Celtics

Celtics' fun-lovin' Guerschon Yabusele is serious about making an impact

Celtics' fun-lovin' Guerschon Yabusele is serious about making an impact

LAS VEGAS -- The Kangol hat and matching suede sweatsuit; joking around with his teammates which often leads into a locker room of laughter. The music bumping out of his headphones with an occasional dance move thrown in that instantly brings a smile to the faces of his teammates. 

The fun-loving ways of Boston’s Guerschon Yabusele tend to mask the basketball skills that made him a first-round pick of the Celtics in 2016. 

Yabusele will get an opportunity to dramatically change the narrative as to who he is by simply doing what he’s supposed to do — play great basketball.

His efforts along those lines begins this weekend when the Celtics open up summer league play against Philadelphia on Saturday. (Note: all Celtics summer league games can be seen on NBC Sports Boston. Click here for the full schedule.)

The most experienced player on Boston’s summer league team, Yabusele is well aware that he will be counted on to provide more leadership to this group than he was tasked with as one of the younger Celtics the past couple of seasons. 

In many ways, the 23-year-old’s summer will be a trial run of sorts as to what will be expected of him this season. 

Al Horford signing with Philadelphia and Aron Baynes being traded to Phoenix left a huge hole in the frontcourt for Boston. 

While they have added some talent, it will still take the new additions a little bit of time to figure out their roles and how that fits in with the grand scheme of the Celtics system. 

Having been on the team a couple years already, Yabusele does indeed have a head start of sorts on them along those lines. 

But even with a new opportunity to have a more increased role, Yabusele maintains he’s not approaching this season any different than previous ones. 

“The two years I’ve been here, I didn’t know if I was playing or not,” Yabusele told NBC Sports Boston. “I had to stay ready every game. It’s gonna be the same. Same routine, do everything I know how to do on the court.”

Indeed, minutes for Yabusele were few and far between last season as he appeared in just 41 games and averaged 2.3 points, 1.3 rebounds and shot 45.5 percent from the field and 32.1 percent from 3-point range in 6.1 minutes per game.

Celtics assistant coach Scott Morrison will be coaching the summer league team this season. 

And while it remains to be seen what exactly Yabusele will do with the group, his experience in the NBA should bode well for him this summer. 

“There’s some new stuff that we’re doing that’s new for everybody,” Morrison said. “But when you have that NBA experience, usually you can pick things up quicker which he is doing. Hopefully he’ll get out there and flex his muscles a bit, pun intended … punish some switches. Teams want to switch on him at the 4 (power forward), put somebody under the rim and score, draw some help; he’s always been a good cutter, good passer, so try to put him in position where he can showcase off his strengths for the team but also work on some of the things he didn’t get a chance to work on all season as more of a role player. 

Morrison added, “When he’s on the court for us this summer league, he’ll be one of our main guys.”

And we have seen how impactful summer league can be for young players who are thrust into more prominent roles than the one they had during the NBA season. 

We saw how a strong summer league a couple years ago for Terry Rozier, did wonders for his confidence and set the tone for his emergence as a player in the NBA.

Rozier, who spent most of his Celtics career as a backup, agreed to a three-year, $58 million contract from the Charlotte Hornets. 

There’s too much time between now and when the season starts to project how much this summer will impact Yabusele’s future. 

But the one thing we do know is this: Even with more pressure to perform on his shoulders heading into this season, Yabusele maintains he’ll still be the fun-loving, Kangol-hat wearing, jovial teammate. 

“You still gonna see that,” Yabusele said, smiling. “I’m the same guy, same person. I’m still gonna come in with a smile.”

Those who are close to him such as the Celtics coaches and teammates, know that the work he puts in isn’t all fun and games. 

But the upbeat, happy-go-lucky demeanor he carries all the time, makes the work needed to get better, far more enjoyable. 

“I have fun at what I’m doing,” he said. “It makes it a lot easier. If you go to work everyday and you’re not happy, it’s going to be harder. But if you keep going in, have fun, smiling, it makes it easier to do your job.”

