The Celtics’ rookies produced a mixed bag Friday night

I went into Friday’s scrimmage expecting to see a big game from Carsen Edwards. Kemba Walker was set to sit out while he rehabs his knee injury, so there were going to be some extra minutes to spare at the point guard slot. Well, I was in luck because there was a young point guard who stepped up against the Oklahoma City Thunder. Just not the one I was expecting to.

Carsen Edwards

Before I get into what I believe to be the highlight of Friday’s scrimmage, let’s talk about the other rookies. Since I already mentioned him, the reason I was so invested in Edwards having success in these scrimmages is there’s less pressure to perform. My theory was always that he saw all these great players ahead of him, which he never had at Purdue, and got affected by the expectation that he would perform well immediately. Well, unfortunately, I may have been wrong.

Edwards finished the game 2-8 on Friday, while also going 0-3 from deep. He did have a couple assists, notably one to Enes Kanter that was his highlight of the day, but it wasn’t enough to outshine his poor shooting performance. He looked like the same Edwards we all saw throughout the regular season. Nervous, inefficient, and stiff while on the floor. I still believe that Edwards can be the player he was in the 2019 preseason, but I have yet to see it.

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Grant Williams and Javonte Green

Moving on to a couple of other rookies, I was also pretty impressed by Javonte Green and Grant Williams. Green saw the floor for 15 minutes during the scrimmage, and while he may never be the outside shooter most teams are looking for these days, he did show that he hustles more than anyone else. I feel like there wasn’t a single moment where he slowed down. His three steals prove that he’s a solid defender, but you have to watch the games to appreciate the hustle he brings to the floor. 

As for Williams, I just think that he looked more confident than ever. The first three he took he nailed, and while the second one wasn’t exactly the best shot to take, he still pulled the trigger without hesitation. Instead of ragging on him for taking a bad shot, I just thought it was great that he’s so confident in taking threes. Especially after he struggled mightily in that department to start the regular season.

Tremont Waters

Since Tacko Fall, Romeo Langford, and Vincent Poirier didn’t see the floor last night, that means there’s only one rookie left to discuss – Tremont Waters.

Like I mentioned earlier, I was fully expecting a breakout game from Edwards, but getting one from Waters was fine by me. For those of you who didn’t watch the game, looked at the box score, and think it’s not that impressive, let me break it down for you. While Waters may have only shot 3-7 from the field and 1-4 from deep, his playmaking ability is what set him apart on Friday.

For essentially the entirety of the second half, the Celtics played through Waters. He was bringing the ball up the court on nearly every possession, and making smart choices with it, too. His five assists in the box score don’t fully show how well he was passing the ball against the Thunder. I thought I was watching a poor man’s Chris Paul out there with some of the passes he was making. I’m talking one-handed, across the chest kick-outs to the corner to hit the open man. Sure he may have had a couple turnovers, but he also made up for those on the defensive end.

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Waters is listed at 5’10”, so most people would expect him to be a defensive liability. Well not only did he win SEC Defensive Player of the Year during his final year at LSU, but last night he showed he could hold his owne against real NBA competition. His stat line shows three steals, which is good, but watching his quickness and knowledge on the defensive end on Friday really showcased how special he is.

Waters was switching at the right time, pestering the ball handler non-stop, and just constantly managed to stay in front of everyone on defense. He uses his height and quickness as an advantage on defense. Also, it may not show up anywhere on paper, but seeing him fly through the air for an offensive rebound and put back was amazing. He was like the shortest superman ever.

The rest of the team was solid, a few issues here and there, but they’re obviously going to be a little rusty. The reason I’m choosing to watch the Celtics’ rookies so closely is that no one knows how good they can be yet. Sure you could say the same about Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, but at this point, most people have at least some idea of what kind of players they’ll be. However, for the rooks, most things are still a mystery waiting to be solved.

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