The Celtics rookies have earned high praise early in preseason. On some teams, this would be expected given the group of first-year players includes two first-round picks. But on the Celtics, a team deep with veterans, All-Stars, and future Hall of Famers, rookies have not always made an immediate impression.
This weekend, Jared Sullinger, Dionte Christmas, Kris Joseph, Jamar Smith, Micah Downs, and Fab Melo closed out the Celtics preseason overtime loss against the New York Knicks with the entire bench cheering them on. While it remains to be seen how many minutes Celtics rookies will see in the regular season, the buzz around these young players is much louder than years past.
Take a look back at how former Celtics rookies performed over the past five seasons in "The New Big Three Era."
JaJuan Johnson (F): 27th overall pick in 2011 Draft
36 games (0 starts), 8.3 mpg, 3.2 pts, 1.6 reb
E'Twaun Moore (G): 55th overall pick in 2011
38 games (0 starts), 8.7 mpg, 2.9 pts, 0.9 ast
Greg Stiemsma (C): Undrafted
55 games (3 starts), 13.9 mpg, 2.9 pts, 3.2 reg, 1.5 blk
Johnson and Moore entered their rookie seasons without the experience of training camp due to the NBA lockout. The condensed schedule also led to a lack of practices, which limited their opportunities to run through drills and scrimmage with the entire team.
While Stiemsma lacked NBA experience, he came to the Celtics after playing overseas. Of the three rookies, it was the undrafted big man who earned the most playing time as the C's backup center behind Kevin Garnett by the end of the season.
Stiemsma garnered interest on the free agent market this summer and inked a deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves. Johnson and Moore were dealt to the Houston Rockets as part of the Courtney Lee trade. Moore was waived shortly after and signed with the Orlando Magic.
Avery Bradley (G): 19th overall pick in 2010 NBA Draft
31 games (0 starts), 5.2 mpg, 1.7 pts, 0.4 ast
Semih Erden (C): 60th pick in 2008
37 games (7 starts), 14.4 mpg, 4.1 pts, 2.9 reb
Luke Harangody (F): 52nd overall pick in 2010
28 games (0 starts), 8.6 mpg, 2.3 pts, 2.0 reg
Bradley, a first-round pick, missed his rookie training camp due to ankle surgery and rode the bench for most of his first year. His selection raised eyebrows at the time, but only a year later he emerged as one of the top young defensive guards in the league. Bradley, 21, was named the Celtics starting shooting guard toward the end of last season in place of Ray Allen, averaging more than 12 points a game as a starter. He is currently rehabbing from double shoulder surgery.
Erden and Harangody's time with the Celtics was much shorter than Bradley's. The pair was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers in February of 2011 in exchange for a 2013 second-round pick. This summer Harangody signed with the Cavs and Erden inked a deal with Anadolu Efes in his native Turkey.
Lester Hudson (G): 58th overall pick in 2009 NBA Draft
16 games (0 starts), 4.4 mpg, 1.4 pts, 0.5 ast
Marcus Landry (F): Undrafted
1 game (0 starts), 3.0 mpg, 0.0 points, 0.0 rebs
Playing time was delegated to the veterans on the 2010 Celtics team that came within one game of winning a world championship. The Celtics waived Hudson in January of 2010 prior to the deadline to guarantee his contract. He most recently played for the Memphis Grizzlies last season.
Landry joined the Celtics in February 2010 from the New York Knicks in the Nate Robinson trade. He appeared in one game and was waived in April. Landry has played overseas and was a member of the Phoenix Suns Las Vegas Summer League team in July.
J.R. Giddens (G): 30th overall pick in 2008 Draft
6 games (0 starts), 1.3 mpg, 0.7 pts, 0.5 rebs
Bill Walker (F): 47th overall pick in 2008 Draft
29 games (0 starts), 7.4 mpg, 3.0 pts, 1.0 rebs
Following the Celtics 2008 championship, the pair of rookies joined a veteran team and saw most of their minutes in the NBA Development League. Giddens and Walker played a total of 41 games with the C's former D-League affiliate, the Utah Flash.
Both players were traded to the Knicks in their sophomore seasons in the Nate Robinson deal. Walker went on to play another two seasons in the Big Apple before being waived in April of 2012. Giddens left the NBA for Europe and is currently playing for Leonessa Brescia in Italy.
Glen Davis (F): 35th overall pick in 2007 Draft
69 games (1 start), 13.6 mpg, 4.5 ppt, 3.0 reb
Gabe Pruitt (G): 32nd overall pick in 2007 Draft
15 games (0 starts), 6.3 mpg, 2.1 pts, 0.9 ast
Davis and Pruitt were the lone rookies on the 2008 world championship team during the first season of the "New Big Three Era." While the squad was headlined by veteran trio of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen, Davis established himself as a key bench player at only 22 years old. He made the biggest impact of all Celtics rookies in the last five years. After four seasons in Boston, Davis signed a multi-year deal with the Orlando Magic in 2011.
Pruitt, on the other hand, failed to make his mark in limited minutes. He was waived by the Celtics prior to the start of his second season. He most recently played for the Sioux Falls Skyforce (NBA Development League) last season.