Colton Iverson: Much to Prove to the Boston Celtics at the Orlando Summer League

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Colton Iverson: Much to Prove to the Boston Celtics at the Orlando Summer League
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A rumor surfaced that Colton Iverson would go play in Europe if he either wasn’t drafted or doesn’t make the Boston Celtics roster.

Clearly he’s not familiar with Boston’s recent history of centers. The list includes Chris Johnson, Mikki Moore, Jermaine O’Neal, Ryan Hollins, Greg Stiemsma—and Kendrick Perkins, as the gold standard.

Iverson’s primary competition will be 2012 first-round draft pick Fab Melo and Melo’s three total years of basketball experience. They begin their duel at the Orlando Summer League beginning on Sunday, July 7. The Celtics’ first game is at 11 a.m. against Orlando.

Knowing Iverson is willing to go overseas to play shows that the Colorado State product will put in the work to improve. There’s reason to have faith that Iverson will get better over time based on his college track record.

Iverson was highly recruited coming out of Yankton High School in South Dakota and signed with the University of Minnesota. Because Minnesota coach Tubby Smith reduced Iverson’s minutes in his sophomore and junior seasons, Iverson decided to transfer for his senior season.

If a player having an issue with Smith sounds familiar, that's because Rajon Rondo butted heads (ESPN Insider, subscription required) with Smith while at Kentucky.

Celtic fans hope that’s a good omen for Iverson.

Finally with the opportunity to play, Iverson blossomed. He averaged 14.2 points and 9.8 rebounds for the Rams while also chipping in nearly one block per game.

Iverson isn’t much of an athlete by NBA standards, but he can certainly make up for it in bulk. He was the biggest player available in this year’s draft. Standing 7’0” (in shoes) and 266 pounds, he has the size to make some opponents think twice about entering the paint.

Defense might be the first part of Iverson’s game he needs to work on. Boston’s defense revolved around the play of its center during the Big Three era, with Perkins and most recently Kevin Garnett anchoring the position.

If the burly Iverson can effectively patrol the paint and rip down defensive rebounds, all while throwing his weight around and delivering messages with physical play, Iverson could help keep the snarl in Boston’s defense.

The potential is there. In limited minutes during Iverson’s freshman year at Minnesota, he averaged 1.3 blocks in 2008-09, sixth in the Big Ten Conference. Scouts credit Iverson with having a strong motor, which would help compensate for his deficiencies.

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The offensive end is where Iverson could have an immediate impact. He has an old school back to the basket game with the ability to finish with both hands. He uses his girth to bully his way inside and will go up strong when necessary.

Can Iverson continue to overpower defenders at the pro level? We will begin to find out on Sunday.

The only question is whether Iverson can reliably hit mid-range jumpers. It’s a wait and see proposition as Iverson attempted just nine jump shots during his senior year, according to DraftExpress.com.

While Iverson remains in green, he won’t keep his number 45. When combined with the first syllable of Iverson’s first name, he could be known as “Colt 45.” Thankfully the Celtics assigned Iverson 37. Whether it was intentional or not, preventing a potential nickname based on a gun is greatly appreciated with the number of gun crimes happening in Boston.

And with the ongoing murder investigation of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez, the Celtics can do without a gun reference associated with a player.

If Iverson turns out to be better than expected for a second-round pick, he won’t need a catchy nickname. In time, the fanbase might come up with something clever because they appreciate hard-nosed underdogs who give it their all.

On Sunday, Colton Iverson’s chance to make a name for himself begins.

Questions? Comments? Send to randolphc82@comcast.net.

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