C's rookies prepare for first NBA test in camp

C's rookies prepare for first NBA test in camp
October 1, 2013, 9:00 am
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NEWPORT, R.I. — In the days leading up to the Boston Celtics' first day of training camp, Phil Pressey couldn't sleep.

Rookie jitters, perhaps?

"I'm anxious, nervous, all that," a grinning Pressey told CSNNE.com.

Before the Celtics' Media Day on Monday, Pressey said he watched the Media Day of other teams beforehand, "like two or three times.

Pressey added, "I was amped up. I'm amped up right now. I'm ready to get started."

Only time will tell if all that nervous energy will work in his favor as Pressey and the rest of the Celtics officially kick off the 2013-2014 season with Day One of training camp today at Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I.

Pressey will be one of three rookies with guaranteed contracts (Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani are the others) in camp, all of whom are in the hunt to play this season.

But for rookies, often what's seen in the first few days of camp is a far cry from what they are truly capable of doing on the court.

Austin Ainge, the C's director of player personnel, said there's a process by which most rookies have to learn how to play at this level off their instincts.

"Most of the time they have to process so many things that they play a little robotic and make more mistakes as a result," Ainge told CSNNE.com.

However, most of the Celtics' rookies have been in town for weeks which bodes well for them finding their way in camp sooner rather than later.

A year ago this time, Jared Sullinger was in their shoes, unsure of what was to come in camp and from there, the regular season.

Sullinger's advice?

"Just be prepared. That rookie wall, it's going to hit you. You have to keep pushing through it," Sullinger said.

He added, "Kevin (Garnett, now with the Brooklyn Nets) was a prime example for me, as far as basketball-wise. With all the years he's been playing, he still does the same routine. He still gets the same treatments, just because it works for him. You just have to find your routine and follow it."

But before a routine can be developed, players must make sure they are fit enough to compete.

Several players, including four-time All-Star Rajon Rondo, point to conditioning as being the key to a rookie's chances of standing out in camp.

"Training camp is not that difficult," Rondo told CSNNE.com. "You come in in shape, the rest is history.

Rondo added, "they'll run it out of you if you're not in shape. But you don't want to be in training camp looking like you're not in shape."

Faverani and Olynyk will both be fighting for playing time in the frontcourt this season, a field that already looks pretty crowded with Sullinger, Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries and Jeff Green.
Olynyk, acquired by the C's from Dallas on draft night, was an All-American at Gonzaga and was easily the C's best player at summer league in Orlando.

"I just want to come in and compete, do whatever coach Stevens needs me to do to just get better and help this team get better," Olynyk said.

Faverani has an array of skills as well, although it remains to be seen how the Brazilian big man's game translates to the NBA.

"He is a unique guy," Ainge said. "He can pick-and-roll with his size. He can pick-and-pop and he can post up and he can space the floor. That's a unique combination.

Ainge added, "But he needs to work on consistency. Last year in Spain, his highlight reel was unbelievable. He made a lot of great plays. But he fouled a little too much and turned the ball over a little too much. So we're trying to get him to be more consistent and compete at a higher level more consistently. He has that in him."

Celtics guard MarShon Brooks' first training camp came during 2011 lockout-shortened season.

He too was told going in how important arriving in great shape would be to his chances of seeing playing time as a rookie.

"I thought I came into camp in pretty good shape," Brooks recalled. "It was more physical, lots of guys competing for playing time sort of like this same situation. I thought it went well."

Brooks averaged 12.6 points per game that season and was named to the NBA All-Rookie second team.

And while there were clear differences between an NBA training camp and what Brooks did at Providence College to prepare for the season, it still comes back to doing all the necessary things to position one's self to play.

"College practices were longer, but the NBA has basically the same concept," Brooks said. "Everybody is coming in playing hard, trying to show what they've been working on all summer and hope that it'll be enough to impress the coaches and get them on the floor."