How much will Boston’s rookies play this season?
The Boston Celtics have an extremely crowded depth chart, and that's before you include any of their rookies. Will Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter or Jordan Mickey find a way into Brad Stevens' rotation? Or will their rookie years mirror the one James Young just had, spent mostly feasting on D-League competition for the Maine Red Claws?
Here, Stevens offers some insight into what the three first-year players will face this season, and how they can improve enough to earn some playing time, per ESPN's Chris Forsberg:
Hunter may be the teams best three-point shooter, and there's a small chance he's able to carve out some real time as Jae Crowder's backup at small forward. But he'll need to prove himself on defense first.
Rozier needs the ball to impact games, but Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas all sit in his way. And Mickey could be a tremendous two-way force, but the frontcourt is absolutely loaded. It'll be tough for any of them to make a significant impact in their first season, but that's perfectly fine, so long as they get better every day.
“First of all, I think [going from college star to fighting for minutes is] a hard transition, emotionally, but I also think that’s why we try to focus on the process every minute of every day,” said Stevens. “We don’t gauge development in terms of minutes played here. We gauge development in terms of what you are doing before practice, what you’re doing after practice, how you’re progressing during practice. And then when you get your minutes, how do you play when you get those minutes? There’s a big difference in that. “I think it’s easier to look from the outside in and say it’s always better to throw [young players] to the fire and play minutes. Well, there’s a lot of ways to get better. And I think that’s what these guys gotta embrace, regardless of whether they are playing or not — that it’s all about growth. And I don’t anticipate any problems, but certainly it’s a hard emotional transition in some ways. More so for some than others, but that’s where I think you also have to take a step back, if you’re not getting opportunities, and say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m in the NBA.’ And to stay here and to make this be the best that it can be, I just have to keep improving and keep a good mind about it.”