Kelly Olynyk is expected to start for the Boston Celtics' entry at the Orlando Summer League games. Jared Sullinger practiced with the team all week.
What better way for Oderah Anosike to make a first impression before the games tip off on Saturday? Anosike, or O.D., experienced his Celtics introduction by banging with Olynyk, Sullinger and others for a week in preparation for the summer league.
With the Celtics passing on selecting a big man with either NBA draft selection, Anosike has a shot, albeit long, to earn a training camp invite.
Anosike is 6’8”, 240 pounds and played center for Sienna from 2009-10 to 2012-13. Despite being undersized for the position, Anosike led the NCAA in rebounds twice. A 7’3.5” wingspan and 9’0" standing reach, according to Draft Express, helped Anosike make up for his less-than-ideal height at Sienna.
But averaging 12.5 rebounds in 2011-12 and 11.4 in 2012-13 wasn’t enough for Anosike to get drafted. So he headed overseas.
Looking at the few video clips of Anosike shows a big man with a basic inside game and good athleticism. His game is similar to Leon Powe’s physical style, which was vital to the Celtics’ run to Banner 17.
Finding a spot for Anosike on the Celtics roster seems difficult. He projects as an NBA power forward, while Boston is in dire need of a quality center. If Anosike were two inches taller, his competition would likely be Joel Anthony, Vitor Faverani and Colton Iverson. Anosike has to outplay summer league invite Daniel Coursey first, though.
Competition at power forward is much harder. Either Sullinger or Olynyk will win the starting job, making the other the backup. Brandon Bass has been very productive off the bench for Boston for the past three seasons.
At the same time, Kris Humphries is a free agent. Humphries has expressed a desire to return, but he won’t be back at the $12 million he earned last year. Humphries is drawing interest from other teams, putting his return to Boston up in the air.
If Humphries departs, it could be the opening that Anosike needs to make the Celtics training camp roster.
But first things first: Anosike must play well in the summer league to earn a camp invite. If Anosike does, he could find a role with the Celtics in today’s NBA.
With fewer true centers in the league and more teams playing small ball, Anosike needs to be capable of playing post defense and extending that D to the three-point line to cover stretch 4s.
Eyes will be focused on 2014 first-round picks Marcus Smart and James Young, if Young plays. Olynyk and Phil Pressey’s development in their second year will be closely monitored. Many are curious to see if Iverson learned how to reduce his fouls while maintaining his physicality after playing for Besiktas.
But every year, summer league players seemingly come from out of nowhere to draw the attention of fans and scouts. Pressey showed he belonged last year, while Iverson opened eyes by being a physical presence.
Dairis Bertans and Edwin Jackson crossed the Atlantic in hopes of being that guy. Mike Moser and Devin Oliver hope to leapfrog Chris Johnson and Chris Babb.
Immediately, Anosike has to outplay Coursey, a shot-blocker from Mercer. Anosike won’t get by Olynyk, but if Anosike plays well, he could follow Olynyk to Celtics training camp in September.
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