Powe happy he chose Grizzlies

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Powe happy he chose Grizzlies

By JessicaCamerato
CSNNE.com

BOSTON - Leon Powe is one of the NBAs nice guys.

From his personal success story of thriving out of the foster care system to his professional success story of bouncing back from injury upon injury, Powe has displayed resiliency with a firm dedication and a warm smile on his face.

In spite of all the feel-good stories in the league, though, basketball is still a business, not a game of emotions. There comes a point when its time to think with your head and not your heart. That time arrived for Powe this season.

After finding himself riding the bench for the majority of the season with the Cleveland Cavaliers, it was time for a change of scenery. The organization waived Powe in February, making him available to join another team.

He immediately thought of the Boston Celtics.

This was the team that had given him his first start and the city that embraced his relentless effort. Two years after signing with the Cavaliers, he still had high regard for the Celtics' organization, as well as an appreciation for the fans who played such a big role in the Celtics' NBA championships.

"Ill be happy wherever I end up, but Boston is always holding a special place in my heart," Powe told CSNNE.com shortly after being waived. "The fans were so good to me, everybody up there was so nice, and it would be a great thing to return back to the Celtics if I could."

Even though Celtics always appreciated Powes efforts during his time in green, there were all those nagging injuries that plagued him throughout his career. The team needed to win now -- and with all the healthy bodies they could get. Powe had recovered from a torn right meniscus only weeks before he was waived.

When the Celtics signed forward Troy Murphy, the most highly sought-after free agent on the market, Powe realized he had to move on from the possibility of returning to Boston. At 27 years old, he needed stability and an opportunity to play.

He knew dwelling on what could have been in Boston wouldn't do him any good.

Once they signed him, it was pretty easy what they were saying -- they wanted Troy Murphy over me, Powe said. And they still had a lot of bigs here on the Celtics, so I was just like, Ive got to move on and Ive got to go somewhere else so I can at least get some type of playing time, some type of run. I didnt want to come over here and just sit down on the bench the whole time the rest of the season and be back in the same situation.

He added with a laugh, Like I said, I love all the fans, love everybody, but when it comes down to it, my little baby needs Pull-Ups.

The Memphis Grizzlies were one of the first teams that had expressed interest when Powe became available. He remembers things like that.

He took a look at his suitors, which also included in the New York Knicks, and assessed the best situation for this season and his future. He was attracted to the Grizzlies low-post game, to which he thought he could contribute, and their interest in size.

Memphis, I looked at their roster and they were rotating three bigs and they were an up-and-coming young team, he said. They were one of the first ones to call me when everything went down, and I respect that about them. And I knew general manager and vice-president of basketball operations) Chris Wallace already a little bit.

I was talking to a number of different teams. I think for the other teams, they wanted me to wait a little bit more. I had a team that I felt I could help and as they were waiting for me, I wasnt going to keep them waiting any longer. So I met with them and made it happen, and its been a good look for me. A real good look for me.

A real good look for Powe, indeed.

On Wednesday night he scored 13 points (5-6 FG) in 17 minutes off the bench as the Grizzlies beat the Celtics, 90-87. Nine of those points came in the first half alone. He hit the basket hard, took charges, and got to the line.

"Leon Powe was the baddest man on the planet tonight," said Doc Rivers.

Powe recalled Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins told his team to attack, and he was happy to oblige.

"Attack, thats what I like to do, so I said Im going to be a little bit extra aggressive tonight and see if I can force the issue a little bit, he said.

After watching the Cavaliers from the bench for the first half of the season, Powe hopes to look toward the playoffs with the Grizzlies. Their win against the Celtics gave them a two-game lead over the Houston Rockets for the eighth spot in the Western Conference.

Powe always believed that, when given the opportunity, he could help a club play postseason basketball. He looks to be on that path in Memphis.

It just proves to me that I made the right decision, he told CSNNE.com. I think things happen for a reason, and I think I was sent over here for a reason. I think what Ive been doing here in the last few weeks, helping this team, and helping our young guys understand the defensive principals too, I can bring a lot to this team and thats what I try to do.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter athttp:twitter.comjcameratoNBA

Brown knows there's a lot he can learn from Celtics teammates

Brown knows there's a lot he can learn from Celtics teammates

WALTHAM, Mass. – It was the first official day of Jaylen Brown’s NBA education.

So like most youngsters on the first day of school, he wanted to make a favorable impression.

Showing up three-plus hours early? Yup. That’ll help. But punctuality will only take you so far.

