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James Young begins earning his role with the Celtics after breaking out against Hornets 01.06.15 at 9:00 am ET
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James Young had played 18 minutes on the entire season entering Monday night’s game against the Hornets. His last appearance on an NBA court was when he played two minutes in a blowout against the Lakers on Dec 5. Since then, Young has missed time with a shoulder injury and spent time playing for the Maine Red Claws in the D-League.

Monday night was a coming out party for the No. 17 overall pick in this past June’s draft. Young matched his season total by playing 18 minutes in the game against Charlotte, coming up huge by nearly leading the Celtics to a comeback victory. In the second half alone the rookie played 15 minutes, pouring in 13 points on 5-for-6 shooting, while going 3-for-4 from downtown. Young’s finest moment came on a 3-pointer he hit in the fourth quarter to cut the Hornets’ lead to just six points, the smallest it would get after being as many as 22 points.

“I just tried to take every shot with confidence,” Young said following the game. “After one fell I just tried to go for another, and another and that’s how I’ve been playing all my life so I just tried to stick with it.”

Young has been sent to the D-League often of late, playing major minutes for the Red Claws when asked to. In eight games Young has averaged 22.4 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1.5 steals in 32.6 minutes of action. He has also been practically automatic from beyond the arc, shooting 35-of-73 in those eight games. His experience seems to be paying off, though.

“I was king of nervous when I first got in. [It was] My first time playing, really, in the regular season,” said Young of his jitters. “I was just trying to go out there in the second half and just be aggressive, everyone told me to be aggressive.”

So did Young get advice from anyone in specific before his breakout game?

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5 things we learned in the Celtics’ loss to the Hornets 01.05.15 at 10:00 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

Fresh off of an overtime loss in Chicago, the Celtics returned home on Monday to face the underachieving Hornets at TD Garden. Part of the problem for Charlotte has been injuries, as they were without both Lance Stephenson and former Celtic Al Jefferson for this contest.

Jefferson played a huge role in the Hornets’ 96-87 victory over the C’s back on Dec. 10 in Charlotte, finishing with 23 points and 14 rebounds. Boston was out for revenge this time around, however, they didn’t find it on Monday.

Kemba Walker was dominant for the Hornets in their 104-95 win over the Celtics, seemingly finding a bucket every time the Celtics started to claw back. Walker finished with 33 points to go with five boards and five helpers. Click here for the full box score.

Here’s five things we learned in the loss:

BRAD STEVENS PLAYED EVERY AVAILABLE CELTIC

Ever since the Rajon Rondo trade Stevens has been tinkering around with all kinds of rotations. In the last two games this meant playing 11 different players double-digit minutes. On Monday it meant playing all 13 of his available players (Marcus Thornton and Jameer Nelson sat with injuries) during meaningful action.

“No idea. I think tonight was more of an anomaly because I was throwing darts. I can act like I know the answer to your question but I was throwing darts,” said Stevens.

Gerald Wallace saw minutes in the second half, and rather than filling in for Nelson by letting players in the rotation play more, Phil Pressey stepped in to take Nelson’s role. Playing 13 players before a game even turns into a blowout says a lot about a rotation, mostly negative things. Eventually, Stevens is going to have to pick a direction with this team and establish a rotation that allows his players to find more of a rhythm.

JAMES YOUNG FINALLY BROKE OUT

After going back-and-forth between playing big minutes for the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League and riding the bench for the Celtics, 19-year-old rookie James Young played when in mattered for the first time in weeks. Young came in to play the last three minutes of the first half, but didn’t come in gunning like he has done so far in his career.

That all changed in the second half, as Young scored 13 points in 13 minutes on 5-for-6 shooting in the second half alone (including 3-for-4 from downtown), nearly leading the Celtics to a comeback victory. It’s just one game, but Young was masterful on offense, and even played aggressive on the defensive side of the ball. Young is definitely a player to watch going forward as this performance may have carved him out a spot in Stevens’ wild rotation going forward.

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D-tales from the D-League: James Young shines, Marcus Smart struggles 12.05.14 at 12:26 pm ET
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James Young played the best game of his professional career, scoring 31 points and pulling down nine boards for the Maine Red Claws in Thursday’s 110-106 win over the Fort Wayne Mad Ants. Young was efficient, shooting 9-for-15 from the field, including 7-for-10 from beyond the arc. He still had some defensive lapses, but his shooting stroke was quite impressive.

Fellow Celtics rookie Marcus Smart struggled in his first Red Claws appearance. Turns out he can’t shoot in the D-League either, as he missed his first 11 shots.

Dwight Powell had a great fourth quarter, getting to the rim with ease. He was an efficient 9-for-14 and finished with 21 points.

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James Young, Dwight Powell impress in D-League debuts 11.17.14 at 1:19 pm ET
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James Young

James Young

The Celtics sent rookies James Young and Dwight Powell to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League this past weekend. Both players made their debuts Sunday and showed why the Celtics feel so strongly about them.

Young and Powell were in the starting lineup and played big minutes as expected (36 and 38, respectively). They shared the role of leading scorer, each dropping 21 points, but in far different fashion.

Young stayed mostly on the perimeter, shooting 3-for-11 from downtown and 7-for-19 from the field overall. He added five rebounds, two assists and two steals while showing some hustle on the defensive side of the ball. We already know that Young is gifted offensively, so it was good to see him display so much effort on his defense — something that he will need to earn minutes in Boston.

