of being on the camp invitee bubble, where they will be on the bubble of making the team, where they will be on the bubble of getting off the bench for anything more than garbage time.  Brad said that Zizic is "gassed" from playing his season and then coming here to workout for summer league?  How about Jaylen Brown and Demetrius Jackson, didn't they play full seasons and then come to practice and play summer league?  Didn't all of the players in summer league either play a full NCAA or international league season before coming here?  He's new to US style basketball, I got it, but the "he's gassed" explanation doesn't make sense to me and, if it isn't because he's gassed, then it's because he is experiencing a learning curve and that is what will slow him down this season.  He's 20 years old and has been playing professionally, against men, for a few years now.  He isn't gassed.  Unless you're Larry Bird or Magic or such, your rookie year will have plenty of rough edges and spotty performances.  That is why the top teams competing for championships don't carry a lot of rookies and young'uns.


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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by beat on Wed Jul 12, 2017 7:58 am


not going to argue anything you wrote esp about Zizic but did you really expect Coach Stevens to throw him under a bus? He's 20 and this isn't a military boot camp where one is torn down then built up. And who knows what is said to him behind closed doors.

Personally I like what I see from him so far. Not going to play any huge minutes when it matters probably but he has a nose for rebounds which we are sorely lacking.

Time will tell.....always does.


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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by wideclyde on Wed Jul 12, 2017 8:44 am


Good points, but as Beat mentioned, we should not expect Stevens not to find something good to say about any kid on his team. It is not his style to rip any of his players in public, and such a way of doing things is seemingly very appreciated by his players.

Perhaps Zizic has not yet caught up with the time zone changes?


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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by mulcogiseng on Wed Jul 12, 2017 11:34 am

Hate to disagree with you Bob, but I think you love being Debbie Downer.

I think your reaction to the "gassed" statement is absurd.

Tatum is on record as being gassed by a simple back to back. Only understandable, he didn't play many of those in college. His season ended in March, why hasn't he recovered?

Brown and Jackson finished their season in May. But they look gassed at times too.

No, Bob, I don't think so. Zizic played from Asia Minor to Europe last season. He barely took any time off to let his body recover before he is travelling half way around the world to start playing again.

Any athlete knows that if you take a couple of weeks off it takes awhile to get back in game shape.

On a more convivial note: He is indeed experiencing a learning curve. That, combined with only having a couple of weeks off, has impacted Zizic. As was mentioned on another thread, he is getting his second wind. He is playing better and producing more. Which is exactly what I said would happen after all the boo bird activity of the first few games.

So no worries Debbie, we love you and all you bring to the table, even when we disagree!

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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by KyleCleric on Wed Jul 12, 2017 12:19 pm

Other than Brown, he played twice as many games than the others on the team. It's also the 3rd different team and league he's been on in 8 months


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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by NYCelt on Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:36 pm

I'm not a huge fan of what we've seen from Zizic so far, and I don't see much of an NBA career for him.  I'll give him this much though; considering his travels and league changes, he could be "gassed."  Downright toasty as a matter of fact.  I don't know about anyone else here, but I was usually pretty crisp by the end of a baseball, football or boxing season, and I didn't play at anywhere near the level of the pros.  Except for college years, I, or any of us, probably played within one state.  In college, I never had to travel farther than the Northeast or Mid-West.  In comparison, Zizic has played a full season at a pro level, and changed leagues, time zones and continents.  If Zizic were to play a more limited, or even stateside schedule in the G-league, we might get a better gauge, and my opinion could change too.

As for young prospects like Brown, Tatum and Ojeleye, it's a different story.  Summer league doesn't show much, but to various degrees, these three are proverbial layups to contribute.  Brown has already shown he belongs.  Tatum did far more than enough in the NCAA ranks to leave little doubt about an NBA career.  It will be shocking if he isn't schooling more than a few vets in short order.  Ojeleye probably has the biggest adjustment to make, and could end up spending time in the G-League, but I think has the potential to develop enough to see some NBA minutes as early as this season.

The article doesn't say anything about Jackson, who may have some chance of sticking come late October.

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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by red16russ11 on Wed Jul 12, 2017 3:47 pm

I also saw no mention of Nader, who has also played well

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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by dboss on Wed Jul 12, 2017 4:06 pm

i think the message here is obvious.

Brown, Tatum, Zizic and probably Semi will be on our 15 man roster.


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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

Post by wideclyde on Thu Jul 13, 2017 12:45 pm


I have also noticed that Nader has not gotten much mention even though he does seem to be playing well again this summer. He has played well enough to get invited to pre season camp, don't you think?

Wonder what the Cs brass is really thinking on this kid? Even though he is an inch shorter than Mickey he seems to fit the small ball brand of NBA offense that we see so much of this year. He is certainly not going to be difficult or expensive to sign.


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Re: Key Prospects Showing Stevens They're Ready

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