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Enes Kanter a primary source of Lakers' frustration in Celtics' rout

Enes Kanter a primary source of Lakers' frustration in Celtics' rout

BOSTON -- We're not sure how many people still call Enes Kanter "Enes the Menace."

But he certainly lived up to that nickname Monday night.

The Celtics big man tallied a double-double (18 points, 11 rebounds) off the bench with a game-high six offensive boards, out-working the Los Angeles Lakers on the glass to help Boston cruise to a 139-107 win.

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The C's were able to rout the best team in the Western Conference by capitalizing on second chances, racking up 24 second-chance points to the Lakers' 14.

Kanter set the tone in that category, snagging all six of his offensive rebounds in the first half and converting them into 12 second-chance points.

Simply put, Kanter wanted it more than the Lakers' frontcourt of Anthony Davis and JaVale McGee, which led to plenty of frustration on L.A.'s side after the game.

"That was one of the most disappointing things for me, because I feel like that's a controllable thing: boxing out and hitting people," Lakers coach Frank Vogel said when asked about Boston's second-chance points. 

"We didn't really do it all in the first half, so I'm very disappointed in that really from the total performance."

Davis, in his first game back after missing five contests with an injured backside, agreed with his head coach.

"Offensive rebounds killed us," Davis said. "They were more physical. They basically did whatever they wanted the whole night. ... We didn't do a good job of keeping Kanter off the glass."

Lakers star LeBron James put it more succinctly.

"It was a good old-fashioned butt-whooping. That's all," James said. "They beat us in all facets of the game: from the outside, the interior, points from offensive rebounds. (Those) were the main ingredients of this L."

Kanter's work in the paint also seems to be a recipe for Boston's success: The Celtics now are 7-0 this season when the 27-year-old big man records a double-double.

"He's a monster down there," Celtics forward Jayson Tatum said of Kanter. "He gets every offensive rebound and he finishes around the rim. He definitely gives us a spark off the bench that we need."

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Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Grizzlies-Celtics, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.

How LeBron James felt about Jaylen Brown posterizing him in Celtics-Lakers game

How LeBron James felt about Jaylen Brown posterizing him in Celtics-Lakers game

BOSTON -- Jaylen Brown made a statement at LeBron James' expense Monday night -- even if James doesn't quite see it that way.

Brown climbed the ladder on the Lakers star in the third quarter of the Boston Celtics' blowout win over Los Angeles with a monster dunk that reminded many of Jayson Tatum's similar posterization of James during the 2018 Eastern Conference Finals.

Getting dunked on by two fresh-faced Celtics players can't be fun -- especially considering Brown earned a technical for showboating after his slam.

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But the 35-year-old has been around the block enough to not get worked up about it.

"You don't take it personal. It's part of basketball," James said after the game. "Guys go for blocks, you get blocks. You get dunks. You get crossed over at times, you get stops. You take charges. That's all part of basketball."

The 15-time All-Star also pointed out he's still batting well over .500 on plays at the rim.

"I think if you were to tally up my successful block attempts compared to my successful dunk ons, I think I'm kind of more like (up here)," James said while raising his hand to the ceiling.

"It's not the first time I've been dunked on, might not be the last time I get dunked on. But Jaylen's been playing exceptionally well this year, and that was a good play."

Brown is well aware of James' body of work, but the 23-year-old still relished in posterizing King James the same way an NFL defensive lineman may cherish sacking Tom Brady.

"I ain't going to lie, it was pretty nice," Brown said, before admitting that dunking on LeBron was, in fact, on his bucket list.

"Just to be out there playing against one of the best players to ever play the game is an honor, so I always like that matchup and it always gives me a little extra boost."

Brown's "extra boost" surprised even Tatum, who was skeptical his Celtics teammate would finish what he started on James.

"I didn't think he was going to dunk it, especially up vertical," Tatum said. "Jaylen's a hell of an athlete and a hell of a player."

Don't miss NBC Sports Boston's coverage of Grizzlies-Celtics, which begins Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. with Celtics Pregame Live, followed by tip-off at 7:30 p.m. You can also stream the game on the MyTeams App.