BOSTON -- Even with all the uncertainty surrounding the Celtics and the center position, Vincent Poirier knew this transition was not going to be a smooth one.
He’s playing in the NBA for the first time, with a new and unfamiliar group of teammates, in a new system and by all accounts, a very different role than the one he had overseas.
But the approach now Poirier says, isn’t all that different than it has been elsewhere when it comes to basketball.
“I’ve been in this situation before where I have to fight to find my spot,” Poirier told NBC Sports Boston. “So I’m ready. I’m just working hard, learning fast and I’m OK with that. I know that’s the process. I’m focusing on my role.”
It’s a successful season for Poirier if…
...he can work his way into a semi-consistent role this season. In preseason action, the 7-foot center has provided glimpses of why he has been on the Celtics radar for the past three seasons. He led the Euroleague last season in rebounding (8.3 per game) with a good chunk of his damage coming on the offensive glass. While he played limited minutes in the preseason, his per-36 minutes per game numbers are a solid 9.9 points and 8.9 rebounds, the kind of production that Boston will need from the center position this season.
It’s a disappointing season for Poirier if…
...he spends most of the season buried at the end of the Celtics’ bench. Distinguishing himself from the rest of those contending for minutes at the center position has been a challenge of sorts thus far in training camp. Daniel Theis has been a solid defender against post players as well as smaller players on defensive switches. Enes Kanter’s low-post game offensively and rebounding prowess will get him on the floor for sure. And Robert Williams III’s freakish athleticism and improved understanding of how to play at this level will mean minutes for the second-year big man as well.
Poirier is saying all the right things now as far as being patient while waiting for his chance to play meaningful minutes. It’s easy to feel that way in October when the season hasn’t started. But what if when the games start coming one after another, and the calendar flips to 2020 and Poirier finds himself buried on the bench? Barring an injury or two (which is more likely than not at some point), Poirier isn’t going to play much this season. And even if healthy, he still might not get much court time if head coach Brad Stevens leans on his more skilled (and undersized) players, which is very possible. Poirier has shown some of the skills that Boston likes in a big man for sure. But the way this team is built coupled with the players ahead of him on the depth chart, it's hard to envision the 26-year-old will work his way into being anything more than a spot-duty player whose minutes and opportunities to play will fluctuate all season.
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