B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence

923433.jpg

B's wunderkind Spooner off to good start in Providence

Things have started out very promisingly for rookie forward and top Bruins prospect Ryan Spooner.
The 20-year-old is tied with Max Sauve for the P-Bruins team lead with four points (1 goal, 3 assists) in Providences first four games of the season, and has teamed with Sauve and Jamie Tardif for a consistently productive line. The trio has accounted for at least one goal in each of Providences four games thus far, and Spooner has been among the most active with eight shots on net.
The 2010 second round pick isnt taking anything for granted, of course, and wants to keep developing and pushing until he finds himself in the NHL. It might not be that far off with his ability to shift gears and speeds quickly on the ice, and his Krejci-like skill at slowing things down when the puck is on his stick.
It took until Providences first win against the Manchester Monarchs last weekend for Spooner to crack the goal column, but hes making plays in every single game.
Ive been working hard to get to this point over the last few years, and now you look forward to the challenge at this level, said Spooner. I want to prove that I can be a consistent, dependable player at both ends of the ice, and just keep getting bigger, faster, stronger and better.
The goal is to get to the NHL someday soon, but Im happy developing my game and continuing to improve until that opportunity arrives. This is a great league were playing in this year, and my complete focus is on where Im at right now.
It was thought that Chris Bourque would start the season riding shotgun with Spooner on the same line in Providence, but that hasnt happened through the first four games. It hasnt stopped Bourque from recognizing what Spooner is bringing to the table at such a precocious young age.
Hes definitely impressive. He has good speed and sees the ice really well, said Bourque. I didnt know much about him at all before I got here. Hes an impressive player. We expect big things from him and hes definitely going to be able to help the team out.
Im excited to teach him things about becoming a pro and guiding him in the right direction; the kind of things guys helped me out with when I was a young player.
Its not surprising given Spooners skating ability and playmaking sense, and the mere fact that he put up seven points in eight games during two quick AHL stints over the previous two seasons. So Spooner is already a point-per-game player early in his pro career, and just needs to show Bruins officials that he understands what it means to be a professional hockey player.
That includes all of the little things hell need to do to stick at the NHL level, and that goes doubly so for young players breaking into Claude Juliens two-way system in Boston. Interestingly enough, there are two prospects at opposite ends of the spectrum after four games: Spooner is a point-per-game player and Jared Knight is a minus-2 after two games while missing time with some groin issues.
Some guys get off to a great start and then tail off over a long year. Other guys it takes a little while to get going, said Bruins assistant GM Don Sweeney. What we want to see is consistency. Its a big jump and its a tough league, and an even bigger jump is coming with the next one. So we want them to be prepared mentally and physically.
Maybe guys arent on the first unit like theyve been accustomed to all through junior. Maybe theyre on the second unit. But dont pout about it. Youve got to embrace it because its a unique league: youre competing against all of the guys on your own team as well trying to win collectively. The quicker a player realizes that component the better it is for their development. How quickly they get to the NHL depends on their work habits on and off the ice, their training ability and their skill.
It also doesnt hurt that young prospects like Spooner have the Full Monty of Bruins front office types with Sweeney, Peter Chiarelli, Jim Benning, Claude Julien and the rest of the Bs coaching staff front and center while the NHL lockout rages on. Thats allowed Spooner to put himself into the conversation for a training camp invite once the NHL season gets started, and remain there provided he keeps playing high high-flying game in Providence against some very good AHL competition.

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

Tatum 'can't wait' for new challenge with Celtics

BOSTON – While the newest Boston Celtics were scattered about while at a community service event, 19-year-old Jayson Tatum was sitting in a really comfortable-looking chair, resting. 

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind unlike any he had ever experienced, beginning with the pre-draft process, to workouts, to the draft itself and all the appearances and media engagements that have followed. 

“It’s a lot,” Tatum, grinning, told CSNNE.com. “But I’m taking it one day at a time.”

That steady-as-she-goes approach served him well during his lone season at Duke. 

Keeping an even-keeled approach will bode well for him as he gears up for his first taste of NBA basketball beginning with summer league practice this week in preparation for next week’s summer league action which begins in Salt Lake City. 

