Boston Celtics

Sullinger has smarts

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Sullinger has smarts

The Celtics are barely two weeks into the preseason, but the accolades are already coming fast and furious for rookie Jared Sullinger. Most recently, the focus has been on Sullinger's basketball IQ, with Doc Rivers and Kevin Garnett both pointing out how well the rookie knows the game, and yesterday at practice, Rajon Rondo taking it to another level, saying that Sullinger is "probably the smartest rookie we've had since I've been here."

Before we get too carried away, let's take a second to remember the rookies who have played on the Celtics since Rondo joined the team: Gabe Pruitt, Glen Davis, J.R. Giddens, Billy Walker, Semih Erden, Lester Hudson, Luke Harandogy, Avery Bradley (smart, but was a nervous wreck as a rookie), E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson.

Right. So it's not like Sullinger has much competition. But more important than comparing him to past rookies, is the fact that Rondo thinks Sullinger has a strong IQ at all; strong enough to give his public blessing.

With guys as smart as Rondo or who fancy themselves as smart sometimes the hardest thing to do is give someone else credit for being smart. Guys like Rondo aren't easily impressed by other people's intelligence. And the fact that he felt the need to speak on the issue is an unbelievable sign. Because let's face it, with rookies, the game is just as much mental as it physical. Without the mental aspect, physical skills don't mean a thing. So at the very least, it's nice to know that Sullinger has that going for him. That after a mere two weeks, he's already earned the respect of the three most important guys in that locker room.

As for the physical? Sure looks like the kid can play the game as well as he understands it, but we'll find out more on Saturday in Hartford, when he gets his first taste of NBA competition.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

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NBA's a global game, and the Celtics are all in

BOSTON – The NBA has become more of an international game as teams scour the globe in search of the next big basketball talent.

While some franchises such as the San Antonio Spurs have been poaching talented international players for years, other franchises have been more locked into adding American-born ballers.

The Boston Celtics have paid close attention to the best international players for several years.

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But more often than not, additions to their roster through the draft have come from the college ranks with an occasional international player added via free agency.

This season's team will definitely have a certain international flavor to it with overseas additions coming by way of players they drafted and signed as free agents to bolster what should be one of the deeper teams in the East.

Boston has six rookies with guaranteed contracts for this upcoming season, four of which were born outside of the United States.

And of those four rookies, three of them – Guerschon Yabusele (16th overall pick); Ante Zizic (23rd overall pick) and Abdel Nader; 58th overall pick) – were selected in the 2016 draft but didn't join the team immediately. 

Yabusele who is originally from France, spent most of last season in China and came to the States and played briefly with the Celtic’s Gatorade League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. He will be among the bevy of young players competing for minutes off the Celtics bench. 

Zizic, born in Croatia, spent last season playing in his native country as well as in Turkey. The 7-foot center will come into training camp competing for playing time, possibly as Boston’s starting center.

And then there’s Nader, a G-League all-star as well as the G-League’s rookie of the year last season. The Egyptian-American wing player showed promise in each of the last two summer leagues which is in part why the Celtics signed him to a four-year, $6 million deal with only the first year fully guaranteed. 

They each have different strengths that only add value to a Boston squad that’s being built to play just about every style of play imaginable.

But the Celtics didn’t limit their pursuit of international talent to just the draft.

Boston has also signed German Forward Daniel Theis. 

Unlike the international players drafted by Boston, Theis is a bit of a mystery to most Celtics fans.

Last season he averaged 10.7 points and 4.6 rebounds for Brose Bamberg of Germany, while shooting 41.0 percent from 3-point range and 59.8 percent from the field.

And that season ended with a German championship, just like the previous two seasons for the 6-9, 243-pound forward who is expected to come in and compete for playing time off the bench for a Celtics team that’s looking for