|Celtics open training camp, Brad Stevens ready for more aggressive approach||09.30.14 at 7:04 pm ET|
The Celtics kicked off training camp Tuesday with two-a-days at the team’s training facility in Waltham. It’s somewhat of a new trend for the team, which has journeyed to Newport, Rhode Island, for training camp the last several years.
Brad Stevens had a simple state of mind as to why the team is staying local.
“Because my office is here,” he said. “The computer is there, the TV I know how to work is in the same place. The equipment guys don’t have to carry thousands of bags. The video guys don’t have to move their whole life. It made a lot more sense to stay here. … The kind of work we get done is a lot more important than anything else, like where we do it.”
Stevens indicated he may have moved things along a bit too slowly last season and wants to take a more aggressive approach this time around.
“I’ve got a great idea about how fast or how slow I need to go,” he said. “Right now, in a lot of ways I’m trying to throw as much at them as possible in the next three days and then we’ll break it down after that.”
Added Stevens: “I thought I was too gradual last year and so we’re going to be a lot quicker in that. But at the same time, at the appropriate time, after a couple of days we’ll stop and hopefully break it down.”
With Rajon Rondo out of camp with a broken hand, Stevens briefly explained the team’s point guard situation on the first day of camp: “We had three teams, Evan [Turner], Marcus [Smart] and Phil [Pressey].”
Turner is less of a true point guard than Smart and Pressey, but that doesn’t concern Stevens.
“One thing is you don’t really know [is how Turner will respond], but he’s better with the ball than not,” Stevens said, adding: “Not withstanding Rondo, he’s as good of a pick-and-roll player as we have.”
Continued Stevens: “We have one point guard healthy that has NBA experience and that’s Phil Pressey. And that’s not a lot of it. I’m not as worried about [the point guard position] because I think people are going to put you in a box for your position, and I’m just not going to do that. I’m not going to worry about it. [Turner's] a ball handler, he can make plays, he’s smart. And then I think that keeps our other guys in the positions that they’re most comfortable.”
The Celtics continue camp in Waltham all week before hosting a practice at the TD Garden on Friday for season ticket-holders.
|Rebuild Spotlight: What to expect from Marcus Smart, James Young||09.26.14 at 10:39 pm ET|
The Celtics are coming off of their worst season since 2006-07. Despite high expectations this offseason, the team is entering 2014-15 with a similar roster to last season, which comes with similar expectations. However, Brad Stevens will be in his second season as coach, Rajon Rondo
will begin the season healthy should play most of the season and Danny Ainge has added some new, young talent. But it’s still clear that the Celtics are entering yet another rebuilding season, leaving us with some major questions. We’ll try to find some answers in this five-part series called Rebuild Spotlight.
When a team has a season like the 2013-14 Celtics did, much of the conversation amongst fans shifts from the play on the court to the potential that the future holds. We’re all guilty of it. Talking about who Boston’s next star could be is just more appealing than discussing why the C’s couldn’t get it done that game, again.
The problem is, those hopes and dreams rarely come true, as was the case this offseason. It started with the idea of winning the draft lottery, which would allow the Celtics to get their hands on either of the top prospects — Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker. When that didn’t happen, the focus moved to trading for a star like Kevin Love. What actually happened wasn’t the flashiest move, but Ainge made the most of his opportunity selecting at No. 6 and 17 overall.
Many believe the Celtics selected the best available player with both of their first-round picks — Marcus Smart and James Young. The rookies came to the Celtics with completely different expectations for the upcoming season, but both figure to play huge roles Boston’s long-term success.
|Asset Management: Marcus Smart’s Celtics future||09.17.14 at 11:17 am ET|
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 Rondo, Avery 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: Marcus Smart.
We can’t blame Smart for the Celtics landing the sixth overall overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. It would’ve be nice to score Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, as the 76ers did, or Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton, as the Magic did. But the Celtics had the sixth and 17th picks — not third and 12th or fourth and 10th — so they’re banking on Smart and James Young being the best available talents at those slots, and so far at least we have no reason to believe otherwise.
The more we hear about Smart, the better fit he seems in Boston. He’s a defensive bulldog on the court, a likable character off it and a leader in both arenas, all traits the Celtics have sorely lacked since Kevin Garnett‘s departure.