Powell, on the other hand, was a force around the rim. He shot 9-for-16 while ripping down 17 boards to go along with a pair of assists. It was nice to finally see what Powell is capable of, as he has had literally no chance to do so outside of practice with the Celtics (Young has at least played limited minutes on occasion). He also was very strong on defense, displaying great quickness for a 6-foot-11 player. Powell has the ability to defend in the paint but also get out and cover the perimeter, something that could be valuable when he gets the chance to try to earn minutes in the NBA.

The Red Claws beat the Fort Wayne Mad Ants, 81-80, if you care about the final outcome.

It’s just one game, but it was a strong first showing for both Young and Powell, who figure to be back and forth between Boston and Maine this season. Both were recalled back to the Celtics on Monday morning.

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Asset Management: James Young’s Celtics future 10.10.14 at 6:01 pm ET
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I think we can all agree the Celtics won’€™t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon RondoAvery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’€™s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’€™s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’€™s pieces in a series we’€™ll call Asset Management. Next up: James Young.

James Young

James Young

Young’s received an awful lot of praise before he’s played a regular-season NBA game. It’s curious how analysts already determined he’s the next Paul Pierce, Ray Allen or Bradley Beal, or why Comcast commentators questioned Avery Bradley‘s signing since Young is so clearly the starting shooting guard in waiting.

It’s a wonder he slipped to No. 17 in the draft. Maybe all they needed to see was his 20-point performance in the national title game, since a season-long look at Young’s Kentucky production reveals a worse true shooting percentage (53.6) than Marcus Smart (55.2), the other Celtics rookie whose stroke has been roundly criticized. Or maybe Young’s 3-for-8 effort in his preseason debut was enough to anoint him, since he missed all of Summer League with a concussion.

Truth is, James Young is a project. At the end of the 19-year-old’s assignment, we may look back on him as a steal. But odds are Danny Ainge didn’t find the next great Celtic in the latter half of the first round, especially since the C’s president has long stated that fewer stars existed in the 2014 draft than most believed.

Still, the early returns on Young are encouraging, at least from his coach’s perspective.

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Why you should care about Monday’s Celtics game: Marcus Smart, James Young debut; Evan Turner shines 10.06.14 at 10:29 pm ET
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As if the start of basketball season starting up wasn’t reason enough for you to care about the Celtics‘ preseason opener on Monday night, then Marcus Smart and James Young making their NBA debuts — and leading the Celtics to an easy 98-78 victory over the 76ers — should be. (See the box score here.)

Smart spoke before the game about being nervous: “Of course, [there’s] always nerves,” he said. “First game at a different level, there’s always going to be nerves, but [I’ve] just got to figure out how to calm them down.”

His nerves were evident as he finished with just two points (0-8 FGs). Despite not shooting the ball particularly well, his effort on both ends of the floor was unmatched. He played lockdown defense on each and every possession coming up with three steals in the process. Although his shots weren’t falling, Smart did a good job running the offense, particularly leading the fast break. He ended up with six assists in his 27 minutes.

Young began the game cold, and his nerves were perhaps most evident when he missed his first two free throws just moments after stepping onto the floor. But he picked up the slack in the second half and was able to finish in double figures with 10 points on 3-8 shooting. Young was just 1-5 from 3-point land, but had several unlucky bounces off the iron.

OTHER REASONS YOU SHOULD HAVE CARED ABOUT MONDAY’S GAME

Evan Turner shined while playing multiple positions.

In the absence of Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green, Turner was exactly what the Celtics needed to fill both roles. Turner started the game at small forward and started the second half at point guard for Brad Stevens, yet was the C’s best player regardless of position. Turner flirted with a triple-double in his 31 minutes, posting 15 points and 10 rebounds to go along with six assists.

Jared Sullinger still is a rebounding machine.

Sullinger got the start at power forward and was his usual self in terms of crashing the glass. Like much of the team, Sullinger did not shoot the ball well (4-15 FGs) but he still found ways to be effective. Sullinger ripped down 13 boards and still managed to score 10 points.

There still are some veterans who can score.

Not many people came into this season excited about Brandon Bass or Marcus Thornton, but they can both still fill it up. Bass finished with 15 points and nine rebounds in just over 19 minutes of action, while Thornton scored 14 in only 14 minutes off the bench. Bass and Thornton don’t figure to be a big part of the future in Boston, but with both of their contracts expiring at season’s end, their strong play makes them both viable trade candidates.

The Celtics will take on the Knicks in Hartford on Wednesday night.

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Celtics rookie James Young ‘definitely’ doesn’t see himself going to D-League 09.30.14 at 12:33 pm ET
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Celtics rookie James Young knows he has a lot to learn in his first season, but he’d rather his classroom be the bench in Boston than the court in Portland, Maine. When asked if he’d welcome the possibility of playing 30 minutes a game for the Maine Red Claws — the C’s NBA Developmental League affiliate — Young was less than enthused.

“Definitely not,” Young said from the Celtics media day in Waltham on Monday, adding, “If it happens, it happens, but I just want to stay here and get better like that.”

While Maine may not be the most tantalizing of destinations for the first-round pick from Kentucky, it may be he best opportunity to develop his skills. Young is only 19 years old, and given the number of swingmen the Celtics have on the roster, it’€™s difficult to imagine him getting a lot of playing time early in the season.

Young will look to impress coaches during training camp and preseason, but if he’s unable to prove that he’s NBA ready, it’€™s likely he’ll quickly become familiar with America’€™s Vacationland.

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