Boston’s summer league opener will be July 3 against Philadelphia and the top overall pick Markelle Fultz, at the University of Utah’s Jon M. Huntsman Center.

Tatum, who has not played in a five-on-five game since Duke’s loss to South Carolina in the NCAA tournament, is admittedly excited to get back on the floor this week. 

“I can’t wait,” he said. 

Celtics Nation feels the same way about Tatum, selected with the third overall pick in last week’s NBA draft. 

Although it’s only a preseason game, there will be expectations and with that, possibly some added pressure for Tatum to show he was such a coveted player by the Celtics. 

“That’s why Duke helped me a lot,” he told CSNNE.com. “Duke, the best program in college basketball, we were always on the national spotlight good or bad, whether we were winning or losing. That will help me a lot preparing for the Boston Celtics.”

And like Duke, Tatum will have to fight his way on to the court although he readily admits the challenge is much greater in the NBA. 

“Isaiah Thomas, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder … we didn’t have those guys at Duke,” Tatum said. “It’s gonna be tough; just try my best and get in where I fit in.”

Tatum said he will at times lean on his more experienced teammates, one of which was a former teammate of his – sort of – in Jaylen Brown. 

“I’ve known Jaylen for a while,” Tatum said. “We played with and against each other in high school at AAU camps. 

Tatum added, “at the AAU camps, sometimes we were on the same team and sometimes we were not.”

While much has been made about how the two are similar, Tatum sees both having strengths that complement, rather than compete, with each other. 

“He’s further along than Jaylen was skill-wise and he’s not as far along as Jaylen physically,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “Again, he’s 19 years old. I don’t want to put any expectations … I want to give him time to grow. We’ll see. He’ll definitely have a role, get a chance to play. And how well he performs is up to him.”

Tatum’s assessment of his game and Brown’s goes as follows:

“He’s a lot stronger, bigger than me,” Tatum, who is 6-foot-8, 204 pounds, acknowledged. “He’s much more athletic. Offensively, I think that’s what I excel in, being smooth and my ability to score. I can just learn from him, the things that he went through last year.”

One of the things he has already picked up on, is that Brown is a pretty smart – and at times clever – dude. 

Not long after Tatum picked jersey number 11, Brown, who wears number 7, took to social media and came up with a 7-11 theme that has already lead to some pretty snazzy t-shirt designs. 

“I thought it was funny,” Tatum said. “It’s catchy; I like it.”

And the Celtics really like Tatum’s game which has been compared at times to former Celtic great Paul Pierce. 

“I hate to make those comparisons when kids are 19 and let his game evolve into whatever it is,” Ainge said. “The similarity is they have good footwork. They both have really good ways to create space for shots. But the similarity … they’re both very good defensive rebounders. Those are two things that stand out to me with Jayson that are Paul characteristics.”

Tatum knows he’s a long way from being in the same company as Celtic royalty such as Pierce. 

Before then he must first earn minutes on the floor which will not be an easy task. 

But Tatum’s demeanor, much like his game, has seemingly always been a bit more mature than most of his fellow basketball brethren. 

Tatum credits his parents, Justin Tatum and Brandy Cole.

“They raised me to be different, be more mature and stand out above the crowd and be my own person and be comfortable in my skin,” Tatum said. “That’s how I’ve always been.”

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

best_of_bst_podcast.jpg

BOSTON SPORTS TONIGHT PODCAST: How does the Chris Paul trade affect the Celtics?

SUBSCRIBE iTunes | Stitcher | RSS

0:41 - Tom Curran, Tom Giles, and Kayce Smith discuss the Rockets acquiring Chris Paul and how that trade can actually have an affect on the Celtics plans.

5:06 - Ian Thomsen joins BST to talk about if the Celtics are the front runners for Paul George, what would be too much to give up to the Pacers, and why it’s important to sign Hayward before trading for George.

11:21 - Evan Drellich joins from Fenway Park to discuss Rick Porcello getting his 10th loss of the season and if the struggling offense might be a season-long problem. 

14:58 - Tom Curran and Kayce Smith give their thoughts on Nate Burleson saying that Julian Edelman is the most under-appreciated receiver in the last 10 years.