As eager as he is to play, Brown is well aware that much of what he’ll be doing the first few days will be centered around learning.

“It’s a lot of stuff I have to learn,” Brown admitted in an interview with CSNNE.com. “We have a lot of experience on the floor. I want to be a sponge to these older guys as long as I am here. And keep adapting, keep growing every day in practice and get better.”

Having a steady thirst for improvement is an essential for any player coming into the NBA, but especially for a 19-year-old like Brown.

Avery Bradley was the 19th overall pick in the 2010 NBA draft and like Brown, he was just 19 years old coming into the league.

When I asked him what he wishes he knew as a rookie that he eventually learned over time, Bradley was succinct with his answer.

“Confidence,” he told CSNNE.com. “Just having more confidence. I wish I had more confidence in myself.”

Of course if you recall, Bradley spent his rookie season coming off the bench behind Ray Allen, one of the best shooting guards of his era who will someday wind up in the Naismith Hall of Fame.

There were others Bradley had to outperform just to get a shot at playing behind Ray Allen.

“There was Ray Allen, and Delonte West and Von Wafer,” said Bradley who added, “I was behind everybody and then we got Nate Robinson too.”

While the depth chart isn’t quite that deep for Brown, there’s no question he will have to hold his own and probably outplay a couple bodies in order to get a steady diet of playing time as a rookie.

“I love challenges,” Brown said. “This game is a beautiful game. I have a lot of people to compete and challenge me every day.  It’s exciting. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking forward to coming out on top.”

Celtics forward/center Amir Johnson was 18 years old when the Detroit Pistons selected him straight out of high school in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft.

Johnson said he has been impressed with what he has seen from Brown the past couple of weeks during pick-up games and workouts.

And while it helps to have veterans around, Brown’s growth in this league will ultimately come down to how much he’s willing to listen and learn.

“If you’re a teen that wants to work and listen, sit back and be quiet,” Johnson told CSNNE.com. “I was that teen willing to listen and learn, willing to do whatever anybody told me to do. I listened to my veterans and my coaches, come in the gym early and stay late. I had a lot of help to get where I’m at today.”

That said, Brown will still have his naysayers who will focus on his youth, inexperience along with Boston’s depth as reasons for him to not do much early on his career.

Bradley knows a thing or two about that.

In Bradley’s second year with the Celtics he was in the starting lineup ahead of Allen which was one of many roles Bradley has been able to play surprisingly better than anticipated.

Bradley recalls how opposing players often think he is either shorter or doesn’t have as long a wingspan as they would expect.

“That plays to my advantage,” he said. “Everybody thinks I’m short or I’m not long. People are going to say the same thing about Jaylen. A lot of people think he can’t do this, can’t do that. That’s the part about this game I love; you can surprise people and that’s what I think he’s going to do.”

Stevens’ first practice observation: ‘We’re going to be able to fly around’

Stevens’ first practice observation: ‘We’re going to be able to fly around’

WALTHAM, Mass. –  Before the Celtics fully stretched prior to their first practice of the season, coach Brad Stevens had his players go 5-on-5 in a not-live breakdown while going at about 30 percent full speed or similar to what they would do in a walk-through.

“If that was 30 percent, we’re going to be able to fly around,” said Stevens. “I think it was just a misjudging of what 30 percent is. They were flying early on in practice. We have to be able to fully rotate, we have to guard different positions, you gotta be able to read the game instinctively and obviously there’s an athletic component that allows you to do so effectively.”

Regardless, the Celtics are a team that will rely more on their athleticism in past seasons in order to be effective and live up to the lofty expectations so many have for them this season.

“We have a real good team, real athletic at a lot of spots,” Celtics forward Amir Johnson told CSNNE.com. “We definitely got a couple more high-flyers in the building this year.”

He’s speaking about Gerald Green, a former Slam Dunk champion, and Jaylen Brown, who is considered one of the more athletic players among this year’s rookie class.

And that athleticism was indeed on display in the early moments of the team’s first practice of the season.

But what makes the Celtics a team that could potentially be a major player in the East, is that the increased athleticism is now married to a team whose skill level is underrated.

Talent and athleticism is certainly a bonus for any team.

But the Celtics know the road to being among the game’s elite is long and winding, a journey that they are just beginning to embark on right now.

And while there are plenty of directions that Stevens can put a greater focus on in these early days, it doesn’t appear the Celtics' leader will go that route.

“We’ve got a lot being installed,” Stevens said. “We’ll keep the emphasis on being a blue-collar team and playing together.”