By Jessica Camerato
Over the years, the Celtics have watched young talent emerge as veterans were sidelined with injuries. Glen Davis is the most prominent example on the current squad, establishing himself two years ago after Kevin Garnett was sidelined.
This season, the Cs have been bit by the injury bug . . . over and over again, from hampered big men to hobbled guards. The Celtics have had to turn to their rookies to fill voids on the court.
While injuries present Avery Bradley, Semih Erden, and Luke Harangody with the opportunity for playing time, minutes are inconsistent once their teammates return to the court.
The Celtics rookies discussed with CSNNE.com how they have adjusted to the uncertainty of playing time and are finding ways to grow even when they arent in the game.
Erden began his professional basketball in Europe when he was a teenager. This summer he played for the Turkish National Team in the 2010 FIBA Tournament, including 18 minutes in the championship game against the United States. After starting four games this season in place of Shaquille ONeal, Erden has not played since December 22. That isnt stopping him, though, from enjoying his rookie season in the NBA.
I just keep working, thats it, Erden said. I have to work. I have to be ready. Im patient and wait my turn. I take my time so I can show my best. Thats it. Just work, work, work . . . I dont get frustrated. Im good because we have a lot of experienced guys. I learn everything right now and I know everything because its been like four months. Im watching and enjoying because we won the game and everybody played good and we are teammates . . . I have a good attitude because this is a chance but Im happy. Im happy to be here.
Bradley was only 19 years old when he was selected by the Celtics with the 19th pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. After ranking as the second-leading scorer at the University of Texas last season, he is adapting to his new role in the pros. As the youngest player on a veteran squad, Bradley is learning how to stay ready from his teammates.
I listen to the older guys, Bradley said. They always preach to us, Always stay ready. Not only them, the coaches do as well. All the time, the rookies are always ready to go into the game whenever our names are called. It shows that we are ready and paying attention when we do get in because at this level and on this team, you dont really have much room for mistakes. Playing time does come and go but when we do get the opportunity, we want to make the best of it.
Im here for whatever they need me to do. Even if Doc Rivers called me in for one second to go, Im going to be ready to play. Its tough - I was coming from playing a lot to not playing, but it definitely shows how much you can learn not playing and I just take advantage of it and try to learn from these other guys so when I do get my chance, Ill be ready.
Of all three rookies, Harangody has seen the most playing time as of late. With Kevin Garnett (calf) sidelined, Harangody has played in every game since his injury. Minutes, though, have fluctuated from less than 5 to more than 15. This second-round pick from Notre Dame is putting in extra time on off days to stay prepared for game night.
I just come in, work out every day, get with the coaches on days off, he said. I get with strength coaches to get your cardio in and conditioning in because you never know. The other night I played 16 minutes and Wednesday I played four. You just never know. Thats the life of a rookie.
Its just one of those things were youve got to keep in the gym, got to keep up with our workouts, because if you slip up a little bit and then something happens like with Kevin, I get a little playing time. Now if I wasnt ready, none of those minutes would have happened . . . Obviously everyone wants to play or everyone wants to be part of the team and help the team, but you realize the situation youre in here and you take what you can. You take every opportunity you get and you try to make the best of them.
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