High expectations from this Celtics rookie class


High expectations from this Celtics rookie class

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.

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

Bradley could miss 'a little more time' with Achilles injury

BOSTON – Wednesday’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks was the fifth time in the last six games that Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley was out because of a right Achilles injury.

Well, it appears the 6-foot-2 guard may miss a few more with this injury.

“I can see him missing a little more time,” Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said following Wednesday’s loss. “I just think maybe he came back a little bit too early, whatever the case may be.”

Bradley was expected to play against the Knicks, but was a last-minute scratch.

Celtics big man Al Horford said he didn’t find out Bradley was out until the team was on the floor doing pre-game warmups and he didn’t see him.

“He was really sore,” Stevens said of Bradley. “Went through our walk-through and then came on to the court and did some stuff and was more sore today than he has been. I think he did treatment the whole game.”

This latest setback for Bradley is part of a growing narrative that has dogged him throughout his career which has included him missing games to injury in each of his six-plus NBA seasons.

Bradley came into this season once again hoping to be as injury-free as possible, only to see that dream dashed with this right Achilles strain he's suffering with currently.

Still, there’s no downplaying the significance and value the Celtics have in the 26-year-old. This season, he is second on the Celtics in scoring at 17.7 points per game and leads them in rebounds with 6.9 per game with both being career highs. In addition, he averages just under 35 minutes per game which is also tops on the team.

Marcus Smart has been Stevens’ choice to replace Bradley in the starting lineup when Bradley has been unavailable, and that’s not likely to change between now and Saturday’s home game against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

Horford on rough night vs. Knicks: 'They deserved to win. They played better'

BOSTON – With the night’s outcome all but a foregone conclusion, Al Horford’s last basket of the night got a sarcastic round of applause and a few jeers from the few fans that decided to stick it out for the final few seconds of Boston’s 117-106 loss to the New York Knicks.

Horford finished with a season-low five points for the Celtics (26-16).

Connecting on just 2-for-14 (or 14.3 percent) of his shots also represented the worst shooting night percentage-wise in Horford’s nine-plus NBA seasons.

“I struggled bad offensively,” said Horford who still managed to dish out a game-high 10 assists. “I tried to do anything I could to help us. It just wasn’t going for me.”

But as poorly as Horford shot the ball, he was more bothered by his defense and for that matter the Celtics’ team defense.

New York came into Wednesday’s game having lost 11 of its last 13 games and spent most of the night playing like a team that’s thirsty for a win.

They shot 50.5 percent from the floor, 40 percent on 3’s and dominated the glass 57-33 which helped fuel New York’s 24-12 advantage in second-chance points.

“We have to do a better job of holding teams to one shot,” Horford said. “That’s the first thing. I have to do a better job at protecting the rim. I know I can recall a couple instances where I needed to be there and I wasn’t impacting the ball as much as I would like to. I know I have to be better on the defensive end.”

Horford’s struggles on many levels mirrored the problems experienced by the rest of the Celtics.

“They punked us,” said Boston’s Isaiah Thomas who led all scorers with 39 points. “They were the harder playing team on both ends of the floor. That was the definition of this game; they played harder than us.”

For most of the night, the New York Knicks were making all the big plays defensively and clutch shots offensively while the Celtics consistently failed to get that one defensive stop or knock down the one jumper that could have at least shifted the game’s momentum closer to being in their favor.

Boston rookie Jaylen Brown believes the Celtics didn’t take the struggling Knicks as seriously as they should have.

“It’s very frustrating,” said Brown who came off the bench to score 12 points for Boston (26-16). “It’s a game we should have won. We underestimated our opponent. We are a better team than that even though we played bad we still had a lot of opportunities to win the ball game.”

Horford had a different take on how things went down on Wednesday.

“I don’t think we overlooked them,” Horford said. “But I think we kind of … consciously or not, we felt we were going to win this game like, ‘We’ll struggle a little bit, but we’ll figure it out and win it.’ It didn’t work like that. In the fourth, we were right there. They made a couple shots. They deserved to win. They played better.”

And as the Celtics found themselves on multiple occasions having a chance to tie the game or take the lead in the fourth, it would have been fool’s good if they somehow managed to squeak out a win on Wednesday night.

“We didn’t deserve it,” said Boston’s Jae Crowder who had 21 points. “When you don’t deserve it, the basketball gods don’t bless you.”

But there’s plenty of season left to be played, and the Celtics – as we saw on Wednesday – have plenty of room for improvement.

Especially Horford, particularly when it comes to getting back on track shooting the ball.

“It was at the point where I didn’t have it,” he said. “That was tough. So I tried to impact the game in other ways whether it was setting screens or giving people shots, stuff like that. That was definitely tough for me because they were good looks. They just didn’t go in.”