WALTHAM, Mass. – No matter how highly regarded a player is when they come into the NBA, there’s always a “Welcome to the NBA” moment.
Jayson Tatum has been praised by just about every player and coach on the Celtics’ payroll, which is a bit unusual for a rookie.
Often the flattery centers around the beyond-his-birth certificate wisdom he tends to play with.
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And then there’s Semi Ojeleye, a second-round pick who has the look of what the Celtics and most teams want to play more of which is position-less basketball.
He too had a few first-time experiences that served as a reminder that yes, this is the NBA not North Texas State or Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
We can't forget Daniel Theis, one of the big unknowns among Boston’s roster heading into this season. He is coming off a strong showing in EuroBasket 2017 for the German National team. He had a chance to play against some current and former NBA players which includes NBAers like Boris Diaw with France in addition to the Gasol Brothers (Marc and Pau) who played for Spain.
He too has picked up a few pointers in training camp that should help his transition to the NBA from overseas competition.
Here are the three rookies detailing their “Welcome to the NBA” moments from training camp.
Training camp began Tuesday and Tatum, eager to get going, recalls it being a pretty busy day.
“We had to be on the bus at 9:15 a.m., so I got up for breakfast around 8:15,” said Tatum. “Got on the bus, younger guys were on the court first. The older guys lifted. We went through defense, got some shots off and went through plays. After that, went back to the hotel and chilled, got a nap. It lasted about an hour.”
The second session was much more intense, Tatum said.
They did some four-on-four work, dummy defense work. . . situational stuff.
“You had to get stops, to win,” Tatum said.
During the drills, Tatum at one point found himself having to guard Al Horford who is a couple inches and about 20 pounds heavier.
“They didn’t give him the ball, but him just backing me down … he’s a grown man,” Tatum said.
Welcome to the NBA young fella!
One of the first things that reminded Ojeleye that he was in a very, very different world (the NBA) compared to the world he knew (college), came during an early drill.
“It’s not like college when you get every rep,” Ojeleye said. “When you get in, you have to stay sharp.”
That has been at the forefront of Ojeleye’s thoughts throughout training camp.
And when asked if he had a particular “Welcome to the NBA” moment, Ojeleye grinned before saying, “yeah, a couple.”
When they play games that aren’t drill or situation-specific, often it involves players switching out defensively to guard someone other than the man playing their respective position.
Ojeleye knew before he became teammates with Kyrie Irving, that the four-time all-star was really fast and ultra-quick with the ball in his hands.
But to see it up-close and try to defend it … welcome to the NBA!
“He does what he does,” said Ojeleye, referring to Irving. “Him, Gordon (Hayward), all the guys; you know what kind of level it is. It’s great to be out here.”
Having just played in EuroBasket 2017, Theis made his way to Boston the day after he and his German teammates lost to Spain.
Having already faced some current and former players overseas, Theis was feeling comfortable and confident that he would not have any major issues.
But as much as he could get a feel for the strengths of some of his new teammates, there was nothing he could do to combat or minimalize dealing with experienced veterans.
“He’s such a smart player,” Theis said, referring to Horford. “He just knows where to go, his patience when he has the ball, with the past. For his shot, it’s really nice.”