Wilcox hopes to overcome early struggles

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Wilcox hopes to overcome early struggles

BOSTON There was plenty of disappointment in the Boston Celtics locker room following Friday's loss to the Indiana Pacers.

But few seemed to take the latest setback for the Green Team harder than Chris Wilcox.

That's because this game was like most this season, one in which the 6-foot-10 big man made little, if any, impact.

Wilcox, who played less than three minutes, provided just 1 point and zero boards and failed to provide the kind of high-energy, high impact plays the C's were hoping for when they signed him to a one-year deal for the full, miniature mid-level exception (3 million).

In five games, he is averaging career-lows in just about every category, including scoring (1.4) and minutes played (9) per game.

He'll be the first to tell you that he has to play better.

"Whatever it takes for me to get going, that's what I'm going to do," Wilcox told CSNNE.com. "I think I'm hurting the team right now."

Wilcox added, "I just got to get my mentals right; I gotta get right. I gotta get my confidence back."

You can blame it on his left shoulder injury, or being with a new team that has a goal in mind -- an NBA title -- that no team he has ever played for in the past ever seriously considered.

None of that matters.

He knows that the Celtics will need strong play from many, himself included, in order to continue its run among the top teams in the East.

But they'll need him to provide more than three minutes.

The lack of playing time was due to, more than anything else, his inability to give the second unit a lift. But head coach Doc Rivers is quick to come to the defense of Wilcox and the rest of the team's backup players, a unit that hasn't quite made the impact many were expecting.

"We do have to get more out of our bench," Rivers acknowledged. "That's on me. I have to find something that works for them, that we can give them. They're an energy group. They're not a scoring group."

Wilcox certainly falls into that category.

He has never averaged more than 14.1 points per game in a season, with most of his points usually coming on hustle plays or relatively close to the basket on dunks, easy put-backs or lay-ups.

When asked specifically about Wilcox, Rivers made it clear that the veteran big man's play was not something he was too worried about now.

"The guy, he missed a couple games," Rivers said. "He's working his way back. We're eight games into the year. So I'm not too concerned with that."

Despite his left shoulder still giving him problems, Wilcox refuses to use that as an excuse for his struggles.

"It's still sore, it still bothers me but at the end of the day I gotta go out there and play hard, man," Wilcox said. "I haven't been playing like myself. I know what I gotta do; I gotta get in the gym, get my work in and get better. It's that simple."

O'Connor: Zizic would go top-10 in 2017 draft

O'Connor: Zizic would go top-10 in 2017 draft

It seems the Celtics can throw yet another piece onto their treasure trove of assets. 

The Celtics stashed two of their first-round picks from the 2016 draft overseas and in the process have seen 23rd overall pick Ante Zizic establish himself as a very promising NBA prospect. 

The Croatian center, currently playing in the Turkish League, has boosted his stock with a strong season in what’s expected to be his last before joining the Celtics. Appearing on Toucher and Rich Thursday morning, The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor said that Zizic has improved to the point that he would be a top-10 pick in the 2017 draft. “He looks really good,” O’Connor said. “I liked him last year when I first watched him. I thought, ‘Good energy big man. He’ll have a solid career,’ but then the more you watch him, the more you see. 

“This year, he’s really taken a step forward. All his strengths look better. All the things he was already good at like screening, rebounding and rim-protection, he looks better. But he’s also starting to flash a little bit of a mid-range jumper, and he’s never had bad mechanics, but now that shot’s starting to fall. So maybe he can be more than that energy big man. Maybe he’s a little bit more dynamic than that. 

“If I’m the Celtics, I value him as you’re getting a top-10 pick this yea. I think he’d go around nine or 10 in this draft.”