If nothing else, Smart completes quite the defensive triumvirate in the backcourt. With him and Avery Bradley each capable of hounding the ball-handler, Rajon Rondo is free to gamble while defending the NBA’s dearth of off-guards — or, better yet, Smart and Bradley annoy the hell out of everyone, and they all rub off on Marcus Thornton — providing the Celtics a puncher’s chance on that end of the floor, despite the absence of a paint-protecting frontcourt.
|Scouts: Marcus Smart ‘next great perimeter defender’||09.04.14 at 11:51 am ET|
If Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge’s draft history has proven anything, it’s that he knows how to identify elite defensive guards. Since 2009, only 11 guards have made the NBA’s two All-Defensive teams, and Ainge drafted three of them: Tony Allen, Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley. According to anonymous scouts contacted by Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix, Ainge may have added another one to the list.
Next great perimeter defender, per a couple scouts I talked to this week: Marcus Smart. All the tools. Scouts love how he embraces contact.
— Chris Mannix (@ChrisMannixSI) September 3, 2014
For five straight years, a Celtic manned one of the league’s four top defensive backcourt spots — with Rondo sandwiching a pair of Second Team selections in 2009 and 2012 around two First Team nods and Bradley earning his first bid as a 2013 Second Teamer — but that streak ended last season, when Bradley’s defense took a backseat to his budding offense and Rondo’s already declining defense obviously didn’t recover faster than his knee.
Despite being teammates since 2010, Rondo and Bradley have rarely patrolled the backcourt together. Injuries robbed us of a chance to see Bradley’s on-ball defense mesh with Rondo’s gambling mentality, but the former has adapted his training regimen in hopes of preventing injury and the latter should be fully recovered from ACL surgery.
If indeed Marcus Smart emerges as a lockdown defender on the perimeter, the Celtics could field the league’s most ferocious backcourt on that end, assuming both Bradley and Rondo return to form. And that’s a pretty big deal in a league that’s recently seen the near extinction of traditional centers and a growing emphasis on point guard play.
|Irish Coffee: Celtics rookie Marcus Smart isn’t ready to start and other things we learned from Rajon Rondo’s China tour||08.27.14 at 1:55 pm ET|
Rajon Rondo is in the midst of his annual trip to China, which means more exchanges between the Celtics point guard and a media contingent that probably understands his dry humor better than Boston’s. Take this, for example.
- Hoop China: “Who’s the next Rajon Rondo?”
- Rondo: “Nobody.”
- Hoop China: Straight face.
- Rondo: “Nobody.”
- Hoop China: Smiles all around.
The folks at Red’s Army deserve an award for keeping up with the four-time NBA All-Star’s Anta tour, and fan extraordinaire @KWAPT has more Chinese sources than the CIA. For the most part, Rondo provided the same stock answers we’ve grown accustomed to — “My leadership role has grown each year” and Kevin Garnett‘s “like a big brother to me” — but his answer to a question about whether Marcus Smart could start in the backcourt this season provided some insight into his feelings about the Celtics drafting another guard with the No. 6 overall pick.
“No,” Rondo said flatly. “He’ll play a lot of minutes, but starting as a rookie at the guard position is probably impossible or one of the toughest things you can do. Only so many guards have done it in the past, especially playing at that high level, but he’ll be ready. He’ll come in ready. He seems pretty humble, and we’ll get to work.”
Avery Bradley is probably Rondo’s closest confidant on the team, so it should come as no surprise he knocked Smart down a notch, but his response also suggests he fully expects to start the season on the Celtics. Still, the roster’s youth with the additions of Smart and James Young seems to be a sticking point for Rondo.
|Marcus Smart is the Leonardo of NBA rookies||08.05.14 at 11:21 am ET|
If nothing else, the Celtics appear to have the league’s most likable rookie in Marcus Smart. (Unless, of course, you’re a Texas Tech fan.) He conducted a scavenger hunt for SportsNation during the NBA’s Rookie Photo Shoot, and the results are fairly hilarious. Let’s take a moment to appreciate a few of the highlights.
- The pantsing of Oklahoma State teammate Markel Brown wasn’t bad, although that’s old hat to Celtics fans, since Ron Artest once pantsed Paul Pierce during a game.
- I just like the idea of eating snacks with Shabazz Napier. That should be its own show.
- Smart held his own in that arm wrestling contest with Mitch McGary for a bit.
- The forehead alley-oop to James Young proves Smart is already learning from Rajon Rondo.
- If I’m breaking down the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles powwow, Smart is Leonardo, since he’s leading this entire operation, Adreian Payne is Donatello (does machines), Gary Harris is Raphael (cool but crude) and Cleanthony Early is Michaelangelo (party dude). This isn’t up for debate.
|Irish Coffee: James Young’s love of cheeseburgers, other things we learned from Celtics rookie photo shoot||08.04.14 at 11:07 am ET|
Once you’ve digested the photos above courtesy of the league’s various social media channels, let’s take a look at some of the highlights from Smart and Young’s contributions to the rookie class AMA on Reddit.