|Why Kris Joseph deserves the 15th Celtics roster spot (Part One)||08.12.12 at 8:00 am ET|
Montreal manufactures hockey players, and business is good. Except if you’re Kris Joseph.
So, when the late second-round Celtics pick in this summer’s NBA draft arrived stateside as a 17-year-old high school junior in search of a basketball education, the jet lag lasted a little longer than usual.
“He was pretty lazy,” admitted Clinton Perrow, who coached Joseph for two prep seasons at Archbishop Carroll (Washington, D.C.) from 2006-08. “A lot of things came to him without a whole lot of effort. Early on, he didn’t see the need for conditioning because the game came so easily for him.”
Still, no coach questioned Joseph’s potential. Not as an inexperienced junior. Not as ESPNU’s No. 50 overall senior recruit in the Class of 2008. Not during a collegiate career that culminated in a Wooden Award finalist bid in his fourth and final season at Syracuse. And not when he fell all the way to the Celtics at No. 52 in the draft.
“When you see him, you know he’s a player,” said Curtis Malone, president of the D.C. Assault AAU program that recruited Joseph in 2006. “And we didn’t have to see him much to say, ‘We’ve gotta get this guy on our team.’ There were so many moments that made you say, ‘Wow, this kid is really, really good.’ He’s a talent.”
Six years later, Joseph joins undrafted rookies Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith in a three-man battle for the final two spots on the C’s 15-man roster. And he still may not have realized that full potential.
“He hadn’t played lot of high-level ball until his last two years of high school, so once he puts everything together this kid has so much talent that the upside is huge for him,” said Syracuse assistant Adrian Autry, who served as Joseph’s positional coach this past season and faced him as a high school assistant at Paul VI (Fairfax, Va.). “He played basketball, but not at that level and not every day. Hockey is the sport in Canada, so once he got into that type of environment where he was playing at a high level and playing every day, he was very impressive.”
Joseph’s skill set, for the most part, hasn’t changed all that much since he made the 600-mile mission from Montreal to Washington, D.C. How seriously he approaches his craft, however, has evolved dramatically.
“After summer league, I had to take a little time off, just for my body,” said Joseph during an appearance last week at the Boston Celtics Shamrock Foundation’s Summer Soiree. “Two summer leagues was kind of grueling, but it was a great experience overall. I’ve just been working out, trying to maintain my body. I’ve been making sure I’ve been eating the right things and doing things the right way, just so I can work out. This is a job, so you’ve got to make sure you do things the right way, especially with your body.”
In a way, when Celtics training camp commences at September’s end, Joseph’s story is only just beginning.
|Rest for the weary and other Celtics summer league notes||07.18.12 at 3:11 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — After playing seven games in nine days, the Celtics’ summer league team is getting the day off. After knocking off the Bulls, 79-74, on Tuesday night, they have now won six of their seven games and both in Vegas. It’s a credit to coach Ty Lue, who has done a terrific job getting a dozen guys who just met to play hard and play as a team, while also finding time for a 10-man rotation each night.
“If you’re going to put on a Celtics uniform you’ve got to play hard every night,” Lue said. “KG, Paul [Pierce], [Rajon] Rondo and Doc [Rivers], they’re not going to accept anything less.”
On Tuesday, it was E’Twaun Moore‘s time to shine. The second-year guard has been their most consistent performer throughout summer league and the Bulls’ game was his best to day. Moore hit 10-of-19 shots and scored 25 points including five key points down the stretch when the Bulls cut into a double-digit lead.
The Celtics have until midnight on Sunday to guarantee the second-year of his contract and he’s made strong case for not only sticking with the team, but also getting a chance to earn a rotation spot. While he’s not a natural point guard, Moore has played with his trademark calmness and rarely gets rattled. He’s been solid with the ball outside of a four-turnover effort against the Pistons in Orlando in the C’s only loss.
Tuesday’s game played directly to his strengths as Jared Sullinger battled through a 3-for-15 shooting night and the C’s needed a scorer.
“E’Twaun is trying to be a point guard, but he’s a natural scorer,” Lue said. “It’s a fine line between the two, but we know he can score and attack. With Jared shooting 3-for-15 tonight, he had to step up and score. That’s what point guards do. If guys are rolling you’ve got to give him the ball. If they’re not, then you have to step up and score.”
Despite a tough night offensively, Sullinger drew praise for continuing to attack the glass. He pulled down 14 rebounds, including five on the offensive glass. Fellow forward JaJuan Johnson also hit the boards, pulling down 12 rebounds in his strongest rebounding effort of the summer session. Read the rest of this entry »
|Jared Sullinger is sort of looking forward to talking to Kevin Garnett||07.16.12 at 8:26 pm ET|
LAS VEGAS — Jared Sullinger‘s game is as uncomplicated as it is earth-bound. He doesn’t have the athleticism of most of his opponents, but once he gets a feel he finds ways to compensate. Of all the good things about his game, Sullinger simply plays right through defenders and forces them to foul.
After scoring just five points in the first half, Sullinger found his rhythm in the second half of the Celtics’ 87-69 victory over the Hawks and he did his best work at the free throw line where he made seven of his eight attempts. He also knocked down a wide-open 3-pointer (emphasis on wide open).
Now that we’ve established that Sullinger can play in the NBA, it’s time for him to work on his weaknesses. First and foremost, he needs to get in better shape. “I know for a fact I’m getting in better shape with all the games were playing so everything is starting to come easy,” he said.
