Celtics' Iverson knows his opportunity is now

Celtics' Iverson knows his opportunity is now
July 1, 2014, 5:15 pm
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Colton Iverson was drafted by the Celtics with the 53rd-overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

(AP Photos)

WALTHAM, Mass. — When 7-foot center Colton Iverson showed up for training camp last year for the Boston Celtics, the likelihood of him making the team could be summed up in two words: no chance.

He was too raw offensively, too rigid on defense and had little value other than having six fouls to dole out per night.

But a stint in Turkey has not only improved Iverson's game, but it has also positioned him to make the Celtics roster this season.

"I know the opportunity is all mine for the taking," Iverson said. "If I come out and show what I can do in summer league and the next couple days here, it'll really help myself."

When asked about Iverson, Celtics forward Kelly Olynyk quipped, "he didn't get any smaller."

Olynyk added, "He's a big, strong guy who is gonna rebound, cause havoc on the defensive end."

Iverson has also been aided by approaching training camp with more optimism than he did last summer after Boston bought a second-round pick from Indiana and used it to select him with the No. 53 overall pick.

"I knew when I got drafted last year, there was a pretty good chance I would have to go overseas," Iverson said. "I was here working, trying to impress and do everything possible to make the team, but I knew there was a slim chance I'd make the roster. But this year's a better chance."

The Celtics have a need for a rim-protecting center. And while it remains to be seen if Iverson has what it takes to be that player, he does bring a physical brand of basketball to the floor that fortunately for the Celtics, remains intact after a year overseas.

Playing for Besiktas of the Turkish Basketball League, Iverson averaged 6.2 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.9 minutes per game.

Iverson had his share of highs and lows adjusting both on and off the court.

"I definitely had to adjust my game when I was over there," Iverson said. I was averaging like 4.5 fouls per game for the first two months. I had to learn how to play without fouling."

After making the necessary adjustments on the floor, breaking through the culture/language barrier was next on the agenda.

"You get used to it, but at the same time it gets to be a long year," Iverson said. "The culture shock of being in Turkey where you can't communicate with ... I'm trying to go to a restaurant and order a chicken sandwich and I'm getting lamb or something. It's tough but I got used to it."

He's hoping for a comparable adjustment to the NBA where his strength - being physical - can only help the transition.

"It's physical here (NBA)," Iverson said. "That's my style of play. It'll never change. I'm always gonna be someone who is a pest to play against. I kind of take pride in the way I play physical, and a menace."