The Celtics had a much lighter schedule this week in comparison to their last. This was much needed as they faced two of the Western Conference's super powers in the Spurs and OKC Thunder and finished off the week against the Orlando Magic. Up in Maine the Red Claws started their season off 2-0 thanks to contributions from both Joseph and Melo. In this Rookie Report we'll cover all three rookies in game performances and what they'll face in the coming week.
Boston Celtics forward Jared Sullinger (7) looks to pass the ball around Orlando Magic forward Glen Davis during the second half of an NBA basketball game, Sunday, Nov. 25, 2012, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/Scott Iskowitz)
Jared Sullinger - As the Celtics matched up against two of the Western Conference's top teams one could expect Sullinger's minutes to see a slight drop. This did in fact occur at a minimal level against both teams. In their first game Sully played 20 minutes and shot 1-3 on the night finishing with 2 points. His biggest contribution came from his work on the glass grabbing 7 rebounds, an aspect of their game they've struggled with as of late. His inexperience was taken advantage of by future Hall of Famer Tim Duncan who had a huge game for the Spurs but that happened to almost all of our frontcourt. After Thanksgiving the team matched up against the Thunder. This was a test for Sully as he was matched-up against both Serge Ibaka and former Celtic Kendrick Perkins. He tallied 14 minutes in the game and played well offensively going 4-6 for 8 points but just 3 rebounds. This was certainly a test for our top rookie and he proved to be out matched at times on the defensive end. Ibaka didn't record any highlight plays but was able to score consistently with his jumper.
It should also be noted that Sully's playing time may have
suffered due to foul trouble as he picked up four in just 14 minutes against OKC.
Doc has always been very hard on all his players and holds them accountable for
blown defensive assignments or unnecessary fouls. One might conclude this was
the case for Sullinger but he still received 19 minutes of play on Sunday against the Magic. In that time Sully really played aggressively on the offensive end. He had one of his best games this year finishing with 12 points on 5-12 shooting and grabbed 6 rebounds to go with them. Interestingly enough all 6 boards came on the offensive end. This is the sort of contribution the Celtics wanted and expected from drafting Sullinger and it's great to see him shine.
Kris Joseph - Up in Maine the D-League affilate Red Claws open up their season against the Canton Charge. The team as a whole played very well with Kris Joseph leading the team. Joseph led all scorers with 28 in the game and added a team high 8 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and 2 blocks in 39 minutes of play.
This was a great overall start to Kris' play in the D-League. Many players could take being sent to the D-League negatively but not Kris. With encouragement from teammate Avery Bradley (who too played for the Red Claws before becoming a quality contributor for the Celtics) and the right coaching Kris has really shown his potential.
Comcast Sports Net Celtics Insider A. Sherrod Blakely wrote an interesting piece about Kris' transition into the D-League and how his work with the Celtics has benefited his play so far.
"They (Celtics) don't want me to just be sitting around," Joseph said. "Me, neither. I want to play; that's how you really get better. I know playing behind Paul Pierce and Jeff Green, there's just not going to be much of an opportunity for me to play right now. That doesn't mean I can't get any better. That's what the D-League is for me; a chance to keep working on my game, keep improving so that when that opportunity does come, I'll be ready."
Blakely was also able to catch-up with Celtics teammates like Brandon Bass and ask their opinion about Kris' development to be come NBA ready. It's great to see everyone so supportive of the Rookies and the work they're putting in to help the Celtics organization as a whole. Checkout his full report here.
Because of his performance Kris was nominated to the D-League's Eastern Conference top performers list at the number two spot. Definitely watch for FLCeltsFan's posts midweek about our rookies play and even watch the full games as they're streamed and archived for free on YouTube. Or if you're simply interested in seeing all Kris' highlights check out his highlight reel from the Claw's first game below:
Fab Melo - Just like Kris Joseph, Fab Melo also joined the Maine Red Claws starting line-up and helped contribute to the teams first two wins. Fab had a game to forget in the first game against the Canton Charge. Fab looked a little slow in the beginning but got it going as the game progressed. He finished with just 2 points and 1 rebound but he also blocked 4 shots in 20 minutes. This was troublesome to most at first glance but once again keep in mind this is his first solid game situation minutes since Summer League play. Fab bounced back very nicely in the Claws second game being much more aggressive and active. The team matched up against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants and came away with their second win 117-112. Fab played well, he finished with 14 points on 7-10 shooting with 4 rebounds and 1 block in 17 minutes.
One can only hope with future experience and conditioning Melo could develop into a Tyson Chandler-esqe player. I know that's a bold statement as Chandler is a former NBA champion and last years Defensive Player of the Year...Hence why I said -esqe player. Their styles seem to match in many ways. Both aren't standout offensive players but have superior length and can dunk anywhere near the rim. In fact, of Fab's 14 points, 12 of them came off dunks or alley-oops. He certainly has a long way to go and needs to focus on conditioning. At times he could be seen really dragging getting up and down the court. This must change if he hopes to play in the NBA as I guarantee Doc won't stand for it.
However, as I mentioned last week, if he can learn how to execute and defend the pick and roll he could turn into a great pick and roll player. Match that with Rondo's ability to run the pick and roll and we might be able to see big things in the years to come. Check out Fab's highlight reel from the team's second win below.
The Red Claws next game will be Friday, November 30 when they host the Los Angeles D-Fenders at 7:00 PM ET. You can watch the game live on YouTube at this link.