Daniel Theis

Celtics encouraged by Theis' impressive debut

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Celtics encouraged by Theis' impressive debut

WALTHAM -- When you’ve spent as many years playing in Germany as Daniel Theis did, the sight of an NBA scout was nothing unusual. 

But it seemed there was one scout, Benas Matkevicius, who seemed to be at the gym or at his games with regularity.

It wasn’t until he began to have conversations with Austin Ainge, Boston’s director of player personnel, did he learn that Matkevicius was an international scout for the Celtics. 

So while his arrival in Boston may have seemed to come out of left field, the Celtics have had their eye on the 25-year-old Theis (pronounced Tice) for quite some time. 

“Good player, good defender,” was how Ainge described the 6-foot-9 forward to NBC Sports Boston earlier this summer. “He’s a good, high-energy type of player who can help us.”

He certainly did in Boston’s 94-82 preseason win over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.

The 25-year-old Theis is known more for his defense (he was German League’s top defender this past season), but his non-stop movement and all-out energy allowed him to come off the bench and score 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting, to go with seven rebounds and three assists with one steal and one blocked shot in less than 14 minutes.

Of course, it would be a mistake to put too much stock in Theis’ Celtics debut, but the versatility he showed at both ends of the floor was certainly encouraging for a Boston team that has several areas to address in the preseason which includes developing a bench.

Theis, who signed a two-year deal with Boston (the second year is non-guaranteed), will get an opportunity to play his way into a more significant role going forward.

Boston’s Marcus Morris is in Phoenix awaiting a verdict on the trial in which he and his brother Markieff, have been charged with assault charges in connection with an incident in 2015. A ruling is expected to come down sometime this week.

Marcus' absence has created a need for additional help in the frontcourt. And to Theis’ credit, he has made the most of his opportunity to play. 

No one anticipates him playing that well night-in and night-out.

But the fact that Theis was able to do it at a time when there’s so much uncertainty as to how the Celtics will play and which combinations they will go with, it all bodes well for his chances of helping contribute in some capacity this season.

And while the focus for the Celtics is trying to get better from one day to the next, Theis fully embraces the Celtics way of life which is to compete and win championships, as often as possible. 

A four-time German League all-star with Brose Bamberg which plays at the top-tier German League level as well as in Euroleague, Theis has been part of a team that has won championships each of the last three seasons. 

“They like championships here,” said Theis, smiling. “So do I.”

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.

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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.

 

JAYSON TATUM

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!

 

SEMI OJELEYE

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.”

 

DANIEL THIES

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.”

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