Celtics

A scouting report on Celtics' Syracuse draftees

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A scouting report on Celtics' Syracuse draftees

By Drew Silverman
CSNNE.com contributor

As a Syracuse graduate and a college basketball junkie, I watched Fab Melo play for the Orange probably close to 50 times and Kris Joseph probably close to 100 times. I am very comfortable breaking down both players' strengths and weaknesses and, if nothing else, I'll offer more of a real picture than Jay Bilas, who loved all 60 picks, and Jeff Van Gundy, who knew nothing about all 60 picks.

So, here is a quick breakdown of what to expect from the Celtics' newest Syracuse products:

Fab Melo

The background: Melo came to Syracuse in 2010 with an enormous amount of hype as a freshman. He was the Big East's preseason rookie of the year, and it seemed as if he would step in right away and contribute. To say the least, that didn't happen. Melo started as a freshman, but he constantly was removed from games by Jim Boeheim after several minutes for a variety of bone-headed mistakes which included (but were not limited to) bad fouls, missed defensive assignments, and poor turnovers. Most of his freshman season went along this way, as he played just 9.9 minutes per game and averaged 2.3 points and 1.9 rebounds.

To Melo's credit, though, he lost a ton of weight last off-season and returned for his sophomore year in much better shape - and with much better results. Melo averaged 7.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks as a sophomore en route to earning the Big East's defensive player of the year honor. There were times in which he was the best player on the court for Syracuse - a notion that would have been laughable just a few months earlier. He played 25.4 minutes per game as a sophomore, cut down on his fouls and his mistakes, and was a reliable player on both ends of the court.

The scouting report: Melo is still a work in progress offensively. That said, he's not a stiff (at least, not anymore). He has developed a couple of low-post moves, and he has a surprisingly nice touch for a 7-footer. That said, he really needs to be wide open if he's going to knock down a 10-to-15 foot jumper. He also became a much better free-throw shooter in the second half of his sophomore season - an improvement for which Melo deserves a lot of credit.

From a passing standpoint, Melo has some skills. He's not Rajon Rondo or Kevin Garnett, but he has the potential to be a well above-average passer for an NBA center. Speaking of Rondo, the Celtics' point guard better ease up on those passes to Melo, because he definitely does not have the best hands. Melo carves out nice space for himself on the boards, but he could use some improvement in this area. Defensively, he has pretty good timing on blocking shots, but he can still get himself into foul trouble by going for pump fakes way too often. And it's important to note that Melo is terrific at taking charges, a trait that you rarely see in a 7-footer.

Even though he was suspended for academic reasons a couple of times last season, Melo is considered to be a good kid, and I'd expect him to stay out of trouble when he reaches the next level.

The future: It's hard for me to envision Fab Melo ever being the starting center on an NBA championship team. To be honest, it's hard for me to even envision him being a long-term starter in the league. But as a backup center and an occasional spot-starter, Melo should have a decent career in the NBA.

Kris Joseph

The background: Like Melo, Joseph was a relative non-factor as a freshman at Syracuse. And like Melo, Joseph made significant improvements in his sophomore season. He was honored as the league's sixth man of the year and it looked like the sky was the limit for Joseph. However, the improvement never really came.

Sure, his scoring average increased and he became a better 3-point shooter. But Joseph arguably took a step back as a junior and then never really dominated as a senior. In addition, Joseph was at his worst in the 2012 NCAA Tournament, averaging just 10.0 points on 33 percent shooting for the tourney. He left Syracuse as one of it's 25 best players of all time, but a guy who left the fans (and probably the coaches) wanting a bit more.

The scouting report: Joseph is a good athlete with a knack for getting to the rim. He is skilled when it comes to contorting his body in mid-air to bend around shot blockers, and he has a decent left hand, though he's much more comfortable going right. In terms of slashing to the basket, Joseph's biggest weakness is his inability to pull up from eight or 10 feet off the dribble. He's basically in the constant mindset of "I'm getting to the rim, and that's it," which can be a good quality, but it can also be a problem when he faces teams with a shot blocker.

Joseph was an awful 3-point shooter during his first two years at Syracuse, however he improved to have a nice touch by his junior and senior seasons. He is a good free-throw shooter, though he developed a knack for missing clutch foul shots in big games. Defensively, it's a little bit hard to judge Joseph, because he played on the wing in Jim Boeheim's 2-3 zone. But at times, it looked like Syracuse's opponents were targeting his side of the zone. He definitely needs to improve on defense if he's going to guard 2s and 3s in the NBA.

