Boston Celtics' Winners and Losers from Week 1 of Training Camp
After months of anticipation, Boston Celtics training camp is finally underway. This is a time for guys fighting for playing time and roster spots to make statements, so who were the biggest winners and losers of Week 1 of Celtics camp?
Some eyebrows were raised after Boston lost to Turkish team Fenerbahce Ulker 97-91 in its first preseason game, but it then set the record straight by hammering Emporio Armani Milano 105-75.
Not that a preseason loss means anything anyway. That game was all about watching rookies like Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo and seeing guys like Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith fight for roster spots, as was the 30-point win.
There were several things to take away from both contests, some good and some bad.
So, let's check out six players who saw their stocks either rise or fall in Week 1.
Winner: Jared Sullinger
To put it plainly, Sullinger was an animal in the Celtics' first preseason game. He scored 16 points off 7-of-11 shooting and pulled down eight boards, all of that in 26 minutes of play. The rookie then followed that up with a nine-point, seven-board performance in 18 minutes against Milano.
Sullinger asserted himself as a force in both contests, throwing his weight around to not only put points on the board but to crash the glass and draw charges. Yes, the competition was not exactly fierce, but Sullinger is clearly NBA-ready and everyone should expect more of the same from him come the regular season.
Boston fans have even raised the question as to whether or not the Ohio State product deserves to start at power forward over Brandon Bass. That right there should tell you that Sullinger was a big winner in Week 1.
Expect big things from this kid.
Loser: Jamar Smith
Smith was already an underdog to Christmas coming in in terms of battling for the final roster spot, and he has done nothing to shake that notion in the Celtics' first two preseason games.
Smith has shot an unimpressive 2-of-10 from the floor in both contests combined while also turning the ball over five times. Five turnovers in 24 minutes is certainly not going to earn you a roster spot, especially when you're not dishing out any assists—that's for sure.
The one edge that Smith has over Christmas is his ability to shoot the three-ball, but he hasn't even done that thus far, misfiring on all three of his attempts.
Yes, we're only two games in, but players like Smith cannot afford any missteps.
Winner: Jeff Green
Did this guy just have heart surgery? You wouldn't know it by the way Jeff Green has played.
Green has been absolutely sensational in the Celtics' first two preseason games, scoring 11 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter against Fenerbahce Ulker and then dropping 17 more versus Milano. Green has also been very efficient, shooting a combined 12-of-20 in each of the two contests.
What's most impressive about Green is the way he is running the floor. He has shown no ill effects from his heart procedure. Let's hope things stay that way, because he is exceeding even the most optimistic individual's expectations right now while developing into a lethal bench player.
Loser: Fab Melo
Judging from the fact that both Darko Milicic and Jason Collins received considerably more playing time than Melo in the first two games, it just isn't the rookie's time yet.
It's tough to call Melo a loser, because we all basically know his place on the roster, but it's clear that Doc Rivers currently sees him as a last resort up front.
Melo played a combined 14 minutes in the first two contests, going scoreless and managing four rebounds. As expected, he gets up and down the floor well, but also as expected, he looks very raw.
Have patience with Fab. He needs some time to develop.
Winner: Darko Milicic
Let's all give a round of applause to Darko. He may not have done much offensively in his first two preseason outings (scoring four points total), but he has crashed the glass and played some fine defense.
Milicic looked particularly effective against Milano, grabbing eight rebounds and blocking four shots. He also handed out three assists, and that shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone. If you've seen Darko play at all over the course of his career, you would know that he is a very capable passer for a big man.
I'll admit that I was a bit skeptical of Milicic's signing at first, thinking it wasn't much more than third- or fourth-string depth, but he played a total of 35 minutes in the Celtics' first two contests. Of course, that has something to do with the fact that Chris Wilcox missed both of those games with a balky back, but Darko still produced regardless.
The former No. 2 pick may be working his way into Doc's rotation.
Loser: Kris Joseph
I have been on record of saying that Kris Joseph is essentially assured a roster spot, and I still believe that. However, he hasn't done anything to lock up that distinction thus far.
Joseph was fairly underwhelming in the Celtics' first two preseason games, only getting onto the stat sheet with a rebound during the first contest and then somehow posting a minus-5 plus-minus in Boston's 30-point win over Milano.
Of course, Melo's teammate at Syracuse has only been on the floor for 12 minutes over the course of those two outings, but it would have been nice to see him show something.
Regardless, my hopes remain rather high for Joseph. Hopefully he can right the ship as the preseason progresses.
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