Semi Ojeleye

Jayson Tatum overrated? NBA player poll yields notable Celtics results

Jayson Tatum overrated? NBA player poll yields notable Celtics results

Want to know how NBA players really feel? Look no further than the anonymous player poll.

The Athletic published its 2019 NBA player poll Monday morning, the result of its 30 NBA beat writers asking a total of 127 players a number of questions about the best and worst the league has to offer.

If you're a Boston Celtics fan, some of the results weren't surprising: Kyrie Irving was named the league's best ballhandler (with a whopping 77.1 percent of all votes), while Brad Stevens (10 percent of votes) ranked second behind only San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich for the NBA coach you'd most want to play for.

Others, however, were a bit more perplexing.

Exhibit A: Receiving 2.1 percent of votes each (tied for the fourth-most) in the "most overrated" category were Irving, Jayson Tatum and ... Semi Ojeleye.

You can debate whether Irving and Tatum are actually overrated, but we were unaware Ojeyele was even "rated" enough to make this list.

We're also a bit surprised Marcus Smart received just a single vote (along with teammate Terry Rozier) for "Who don’t you want to fight? (Or just ‘Who’s the toughest?’)" considering the scraps he's gotten himself into this season. Smart did rank seventh (2.4 percent of votes) for the NBA's biggest trash-talker, though.

A couple other big-picture results C's fans may find interesting: When asked which team, outside their own, would win the NBA title this season, only 1.8 percent picked Boston, tied with Philadelphia and behind Golden State, Milwaukee, Toronto and Houston.

Oh, and about those Kevin Durant free agency rumors? Exactly one percent of NBA players believe KD will be in Boston next season. So, we're telling you there's a chance.

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Semi Ojeleye to Celtics teammates: 'Wake the [expletive] up'

Semi Ojeleye to Celtics teammates: 'Wake the [expletive] up'

Semi Ojeleye couldn't help but speak up when he noticed the somber demeanor of his Celtics teammates during Sunday night's loss to the Rockets.

55 seconds into the third quarter with Boston down 71-43, head coach Brad Stevens called a timeout. As the team huddled up, Ojeleye saw a group that appeared to be checked out. The 24-year-old is far from outspoken, but enough was enough.

“Wake the f**k up,” Ojeleye shouted at his teammates, according to Jay King of The Athletic.

After the game, Ojeleye explained the reasoning for his outburst.

“I don’t normally do that, but I felt like we were kind of splitting apart,” Ojeleye said. “And I think we have to try to change it. I mean, the season’s wasting away. In the NBA teams are only together for so long. So it’s time to change it.”

The C's are 3-7 in their last 10 games, and Stevens said a season-long lack of chemistry was to blame for the team's woes. Ojeleye attributes the struggles to a lack of effort.

“Making or missing shots isn’t going to determine our wins or losses,” he said. “It’s really about effort right now. And I was just trying to tell guys to wake up. The look on everybody’s faces was like we already lost the game, and it was the start of the third quarter.

“It’s been tough [for the Celtics lately] because the reason you play basketball is to be a part of a group, a second family, a group of brothers. I think right now we’re struggling to find that in each other. And I think when we do – because we’re definitely capable of it, we’ve shown it at times – I think everything will come together.”

Things aren't about to get any easier for the scuffling C's as they head out west for a four-game road trip, starting with a Tuesday matchup vs the Warriors. 

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Showdown with Bucks means it's Semi Ojeleye time for Celtics

Showdown with Bucks means it's Semi Ojeleye time for Celtics

MILWAUKEE -- Semi Ojeleye is a smart dude.

He knows that whenever the Boston Celtics play the Milwaukee Bucks, he’s going to get a decent run that night with most of his time spent defending Giannis Antetokounmpo.

But as much as he’ll be the primary point defender on Antetokounmpo, he is quick to deflect any praise defensively directed towards him, to the team.

“I don’t think it’s me. I think it’s our team,” Ojeleye told NBC Sports Boston. “You could say that or everybody on our team when they guard him.”

Nice try Semi, but we ain’t buying it.

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And neither are his teammates like Marcus Smart who will spend some time defending Antetokounmpo tonight as well.

“Semi man, he’s strong as a damn ox,” Smart told NBC Sports Boston. “You’re not moving him easily. And Giannis, he does a really good job of using his length to beat people. But Semi, with his strength and ability to stay in front of guys bigger than him, his athleticism… hopefully that can contain him and with everybody else helping around him, we’ll see.”

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens echoed similar sentiments about Ojeleye.

“There’s only so many guys that have the strength to have a chance in slowing down Giannis,” Stevens said. “And that’s all you’re trying to do, make it as difficult as possible and make him earn everything. He still gets to where he wants to go, you still have to show with multiple defenders. But Semi’s body allows for minutes at that matchup.”

A. SHERROD BLAKELY

And while there are a number of factors that contributed to these two teams splitting the first two games they played this season, there’s no question Ojeleye’s defense on Antetokounmpo was a factor.

In Boston’s 117-113 win over the Bucks on Nov. 1, Ojeleye defended Antetokounmpo for a team-high 24 possessions, limiting him to nine points on 3-for-6 shooting. For the game, Antetokounmpo had 33 points on 13-for-22 shooting to go with 11 rebounds.

Milwaukee evened the season series up with a 120-107 win on Dec. 21.

Ojeleye defended him for just 15 possessions (the team leader defending Antetokounmpo was Jaylen Brown, who guarded him for 16 possessions) and gave up 10 points on a perfect 4-for-4 shooting by Antetokounmpo.  For the game, he finished with 30 points on 8-for-13 shooting.

“I just try to make it tough on him,” Ojeleye said. “He’s a great player. I just try to lock in and make it tough as possible. With a guy like that, try to take away dunks and layups. From there, just hope he misses.”

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