The future: I just don't see Kris Joseph having an NBA career. His ceiling is probably a rotation player as a team's eighth or ninth man. And it wouldn't surprise me at all if his professional career starts and ends overseas.

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

Plenty of on-the-job training for Celtics' rookies

BOSTON – With all the changes the Celtics went through over the summer, seeing more rookies on the floor this season was a given.
 
But six?
 
Yes, only three games into the season and the Celtics have played more rookies than any team under fifth-year coach Brad Stevens.

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And in the 102-92 victory at Philadelphia on Friday night, the Celtics (1-2) played almost as many first-year players (five) as veterans (six).
 
The youth movement here in Boston has been sped up a bit by the season-ending injury to Gordon Hayward, compounded by a left ankle sprain to Marcus Smart that Smart said won’t keep him out any more than Friday night in Philly.

Even if Smart is back in the Celtics lineup Tuesday night against New York, that doesn’t change the fact that Boston will continue to need rookies to step up and contribute going forward as they did on Friday.
 
And while there’s an old adage about experience being the greatest teacher, Boston’s youngsters are going to have to fast-forward past some of those on-the-floor growing pains for the Celtics to stay among the top teams in the East.
 
“Everybody talks about young players having to learn by going through experience,” said Stevens. “Why don’t we just watch film and learn? Learn from things we can control and in the interim, let’s beat the age thing. Let’s not talk about the age thing. Let’s talk about how we can be better at what we can control and how we can learn and grow every day and expedite the learning curve.
 
Stevens added, “because they are going to get opportunities all the way down the line, let’s not focus on trying to learn from experience; let’s focus on learning from every day and see if we can get a little bit better every day.”
 
The one rookie who has had no problem adjusting to the NBA game early on has been Jayson Tatum.
 
Selected with the third overall pick last June, Tatum has been among the NBA's most productive rookies in this first week of the season.
 
Tatum’s 35.3 minutes played per game is tops among all rookies. His 12.3 points and 9.0 rebounds rank seventh and fourth among his first-year brethren.
 
Stevens loves what he has seen thus far from Tatum, but believes he’s capable of making an even greater impact sooner rather than later.
 
“I like him to shoot it on the catch more,” Stevens said. “Because he has tremendous touch. When he shoots it in rhythm with confidence, the ball finds the net. He’s one of those guys; he’s a natural scorer. But his ability to read the game … he’s very intelligent. It’s been more evident on the defensive end. He’s gonna pick his spots offensively now. But we want him to be aggressive and first and foremost, be a threat to shoot it every time he catches it.
 
Stevens added, “I guess it should feel pretty good when you’re 19 years old and your coach is begging you to shoot it.”
 
How quickly Tatum and the rest of Boston’s youngsters grow into the roles they will be asked to play this season can do nothing but help the Celtics adapt to what has already been a season with major changes needing to be made.
 
“You saw [against Philadelphia], we had Shane [Larkin], we had Guerschon [Yabusele], we had guys coming in that played the game at a high level and we need them to contribute,” said Boston’s Kyrie Irving. “For me to see that and witness that, it makes me nothing but proud and happy to have teammates that are ready to play. It’s not always going to look perfect because we’re still gaining knowledge about one another. But as long as we’re out there competing, having each other’s backs, that’s all that matters.”
 

Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

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Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for his inappropriate language with a fan

BOSTON – As expected, the NBA has fined Celtics guard Kyrie Irving $25,000 for using “inappropriate language” toward a fan at the Friday night game in Philadelphia.
 
The incident occurred at halftime as Irving and his teammates were heading to the locker room, trailing by four. Boston went on to win 102-92 for their first victory of the season.
 
A fan yelled, “Hey, where’s LeBron?” to which Irving replied with a lewd suggestion to the yeller.
 
The Celtics practiced on Saturday with Irving addressing the incident.

When asked if he had any regrets about the incident, Irving replied, “Hell no. Man enough to record it on video, that’s on him. I’m glad he got his ad name out there, and his five seconds of fame and it’s gone viral. That’s social media platform we live on.
 
Irving added, “I take full responsibility for what I said. You move on.”
 
When asked about the incident on Saturday, Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he had not seen the video but was aware of it.
 
“People make mistakes; hopefully learn from them and move on,” Stevens said. “There’s a right and wrong. And if you’re in the wrong you have to own up to it and that’s that.”

It was the second such fine levied by the league in as many days. 

New Orleans center DeMarcus Cousins was fined $25,000 for "inappropriate language" toward a fan when the Pelicans lost 103-91 at Memphis on Wednesday.