SALT LAKE CITY – Guerschon Yabusele saw the ball swing his way a lot in the early going of Boston’s 89-82 win over Utah on Tuesday courtesy of social media.
“I got Twitter, too,” said Celtics assistant coach Micah Shrewsberry. “I read it. People say he (Yabusele) didn’t play very well the first game. Part of that is, we didn’t call his number too much. It’s not because of him.”
The 6-foot-8, 270-plus pound forward didn't have to worry about that against Utah.
Yabusele had a strong night for the Celtics in scoring 13 points to go with a team-high eight rebounds while blocking two shots and coming up with a steal.
It was the kind of performance he will try and build on tonight when the Celtics (2-0) close out their Summer League slate of games in Salt Lake City against the San Antonio Spurs at 7 p.m.
“I’ve seen what he can do, in practice,” Shrewsberry said. “I wanted him to come out and make a little bit of a statement.”
He did just that with solid plays being made at both ends of the floor.
“I just try to play with a lot of energy, make less mistakes,” Yabusele said.
And when the opportunity presents itself, he can make big plays too.
Yabusele’s put-back dunk off a Terry Rozier miss in the fourth quarter was just one of the many effort plays made by the 20-year-old.
The Jazz weren’t the only ones caught off-guard by the big man’s jam became a play that had the entire building buzzing due to being such an athletic play for a player many struggle to envision as someone who plays above the rim.
And then to see the muscular Yabusele flex after the dunk got even more cheers from his teammates.
“After the dunk, I was happy, so excited,” he said.
Rozier added, “it was nice; it was real nice. I (saw) it from the baseline because I was on the floor but it was great. He got hang on the rim a little bit; it was good.”
And while there’s still a chance that Yabusele will play overseas this upcoming season rather than be with the Celtics, he is quickly showing the promise Boston saw in him when they selected him with the 16th overall pick in last month’s NBA draft.
Most draft experts had him being selected near the end of the first round or early into the second.
He has only been around his new teammates for a few weeks, but it’s clear that he’s fitting in and for some players, becoming one of their favorites to play with.
“Man, I love playing with him,” Rozier said of Yabusele. “Since the practice leading up to this … he listens, he’s always there to help rebound. He’s always kicking the ball out; he’s great. He’s aggressive. We need that. He’s going to throw his body around and do whatever he can to help this team win.”
He doesn’t mind mixing it up around the rim, that’s for sure.
But that level of physical play that he brings to the game, isn’t your run-of-the-mill, bull-in-a-china-shop basketball that based on his physique one might not be surprised if in fact that’s how he played.
Like most European bigs, Yabusele relies more on skill than brute strength in order to make an impact. Although he missed all three of his 3-point attempts, Yabusele has the ability to eventually develop into a player that will help Boston with spacing.
But because of Jordan Mickey (shoulder) being out, Yabusele has found himself having to play center a lot more than he would if he were with the Celtics this season.
Boston understands that he’s playing out of position a lot, but there’s a clear positive to take from that experience.
It enables him to expand his game somewhat by providing an opportunity to utilize skills such as his speed which allows him to get up and down the court a lot quicker than most players with his size.
“It was great to see him run the floor,” Rozier said. “I told him, ‘any chance you got to get down the court and nobody down there, I’m looking so try and get down there.’”
And as the game ended and players were walking off the court, Yabusele first did an on-court interview and then signed autographs of fans waiting for him near a tunnel.
“I was very comfortable today,” he told CSNNE.com with a wide-as-the-moon smile on his face.