Celtics ‘perfect situation’ for German forward Daniel Theis

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Celtics ‘perfect situation’ for German forward Daniel Theis

Post by bobheckler on Sat Sep 09, 2017 3:28 pm

http://www.bostonglobe.com/sports/celtics/2017/08/03/celtics-perfect-situation-for-german-forward-daniel-theis/iqOevUPG6F3sYvucKcMfDN/story.html



Celtics ‘perfect situation’ for German forward Daniel Theis




Celtics coach Brad Stevens will have 16 players in camp under guaranteed contracts, so German forward Daniel Theis might have to earn his spot.
CHARLES KRUPA/ASSOCIATED PRESS



By Adam HimmelsbachGLOBE STAFF



AUGUST 3, 2017



On June 11, Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge sat in the stands in a lively arena in Germany as Brose Bamberg defeated Oldenburg to capture its third straight title in the Basketball Bundesliga, the country’s top professional league.

Confetti fell over the players standing near midcourt and “We Are The Champions” blared before a champagne celebration was uncorked in the locker room.

Ainge was there to watch 6-foot-9-inch forward Daniel Theis, who had 8 points and 13 rebounds in Brose Bamberg’s win. The Celtics had been tracking the 25-year-old German for nearly six years, including frequent visits in recent seasons from their lead European scout, Benas Matkevicius, who is based just a two-hour train ride away in Berlin.


Theis knew Matkevicius was an NBA scout, but initially he did not know which team he represented. He also did not know that Matkevicius was there mostly to see him, and that he was constantly reporting back to the Celtics’ brass in Boston.

Ainge had seen Theis play numerous times, too, and his arrival in June was significant. He waited to talk to the forward after Brose Bamberg won the title that night, but the festivities were lingering. So Ainge ultimately left the arena and the two exchanged text messages instead.

Ainge indicated that the Celtics were interested, and within about a week Theis had agreed to a two-year, minimum-salary deal that would be fully guaranteed in the first season.

Boston could not sign any free agents until after the league-wide free agency moratorium was lifted on July 6. And because the Celtics were in the midst of a dizzying summer in which they would add 10 new players, Theis would have to wait even longer for his deal to be finalized. These delays are common in the NBA, where salary-cap limitations lead to creative ordering of deals. But they are uncommon overseas, so Theis was a bit uneasy at first.

“I’m not used to it,” Theis said in a telephone interview from Germany. “In Europe, if somebody gives their word about a contract, it’s not always 100 percent certain. So sometimes they tell you one day we might sign you, or that they will sign you, and the next day they say no.”


Players can be inked to minimum-salary deals at any time, so Boston waited until it had already completed most of its other moves and gone over the cap before officially signing Theis on July 20.


“I think now, for me, is the perfect time,” Theis said. “It’s a perfect situation for me, especially with Brad Stevens as a coach and how the team developed over the last couple of years, from when they got better every year. You can tell just from watching the games it was great team chemistry and everybody was fighting for each other.”

Theis grew up in Salzgitter, a city in the heart of Germany with a population of about 100,000. He was focused on soccer as a child and did not start playing organized basketball until he was 15. He was long and lanky and learned the game by watching and playing with his brother, Frank, who was 10 years older.

He joined the Basketball Bundesliga in 2010, spending much of the year on the league’s development squad before quickly advancing to the top tier.

In 2013-14, Theis played for the German team Ratiopharm Ulm. That year one of his American teammates, forward Matt Howard, could not stop gushing about Stevens, his former coach at Butler University.

“He said he knows basketball,” Theis said. “He knows how to handle players and talk to players and that he’s a really calm guy and knows what he expects from players. He has this great basketball plan, what he wants to do. It’s funny that he is going to be my coach now.”

That July, Theis played for the Washington Wizards’ summer league team in Las Vegas, averaging 6.6 points and 6 rebounds per game. His performance did not result in an NBA contract, but the Celtics remained intrigued.

Theis initially caught Boston’s eye while playing for Germany at the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championships in 2011. The Celtics watched him develop into a long, athletic, and versatile defender who was also capable of drilling long-range shots.

“As a youngster, he was just kind of a skinny kid with a little bit of bounce, and that was about it,” Ainge said. “He’s just slowly gotten better. He’s improved every year and moved up levels in Europe. He contributed at a very high level.”

In recent years Theis worked tirelessly with Brose Bamberg’s shooting coach, who pored over film with him and taught small nuances, such as jumping off his entire foot when he shoots rather than just his toes.

This past season the forward made a career-high 41 percent of his 3-pointers in Euroleague play, and he was also named the Bundesliga’s defensive player of the year.

“It worked out really well,” Theis said. “I think one of my biggest strengths is my versatility.”

In Europe, Theis was capable of defending centers and point guards. His range will probably be a bit more condensed in the NBA, where players are faster, stronger, and more athletic.

But the Celtics still believe he will be able to guard multiple positions.

“With players like Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, they need to score,” Theis said. “So you need other players to play defense and do, not the dirty stuff, but maybe the stuff that’s not on the stat sheet every time: setting screens, rolling, and just things like what Marcus Smart did a lot.”

“He didn’t average a lot of points, but maybe he took every game at least one charge. I think that’s also for me very important. Just get on the court, play with energy, and get defensive rebounds.”

Theis said he models his game a bit after another skilled big man, but it is not the one that most expect.

“People think I will say Dirk Nowitzki, because he is German,” Theis said, “but it was always Kevin Garnett. He doesn’t look strong, but he’s so strong, especially his mind, like his mental setup.”

