How can Semi Ojeleye build off a solid rookie season?

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How can Semi Ojeleye build off a solid rookie season?

Post by bobheckler on Sun Sep 16, 2018 10:51 am

How can Semi Ojeleye build off a solid rookie season?

By A. Sherrod Blakely

September 14, 2018 11:09 AM

BOSTON -- When it comes to being a second-round pick, making the roster is a victory in itself.

But it became clear early on that Boston’s Semi Ojeleye could be more than just an end-of-the-bench backup.

He could be someone that can contribute to winning, which is rare for a second-round pick in their first season.

Even more unusual is a second-round pick doing it with a squad that ranks among the best in the NBA.

As a rookie, Ojeleye appeared in 73 games which trailed just Dillon Brooks among games played by second-round rookies last year.

But what made Ojeleye stand apart from the rest was the fact that he not only saw action during the playoffs, but was in the starting lineup at times during Boston’s hard-fought, seven game series with the Milwaukee Bucks.

His play and preparation earned him playing time last season.

So what does the 6-foot-6 forward need to do in order to get playing time this season?


As a second-rounder on a really talented team, Ojeleye was consumed with doing whatever it was they needed from him, knowing he wouldn’t be on the floor much. There were few times that Ojeleye looked to beat defenders off the dribble. Expect a more aggressive Ojeleye this season, especially considering that was a big part of his success this summer with Boston’s summer league team. He’s not all of a sudden going to morph into Kyrie Irving when it comes to finishing at the rim, but looking for that shot a bit more than last season will be a step in the right direction for both him and the Celtics.


Ojeleye’s ability to hold his own defensively against players like Giannis Antetokounmpo and Carmelo Anthony was instrumental in him getting on the floor last season. For the season, Ojeleye had a defensive rating of 103.8 but that didn’t tell the story of what he meant to the Celtics defense. One of Ojeleye’s early tests came at Milwaukee on Oct. 26 of last year. Giannis Antetokounmpo led all scorers with 28 points on 10-for-21 shooting. But the Celtics emerged with a 96-89 win in part because of Ojeleye’s defense on the Greek Freak who missed three of the four shot attempts while defended by Ojeleye, in the fourth quarter.


Ojeleye was one of the easier Celtics players to defend last season because everyone knew when he was on the floor that if he wasn’t behind the 3-point line, he probably wasn’t going to shoot. Ojeleye took 188 shots from the field last season. According to, 125 of them, or 66.5 percent, were 3-pointers which he basically split with 62 from the corner and 63 being above-the-break 3s. Ojeleye might want to stick with the corner 3-ball considering he shot 37.1 percent from there, while connecting on just 27.0 percent of his above-the-break 3’s.


When you look at players who benefited most from Gordon Hayward’s injury, Ojeleye has to be on that list. His ability to defend multiple frontcourt positions and be a solid switch-out defender on guards, was an important aspect of Boston’s defense being as good as it was last year. Although Ojeleye wound up playing in 73 regular seasons and later earned a couple starts in the playoffs, at no point did he do well enough to establish a steady spot in the team’s playing rotation. Short of that, there was uncertainty as far as whether he would play, pretty much every game of the season. But to his credit, he was ready to contribute whenever his number was called. He’ll need to take a similar approach to this season.

MY NOTE: I think it is safe to say that NOBODY thought Semi would get as many minutes last year as he did. I realize some of that was the Hayward injury opening up minutes for someone but Semi was guarding players that Hayward would never have been assigned to. Giannis? Embiid? This year will be a very interesting one for him. As far as Blakely's points, I was saying all last year that Semi should attack with the ball and go to the rim. The rest of Blakely's points are ridiculously obvious.


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Re: How can Semi Ojeleye build off a solid rookie season?

Post by wideclyde on Sun Sep 16, 2018 11:05 am


If you want to you could even say that Blakeley' statement about Ojeleye's need to attack the rim is pretty obvious now after he played a full NBA season.

If Mr. Blakeley had mentioned this weakness LAST September, he would have been far less obvious and far more respected as a basketball writer/analyst.

Do you think that Blakeley reads posts like are in this forum prior to some of his writings?

Quickly getting back to Ojeleye, if he wants to have a career in the NBA he will have to learn to throw his body into defenders (and score) at the rim to make him a much more complete player. He will not survive only as a part time, 6'6 forward type of defender.


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Re: How can Semi Ojeleye build off a solid rookie season?

Post by dboss on Sun Sep 16, 2018 1:08 pm

Based on a fan's view, I see 3 things that Semi needs to do much better.

He needs to become a more reliable shooter from behind the arc.  I do not subscribe to the notion that he should only focus on 3 point shooting from the corners,  He needs to shoot from up top as well and if Blakley did a little research he would find that shooting the 3 from up top was a strength at SMU.

Yes he needs to get to the rim more but that is primarily a function of his handle.  Semi still has a weak handle and that limits his ability to get to the rim.

Semi is a physical marvel yet he is soft on he glass.  He simply does not know how to use his body.

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