High expectations from this Celtics rookie class

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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."

2011-12
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.

2010-11
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.

2009-10
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.

2008-09
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.

2007-08
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.

Celtics waive guard/forward John Holland

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Celtics waive guard/forward John Holland

BOSTON –  The Boston Celtics moved one step closer towards trimming down its overcrowded roster with the waiving of John Holland.

The 27-year-old would have gone into training camp with a very slim shot at making the roster. He signed a two-year deal that would have been worth $874,636 for the 2016-2017 season.

However, the contract was non-guaranteed and would have more than likely been used as part of a potential trade.

But no such deal materialized.

So rather than have the 6-foot-5 guard/forward in training camp with the odds heavily stacked against him making the team, Boston waived him now so that he has enough time to either go to training camp with another NBA team or sign with a team overseas.

Holland, who starred at Boston University, has already played overseas in France, Spain and Turkey in addition to having played with the Development League’s Canton Charge last season.

He played in one game for the Boston Celtics.

The Celtics now have 18 players in training camp, 16 of which have guaranteed contracts.

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

Celtics’ Jaylen Brown voted most athletic by fellow rookies

The NBA’s 38 rookies had their annual photo shoot and were polled by NBA.com with a couple of questions about their class. When asked which rookie was the most athletic among them, the Celtics’ Jaylen Brown, the No. 3 pick overall last June, won in a landslide.

Here are the results of that question:  

1. Jaylen Brown, Boston -- 38.7%

2. Brice Johnson, L.A. Clippers -- 16.1%

3. Marquese Chriss, Phoenix -- 9.7%

T-4. Malik Beasley, Denver -- 6.5%

Kay Felder, Cleveland -- 6.5%

Gary Payton II, Houston -- 6.5%

Providence guard Kris Dunn, No. 5 pick of the Minnesota Timberwolves was the freshman class’ pick to win rookie of the year honors, with 29 percent of the vote, followed by No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram of the Lakers and No. 1 pick Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers.

Click here for the complete poll. 

 

Mickey has to prove to Celtics he has more than just potential

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Mickey has to prove to Celtics he has more than just potential

Every weekday until Sept. 7, we'll take a look at each player at the Celtics roster: Their strengths and their weaknesses, their ceiling and their floor. We continue today with Jordan Mickey. For a look at the other profiles, click here.

BOSTON – Jordan Mickey admittedly came to Boston with a chip on his shoulder.

Selected by Boston with the 33rd overall pick, Mickey felt he should have been a first-round pick.

The Celtics felt the same way.

That's why they signed the 6-foot-9 forward from LSU to a four-year, $5 million contract, a deal that made his annual average salary higher than fellow rookie R.J. Hunter, who was taken in the first round by Boston with the 28th overall pick.

While Mickey landed a deal comparable to what a player selected in the first round would make, he still has to prove that he’s more than just a player with potential.

The ceiling for Mickey: Regular rotation

Mickey didn't have the kind of breakout summer that he and the Celtics were hoping for, primarily because of a left shoulder injury that limited his availability.

Mickey did not play for Boston's summer league entry in Salt Lake City because of the injury, but did see action with the Celtics' summer league squad in Las Vegas. 

He appeared in five games, averaging 9.8 points and 6.6 rebounds in 25 minutes, to go with 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks per game. Mickey also shot 56.3 percent from the field. 

It was a decent showing, but for Mickey to have the kind of continued growth both he and the Celtics are seeking, he’ll need to become a more consistent defender in addition to continuing to expand his offensive game. 

Like most big men in the NBA, Mickey is doing his best to show that he can help space the floor with his perimeter shooting that extends beyond the 3-point line.

It was something you saw him work during pregame shootarounds with the assistant coaches. In summer league, Mickey was 1-for-3 on 3s.

But Mickey understands he is in the NBA because of what he can do defensively and around the rim. He was the nation's leader in blocked shots per game (3.6) in his final year at LSU. 

And it was among the many areas in which Mickey stood out this past season in his time with the Celtics' Development League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws.

Of course, college and D-League success don’t always result in similar results in the NBA.

But when it comes to Mickey, he has shown himself capable of doing some impressive feats defensively in a very small and limited role in the NBA.

Although he only appeared in 16 NBA games as a rookie, Mickey was the only player who held opponents to less than 50 percent shooting in the restricted area (48.9 percent), in the non-restricted area in the paint (46.2 percent) and mid-range (44.4).

In addition, opponents shot 16.7 and 18.8 percent from the left corner on 3s and above-the-break 3s, respectively.

Mickey finding a way to continue improving as an offensive player while providing the same level of play defensively will go far in him solidifying a place for himself in the Celtics’ regular rotation.

The floor for Mickey: Roster spot

The Celtics have too many players in training camp and someone with guaranteed money has to go, but don’t look for it to be Jordan Mickey. The Celtics didn’t sign him to a four-year deal worth end-of-the-first-round money to not at least see what he can do given more of an opportunity to play. He spent most of his rookie season with the Maine Red Claws. 

And his time there was indeed well spent. 

He appeared in 23 games for the Red Claws and was named a D-League all-star before finishing the season averaging a double-double of 17.4 points and 10.3 rebounds along with a league-best 4.4 blocks per game. In addition to shooting 53.1 percent from the field, Mickey showed he had some range as well while connecting on 35 percent of his 3-point shots.

Mickey has shown the kind of promise that the Celtics want to see more of before making a decision on his long-term future. 

That is why worst-case scenario for Mickey this season, barring him being traded, is for him to be another available body on the Celtics bench.