Theis is planning to arrive in Boston in about two weeks to meet with the team’s coaches and get some training instruction. A week later he will go back overseas to play for Germany in the European Championships before returning to Boston prior to training camp.

For now, he is focused on adding strength and extending his range to become more comfortable with the longer NBA 3-point shot. With the recent addition of Shane Larkin the Celtics now have 16 players under guaranteed contracts, so Theis might have to earn his spot on the final roster. But the Celtics are optimistic that he will shine.

“He’s more athletic than some of the big guys we had last year,” Ainge said. “We’re interested to see where he fits in, and we’re excited about having him.”

“We feel like he can fit with any of our big combinations. For a rookie, he’s very experienced, and hopefully he can help us win a lot of games.”




bob
MY NOTE:  This article was written on August 3rd, so it's 5 weeks old (you could tell it was written before the IT/Crowder/Kyrie trade that got us down to 14 contracts, so his spot on the roster is secure now).  I'm looking at him as a cross between Amir and Jonas.  He's a rim protector like Amir, but runs the floor like Jonas.  He might not be as quick as Jonas, or maybe he is, but he is almost certainly quicker and more athletic than Amir and runs better than him too.

It will take him until January, maybe even February, before he absorbs Brad's playbook so it is 2nd nature to him and he gets used to the bigger, faster, stronger NBA players (like it was for Jaylen Brown and like it will for Jayson Tatum) but when his learning curve flattens out my money is saying we are going to be very happy with this guy.  A starter?  Probably not, but if 6'9", 240# Amir Johnson can start 6'9", 243# Daniel Theis starting isn't crazy talk.  No, I haven't forgotten about Marcus Morris, but he's 6'9" 230# with an unimpressive 6'10" wingspan.  Theis is the same height, #13 heavier and a excellent wingspan (I don't know the exact numbers but you can just look at him and see he's quite long).  With defensively-challenged Kyrie Irving and mediocre defender Gordon Hayward starting can we afford another defensively-questionable player like Morris starting?  Brad started Amir ahead of Kelly even though Kelly was the far superior offensive contributor, taking into account his passing as well as floor-spreading range.  If Brad is not happy with our first unit's defense, if he thinks too much responsibility for the defense is falling on Horford and Smart/Brown's shoulders, he might beef up the first unit's defense with a defensively talented player like Theis.

Yeah, I know I'm on a Daniel Theis for President kick, but I've watched a lot of film on him.  He does a lot of the little stuff that Amir did, and he can shoot from range and we know how much Brad loves his bigs being able to shoot.  Morris is a better scorer but probably not a better defender. Morris will start ahead of Theis and Baynes but watch out for dark horse Daniel Theis over the 2nd half of the season. If Gerald Green can start playoff games...
 


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bobheckler

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Re: Celtics ‘perfect situation’ for German forward Daniel Theis

Post by kdp59 on Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:25 pm

a couple things Bob,

Morris and Hayward are not mediocre defenders. In fact some say Morris has been one of the best defenders on King James in recent years. I think you will be surprised at his game one that side of the ball.

Hayward may not be a stopper, but he is more than average on the defensive side of the ball. His BB IQ helps out on that end ( think Larry Bird) and I think you might be surprised.

all that said, I agree Theis has played well in the Euro championships against the better near NBA level competition. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him ahead of Yabusele as our 4th big man at all.
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Re: Celtics ‘perfect situation’ for German forward Daniel Theis

Post by BleedGreen on Sun Sep 10, 2017 12:36 pm

kdp59 wrote:a couple things Bob,

Morris and Hayward are not mediocre defenders. In fact some say Morris has been one of the best defenders on King James in recent years. I think you will be surprised at his game one that side of the ball.

Hayward may not be a stopper, but he is more than average on the defensive side of the ball. His BB IQ helps out on that end ( think Larry Bird) and  I think you might be surprised.

all that said, I agree Theis has played well in the Euro championships against the better near NBA level competition. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him ahead of Yabusele as our 4th big man at all.

Just what I was going to say about Morris and Hayward not being mediocre defenders at all.

Theis would appear to be a good defender to throw at the Kevin Love's, Markieff Morris's and Cody Zeller's of the world, but anyone much taller than 6'10" or much more athletic than him is going to pose problems. Everything I have read says that he is not an elite athlete, is slow footed and more a savvy high motor player who positions himself well around the paint than anything else. 6'9" is likely actually 6'8" but it would appear his wingspan is greater than the 6'10" one Morris sports, which is awesome.

I'm intrigued and certainly optimistic that he can beat out Yabu for 8-12 mins of backup PF-C duty. But like Yabu and Semi he is ultimately undersized for what we want at that position and not athletic or offensively refined enough to be a 3-4 forward. We shall see. With Baynes being more of a 12-14 min man when guys like Oly and Amir were 20-22 min guys I think the Celtics will ultimately be looking to upgrade Baynes to a near starter caliber big man by early 2018.
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Re: Celtics ‘perfect situation’ for German forward Daniel Theis

Post by dboss on Mon Sep 11, 2017 10:58 am

I think both Theis and Yabusele will get opportunities to play.  I think Yabu has a higher ceiling.

Neither player will have a lot of time to practice with the team.  Yabu probably may be slightly ahead.  These are the type of storylines that are much anticipated.  

dboss


Last edited by dboss on Mon Sep 11, 2017 12:06 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Re: Celtics ‘perfect situation’ for German forward Daniel Theis

Post by red16russ11 on Mon Sep 11, 2017 11:30 am

If he pans out...........then I think our second unit of Rozier, Smart, Tatum, Theis and Baynes could make the playoffs in the East..........LOL
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