Young's summer job: Take his career to the next level

Young's summer job: Take his career to the next level

SALT LAKE CITY -- There’s a certain trajectory that most first-round picks take during their first couple of seasons in the NBA.

Needless to say, James Young’s journey with the Boston Celtics has been anything but run-of-the-mill.

Injuries, and an inability to take full advantage of his few opportunities to play, have Young at a crossroads of sorts when it comes to his NBA future.

That’s why this summer has tremendous value for the 20-year-old.

And that’s why his play in Boston’s 89-82 win over Utah on Tuesday night in Summer League play was so important.

He had 16 points, which was the most he’s ever scored in an NBA game -- Summer League, regular season or the playoffs. And in Tuesday’s win, Young drained a corner 3-ball that was arguably the biggest shot of the night. It put the game away with less than 20 seconds to play.

“The shot he made in the corner was huge,” said Celtics assistant Micah Shrewsberry, who's coaching the Summer League team. “Just being able to have the mental focus to knock one in that kind of put the game on ice. It’s good for him. Anytime you can have positive results like that in a pressure situation, everybody builds off of.”

Coaches aren’t the only ones who have noticed how Young seems to be embracing this season with a heightened level of focus and intent to prove his many naysayers wrong.

“He’s more serious about . . . it's grind time for him,” said Celtics guard Terry Rozier. “It’s more serious. You can tell he wants it more. He’s not relaxing. He’s taking defense serious more than anything. That’s a big help. When you see that growth, that shows his maturity.”

For Young, patience and preparation have gone hand-in-hand of late for him.

Now he’s dealing with that other ‘P’ word -- playing.

“I’ve been putting a lot of work in,” he said. “It’s starting to show off; just keep working until I’m where I need to be.”

The Celtics have no expectations for Young in terms of minutes played this season or anything like that.

“Continued progress and growth” is what coach Brad Stevens hopes are the big takeaways from Young’s play this summer.

“We showed this on film the other day,” Stevens said. “James has a feel for what we’re trying to do on defense and offense. He is clearly playing more instinctual than he was before and a lot more instinctual than our young guys, our other new guys. That was a positive.”

For Young, the road to NBA success has not been smooth.

But he’s showing more and more signs of starting to at least get a better feel for what he can and cannot do on the basketball floor.

Because when all is said and done, Young understands there’s only one way that he’ll get better.

“I just have to keep on working,” he said.

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NBCSB Breakfast podcast: Maybe next year will be the Celtics' year

1:31 - With the results of Kyrie Irving’s second opinion on he knee looming, the Celtic’s season is certainly up in the air. A. Sherrod Blakely, Chris Mannix, Kyle Draper and Gary Tanguay debate how and if Kyrie should be used if he returns.

6:02 - Back in October Michael Felger prematurely said the Bruins season was over. The B’s marketing team featured Felger in an ad for playoff tickets now that the Bruins have clinched the playoffs. Felger, Trenni and Gary react to the commercial and discuss the Bruins playoff chances.

11:47 - The Patriots are making moves! on Tursday the Pats made deals with LaAdrian Waddle, Marquis Flowers and Patrick Chung. Phil Perry, Michael Holley, Troy Brown and Tom Curran discuss how despite these moves, the Patriots should still be in search of a left tackle.

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

File Photo

Greg Monroe looking forward to his 2nd taste of playoffs

BOSTON – We live in a world filled with success stories that came about by accident. 

The invention of the microwave oven.

Post-It notes.

The creation of potato chips.

The Boston Celtics’ game-winning play against Oklahoma City earlier this week qualfies; a play in which there were multiple miscues made by the Celtics prior to Marcus Morris’ game-winning shot. 


All these Celtics injuries have made Brad Stevens a mad scientist of sorts with some unusual lineups that may be on display tonight against the guard-centric Portland Trail Blazers. 

In Boston’s 100-99 win over the Thunder on Tuesday, we saw Stevens utilize a lineup with Al Horford and Greg Monroe, in four different stints.

Monroe, who had 17 points off the bench - the most he has scored as a Celtic -  enjoyed playing with Horford.

“Al’s so smart. He’s seen it all in this league,” Monroe told NBC Sports Boston. “He’s an all-star. Very cerebral player, unselfish. So it’s easy playing with him. He can space, drive, make plays. I feel like I can make plays, driving. It’s fun playing with him. I look forward to getting out there with him more.”

Horford had similar praise for playing with Monroe.

“Coach (Brad Stevens) made a great move bringing Greg back in, in the fourth, playing us together,” Horford said. “He made some great plays, passing the ball and just … timely plays. It’s one of those things, the more we play with each other the more comfortable we’ll get. I thought it was very positive.”

Monroe’s role has become significantly more important with the season-ending injury (torn meniscus, left knee) to Daniel Theis. And his ability to play well with various lineups will only improve Boston’s chances of weathering this latest storm of injuries which comes on the eve of the playoffs. 

And while there’s a certain amount of pleasure all players take in being on a playoff-bound team, Monroe understands better than most NBA veterans just how special it is to be headed towards the postseason.

In his eighth season, this will only be Monroe’s second time participating in the playoffs. 

The first time? 

That was last year, with the Milwaukee Bucks. 

“This is what everybody plays for, I hope,” Monroe said. “This is what I play for, to get into the postseason, make a run. It’s the best situation. I’ve been through a lot in my career, this year. I’m grateful. I don’t take anything for granted. I’m going to do whatever I can to help the team.”

And he has done that lately.

Monroe comes into tonight’s game having scored in double figures each of the last four games, a season high for the 6-foot-11 center. 

Having spent most of his NBA career watching instead of participating in the playoffs, Monroe is out to prove that he can in fact be a significant contributor to a team that’s postseason-bound.

“For sure. You have to have a little chip, a little fire, at least in my eyes,” Monroe said. “I’ve never doubted myself. It’s about being between those lines and being the best player I can be. That’s what I’m focused on.”