Tatum, Ojeleye and Theis describe 'Welcome to NBA' moment

Tatum, Ojeleye and Theis describe 'Welcome to NBA' moment

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.


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.”


Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

File Photo

Gordon Hayward rips back a morning workout while repping his Butler Bulldogs

There hasn't been all positive news surrounding Gordon Hayward as of late.

The Celtics have been shooting down rumors of Hayward returning this season. Recent news has detailed a minor setback in his recovery.

But it's always good to see the C's superstar up early crushing a workout in the weightroom.

We might not see him back in 2018, but his dedication during recovery is something to admire.


Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

AP Photo

Celtics look to continue rolling on the road

It seems all season we’ve talked about the Boston Celtics overcoming adversity, whether it be a bad injury to a key player or a blown assignment leading to a loss.

Nowhere is this more apparent than their play on the road this season which ranks among the best in the NBA.

The Celtics will look to continue on their road warrior-like ways tonight at New Orleans, a team that’s fighting for playoff position in the tighter-than-usual Western Conference.

In recent years, the terrain has been rough for teams from the East venturing into Western Conference territory.

For this year’s Celtics?

Not so much.

Boston comes into tonight’s game with a 17-7 record against Western Conference teams, tops among all teams in the East.

And while Boston has eight road games left this season, they are on pace to finish with one of the best road records in franchise history.

Currently 24-9 away from the TD Garden (tops in the East, third overall in the NBA), that’s a winning percentage of .727 which is the fourth-highest in franchise history.

Here are five under-the-radar story lines to keep an eye on when the Boston Celtics take on the New Orleans Pelicans tonight.


It’s a given that Al Horford will spend time defending Anthony Davis tonight. And while Davis will likely have a strong night scoring the ball, you can count on Horford making it extremely tough on him. When the two teams met on Jan. 16, Davis was 8-for-19 shooting for 16 points in 52 possessions when defended by Horford. For the game, Davis had 45 points on 16-for-34 shooting.


We’ve seen “Playoff" Rondo and “National TV" Rondo deliver some impressive performances in the past. What will we see from “Well-Rested” Rondo? The Pelicans gave the ex-Celtic the night off on Saturday as to not play him in back-to-back games. Of the two games, it made sense to sit him against the Rockets and have him ready to roll against a Boston Celtics team that will not have its full complement of players available.


Pelicans head coach Alvin Gentry had some choice words about the officiating in New Orleans’ 107-101 loss to Houston on Saturday that he clearly felt cost his team a better chance at winning. The only cost in play now is how big will the check be that he’ll pay the league for his comments about the officiating. His issue was that Anthony Davis doesn’t get enough calls based on the physical abuse he takes per game. Davis ranks fourth in the NBA in free throw attempts (7.8) per game, but only had four attempts against the Rockets. It’ll be worth watching whether the Pelicans, 16th in the league in free throw attempts (21.4) per game, will get to the line significantly more or less than their season average.


One of the keys to Boston’s improved play since returning to the floor since the all-star break, has been their ability to begin games with strong play. Boston has outscored their opponent in the first quarter each of the last eight games, and 10 of 11. In addition, Boston has been ahead at the half in each of their 10 games since the all-star break, which comes on the heels of trailing at the half in the seven games prior to the break.


Jayson Tatum has been one of the most impactful rookies in the NBA this season which will likely land him a spot on the NBA’s all-rookie first or second team. One of the strengths of Tatum has been his durability, evident by him being one of just two first-year players to appear in each of his team’s games played this season. He is joined by Memphis’ Dillon Brooks.