We lost to the Pistons, big deal – what I’m stoked about is the continued impressive play of Kris Joseph. He scored 17 points and pulled down 11 boards, but that wasn’t the story here, not at all. What really caught the eye was the way he went about his business today, playing with purpose, operating with a pedal-to-the-metal sense of urgency instead of looking to defer. Joseph has a real shot at making this Celtics team, and I dig the way he’s approaching this opportunity. He’s listening to his coaches, taking the criticism extremely well, and the going out and applying the instruction on the court.
And if you’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to Kris Joseph, you’ll come away impressed by his intelligence and his sense of humor. He understands that he needs to play extremely well to make this team, but he also doesn’t put undo pressure on himself by making it an all-or-nothing proposition. In other words, he’s approaching this opportunity the right way. And with the week on Orlando winding down, Joseph has positioned himself to shift his career from orange to green.
I know, there’s still Vegas to get through, and Danny Ainge still has to sort through what the rest of the roster is going to look like, but Joseph in a Celtics uniform on opening night definitely moves the meter for me. He can play in this league, and just because he was a second round pick and the 51st overall doesn’t discount what he’s all about. He’s plenty strong, he has the frame to play the 2 and the 3, and he the requisite quickness and athleticism to separate on the perimeter and to also get to the rack.
If Joseph is to make the team, he knows that it’s all going to be about defense. The Celtics will have plenty of shooters – Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry to name a few – so it comes down to what it always comes down to for players like Joseph; finding his niche. It’s all about knowing and playing roles when it comes to making NBA rosters, and Joseph will need to commit to playing gritty D when he’s on the court. Offensively, any buckets he gives you is a bonus at this point. Don’t get me wrong – the man can score. He has a nice, relaxed jumper, and he has good touch and range. But scoring the basketball isn’t what Danny and Doc are looking for in Joseph. They need him getting after it on the defensive end.
I’m going out on a limb and predicting that Joseph makes the team. And I don’t know why, but I can see Pierce taking this Syracuse Orangeman under his wing and grooming him in his image. As if I needed another reason to get excited about training camp!