It won’t be nearly as easy this fall when the Celtics gather for training camp and Sullinger is already anticipating his first meeting with Kevin Garnett.
“I still have a lot to learn so I hope Kevin Garnett is ready for me,” he said.
Asked is he was looking forward to it, Sullinger said, “Yeah, but at the same time, no. It’s probably going to be all the things I don’t do well versus all the things I do well … which I need.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Summer league truths and questions||07.11.12 at 3:36 pm ET|
ORLANDO — The well-worn maxim of summer league play is this: It’s not possible to tell who can play for real in the NBA, but it is possible to tell who can’t. Through three games, there have been few surprise for the Celtics and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Jared Sullinger is a good basketball player, who will compensate for his lack of athleticism with smart play and strong skills. E’Twaun Moore is confidently taking the reins of the team. Fab Melo is active, but raw. Kris Joseph has good skills across the board. JaJuan Johnson has remained an enigma, but he started to hit his stride in the second half of their third game on Wednesday, an 85-77 win over the Pacers.
The good news thus far is that each of them has flashed an NBA skill, but obvious questions remain. Here’s a thumbnail look at each prospect:
The raw numbers are decent — 14.7 points, 8.7 rebounds and 11-for-12 from the free throw line — but what has really stood about Sullinger’s game is his feel for rebounding and his ability to pass out of double teams. While concerns about his less-than-ideal physique are legitimate, he’s been able to compensate with his skills, which are numerous.
“He’s a great passer, good rebounder, always in the right position as far as rebounding the ball,” C’s coach Ty Lue said. “He’s going to be good for us.”
Sullinger went 7-for-12 from the floor against the Pacers, operating mostly out of the low post where he is clearly comfortable. The Celtics have not had back-to-the-basket presence like Sullinger since the glory days of Leon Powe, but where Powe was intent on bulling his way to the basket, Sullinger has been able to read the play and make the appropriate pass.
“Getting double-teamed for the majority of your life, you’ve got to learn how to pass,” Sullinger said. “If you didn’t know how to pass, I wouldn’t be here right now.”
He has also shown a knack for getting to rebounds, something that is a major need for the Celtics. At the moment, he’s clearly the most NBA-ready of their roster players this summer.
The question: How much will his lack of athleticism hinder him against NBA competition?
Sullinger has proven he can play at a high level in high school, college and now here in summer league. The larger test awaits. Read the rest of this entry »
|Gerry McNamara on D&C: Fab Melo’s potential is ‘scary’||07.03.12 at 10:45 am ET|
Syracuse assistant basketball coach Gerry McNamara joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning to talk about former Orange players Fab Melo and Kris Joseph, both of whom selected by the Celtics in last week’s NBA draft. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Melo, the 7-foot-0 center who the Celtics took with the No. 22 overall pick, is just scratching the surface of his potential, according to McNamara, who saw signs of his development during his two years at Syracuse.
“He’s very early, really, really early in his career and really I think just started to play the game within the last four or five years,” McNamara said. “[It’s] kind of scary potentially to think what Fab can do really with what he did in one year of development with us.”
McNamara believes the presence of veterans on the Celtics, especially Kevin Garnett, will aid in Melo’s development and maturity.
“He’s going to be playing with some of the best that have ever played, especially when you talk about Kevin Garnett and what he’s been able to do in the game and from his position and his intensity,” McNamara said. “So I think from a development process, that’s probably one of the best guys he can be around. I think that’s the biggest thing is, just the intelligence level. The intelligence level of the Boston team is such a high IQ team. It might take Fab a minute to really adjust to that, but if you’re going to be around that, you want to be around the best and he certainly is.
“I think that’s really the stage of where he needs to develop. He’s going to develop. He’s going to develop offensively, I think defensively he’s already ahead of the curve, but as far as the IQ stuff, the X’s and O’s things, I think he’s around great people that will help him ease into that process.”
|NBA Draft’s Potential Celtics: Syracuse SF Kris Joseph||06.16.12 at 10:15 am ET|
As part of WEEI.com’s coverage of the 2012 NBA draft, we are profiling all players considered likely candidates to be drafted June 28. The Celtics own three picks: 21, 22 (from the Thunder in the Kendrick Perkins trade) and 51.
Position: Small forward
Weight: 215 pounds
Achievements: 2012 All-Big East first team, 2012 Wooden Award finalist, 2012 Naismith Trophy finalist, 2010 Big East Sixth Man Award
What he brings: Joseph may not be the quickest forward in the draft, but he showed his worth in scoring through a four-year career with Syracuse. When the Orange went 34-3 in 2011-12, the small forward led his team in points. He averaged a team-high 13.4 points per game, had a field goal conversion rate of 42.1 percent and grabbed 4.7 rebounds per game.
Joseph also has the ability to find the free throw line and turn those chances into points. He took a team-high 157 shots from the line, finishing the season with a 74.5 percent conversion rate.
The 496 points he recorded his senior season helped him become a member of Syracuse’s 1,000-point club.
Where the Celtics could get him: Joseph is projected to go late in the first round, so the Celtics should have the option to use one of their two first-round picks on him.
Notes: Growing up in Montreal, Joseph played basketball in his house with his older brother, Maurice (who played two years at Vermont after transferring from Michigan State). Kris moved to Washington, D.C., after his sophomore year of high school to improve his basketball portfolio. … Joseph’s role with Syracuse increased over the course of his career, as he didn’t start many games as a freshman or a sophomore. Starting 37 games as a senior, he came a long way from the sophomore who started just four of 35 games.
Video: Here’s a mix of Joseph highlights.