After their first week of play the Celtics have had their ups and downs in competition. In this Rookie Report we'll cover the newcomers contributions in the first three games, their development, and what to look for in the Celtics upcoming schedule.
Jared Sullinger - As noted and projected in the first Rookie Round-Up, there were high expectations for first round draft pick Jared Sullinger. Recently he has been a key subject in headlines and certainly is everything the team was hoping for. The biggest news came as Doc Rivers explained at this point their is no "given starter" at the power forward spot. Instead, he explained the team would constantly mix-up their starting line-ups depending on their opposition and match-ups.
Sully has steadily gained minutes as the season progresses. In our first game at Miami he only saw 8 minutes and hooked up with Rondo to make one standout, highlight play. On Friday night, in the home opener, Jared saw 18 minutes of play putting together a solid performance finishing with 6 points and 7 rebounds in the game. And then, in just his third game, Sully started at the four spot against the Washington Wizards. This was no easy task as he faced veteran PF Emeka Okafor but Sully stood tall, knew his role, and played solid defense holding Okafor to 1-6 shooting and 3 points. Sullinger finished with 4 points on 2-3 shooting and 7 rebounds.
This effort is exactly what we need and his contributions we're well regarded by both the team and coaching staff. He has bought into his role with the team and proved he dosen't need to be a focal point in the offense. Clearly Doc wasn't lying as Sullinger got his first start in just the third regular season game. Brandon Bass played nearly 28 minutes off the bench and looked to help deepen the bench's depth and scoring.
To top off all of these early accomplishments Kevin Garnett even went as far as comparing Jared Sullinger to Kendrick Perkins:
“Jared understands what we’re doing,” said Garnett. “He’s a no-nonsense guy — not that I’m shooting anything at the other guys — but the young fella comes in, does his job and does what you tell him. He’s a great rebounder, his IQ is unbelievable, he can pass the ball and he reminds me a lot of Perk. Obviously, he’s not the defensive player that Perk was, but as far as IQ, moving the ball and being unselfish, he’s a great teammate.”
If this attitude and production keeps up I can't wait to see Sully's development. Being mentored by Garnett will certainly fast-track his improvement. He seems to be focusing on working with the first unit under KG's tutelage and even working pick and roll with Rondo. At this rate, if he continues to perform with the first group, who knows Sully could become the fulltime starter by the end of the month.
Kris Joseph - Kris Joseph had a emotional week leading into regular season play. He survived the Celtics final roster cuts and became the team's 15th man. In two of the first three Celtics games Joseph did not play per the coach's decision. This was largely understood as we have a plethora of guards and small forwards looking for time at either the 2 or 3 spot. Kris did manage to play just under 3 minutes in the blowout loss to Milwaukee, finishing with no points on zero shots, 1 rebound and 1 assist. In this first week Joseph may have had a quiet role but still was able to make his work ethic and presence known.
Kris Joseph on the court shooting around for hrs before every game,jst like some1 else who had that pregame routine here.Love his work ethic
— Molly McGrath (@MollyAMcGrath) November 2, 2012
Fab Melo - Fab hasn't received much attention so far on or off the court. Coming in it was understood he had some "rough edges" and would be a project. The most notable update on Melo's development came from President of Basketball Operations, Danny Ainge in his weekly appearance on WEEI (93.7 FM). Danny praised Melo's work ethic and admitted he faces a learning curve. Fab got a late start to the game and needs to learn the in's and out's of the NBA. As predicted Danny plans on sending Melo north to the Maine Red Claws to get some much needed playing time. There he will be able to receive focused, individual coaching to develop his skills and in time get Melo ready to become a quality contributor, even starter, at Center for the Celtics in the coming years.
The Celtics face the Washington Wizards again tomorrow, Wednesday November 7 at home in the TD Garden. We'll look to see if Sully gets the start again and how he'll contribute both offensively and defensively. The team will then face the Philadelpha 76ers at home Friday and round out the week on the road, looking for redemption in Milwaukee against the undefeated Bucks.