Checking in on Celtics' foreign-born first-rounders

Checking in on Celtics' foreign-born first-rounders

BOSTON -- There’s a fine line that the Boston Celtics are always trying to balance when it comes to competing in the present while building towards the future.
Which is why they used two of their first-round picks from this summer's NBA draft to select a pair of foreign-born players that they have stashed with teams overseas.
Both players, competing in different leagues internationally, have made an impact.
Guerschon Yabusele, taken by Boston with the 16th overall pick, has played well for the undefeated Shanghai Sharks (5-0) of the Chinese Basketball Association with their average margin of victory being by 14 points.
Yabusele is averaging 16.0 points and 9.4 rebounds while shooting 44.7 percent from the field and 37.0 percent from 3-point range.
The 6-foot-7, 260-ish pound big fella has shown a nice soft touch from the free throw line where he has shot 88.9 percent
Ante Zizic, selected by Boston with the 23rd overall pick, has been just as impressive.
The 6-11 forward/center plays for Kk Cibona which competes in the Adriatic Basketball Association, a league that has delivered some of the more promising young bigs from the international scene.
And Zizic has been a dominant player, leading the ABA in scoring (21.3 points) and rebounds (9.0) per game this season.
Here’s a look at him earlier this season showcasing a wide array of skills at both ends of the floor.
When the Celtics drafted them, the plan was to have them play a year overseas and re-evaluate whether to bring them over for the 2017-2018 season.
To their credit, both players are making a strong case that they are ready to at least compete for a roster spot right now.
It doesn’t do any good to get caught up in the numbers that both players are registering overseas.
More telling is how their skills that made Boston so high on them, is translating against relatively high level international competition.
Fans had a chance to see Yabusele in the preseason when the Sharks played the Houston Rockets.
Yabusele and his Sharks teammates were soundly beaten 131-94, but Yabusele had a solid performance with a double-double of 24 points and 12 rebounds
Here’s a look at Yabusele from earlier this season against CBA competition. This includes him knocking down a couple shots over ex-NBAer Carlos Boozer, who plays for the Guangdong.


NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

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NBC Sports Boston Breakfast Pod: Kyrie Irving getting second opinion on injured knee

1:15 - A. Sherrod Blakely joins Gary Tanguay and Trenni Kusnierek to discuss Kyrie Irving getting a second opinion on his injured knee and what the Kyrie’s options are for the remainder of the season.

5:53 - Kyle Draper and Brian Scalabrine break down the Celtics stunning last second comeback win over the Thunder with multiple key players sitting out.

10:27 - Tom Curran and Jerod Mayo stop by Early Edition to play a game of Fill in the Blank that involves Gronkowski’s contract and the Patriots best offseason acquisition.



Morris caps off improbable comeback vs Thunder

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Morris caps off improbable comeback vs Thunder

BOSTON – Marcus Morris has never been one to lack for confidence, regardless of time or score.

So with the game on the line, Morris … hesitated?

Uh, not exactly. 

It was a pump fake to create just enough space to launch what would become a game-winning 3-pointer that lifted Boston to an improbable 100-99 win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

Morris was asked about his uh, hesitation before draining the first game-winner of his NBA career.

“Hesitation? I don’t even know how to spell that (bleep),” quipped Morris. 

Morris arrived in Boston as a two-way talent via trade from Detroit, whose strength was more at the defensive end of the floor.

But with Kyrie Irving (left knee soreness) and Jaylen Brown (concussion) both out, Morris has emerged as one of the team’s primary scoring options. 

“He’s another huge part of our team moving forward,” said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens. “If you’re counting on 13 or 14 (points) from him, now we’re counting on 16 or 18.”

Here are the Stars, Studs and Duds from Boston’s 100-99 win over Oklahoma City. 


Marcus Morris: Even before he drained the game-winning basket, Morris was having a good night for the Celtics. He finished with 21 points on 8-for-13 shooting to go with four rebounds and one steal.

Jayson Tatum: He has looked to score more now with key players sidelined, and the Celtics will be better for this long-term. Tatum had 21 points and 11 rebounds for Boston. And being 20 years and 17 days old, he became the youngest player in franchise history to have a game of at least 20 points and 10 rebounds, bettering the previous record set by Antoine Walker (20 years and 165 days old on Jan. 24, 1997.

Russell Westbrook: A normal night for Russell Westbrook is a career game-like performance for most NBA players. He led the Thunder with 27 points, eight rebounds and seven assists. 

Paul George: Boston had problems limiting Paul George most of the game. For the second time in as many games this season against Boston, George tallied a double-double. He had 24 points on 9-for-19 shooting along with a game-high 13 rebounds.



Greg Monroe: On those stretches when the Celtics are thirsty for points, he has been the ultimate thirst-quencher off the bench. He led all reserves on Tuesday with 17 points on 6-for-12 shooting from the field to go with six rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot.

Shane Larkin: He continues to make the most of his increased role with Kyrie Irving out. Larkin had 13 points off the bench on 5-for-9 shooting with four rebounds.



Carmelo Anthony: He had 13 points on 5-for-13 shooting, but Melo’s impact was minimal at best. What he will be remembered for from this game was the two free throw misses with 8.4 seconds and the Thunder up two points, that set up the Celtics’ Marcus Morris for his game-winning 3-pointer.

Al Horford: This was yet another stinker in terms of shooting the ball, for Al Horford. Not only did he miss shots that he knows he should have knocked down, but many came at a time when the Celtics needed a big shot to get some semblance of control. Usually it’s Horford whose play lifts Boston to victory. But on this night, it was his teammates who bailed him out because if Boston lost this game you can bet there would have been plenty of eyes that would gloss past his seven assists and six rebounds, and instead lock on to his five points (on 2-for-9 shooting) and four turnovers.