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Theis initially caught Boston’s eye while playing for Germany at the FIBA Europe Under-20 Championships in 2011. The Celtics watched him develop into a long, athletic, and versatile defender who was also capable of drilling long-range shots.
“As a youngster, he was just kind of a skinny kid with a little bit of bounce, and that was about it,” Ainge said. “He’s just slowly gotten better. He’s improved every year and moved up levels in Europe. He contributed at a very high level.”
In recent years Theis worked tirelessly with Brose Bamberg’s shooting coach, who pored over film with him and taught small nuances, such as jumping off his entire foot when he shoots rather than just his toes.
This past season the forward made a career-high 41 percent of his 3-pointers in Euroleague play, and he was also named the Bundesliga’s defensive player of the year.
“It worked out really well,” Theis said. “I think one of my biggest strengths is my versatility.”
In Europe, Theis was capable of defending centers and point guards. His range will probably be a bit more condensed in the NBA, where players are faster, stronger, and more athletic.
But the Celtics still believe he will be able to guard multiple positions.
“With players like Isaiah Thomas, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, they need to score,” Theis said. “So you need other players to play defense and do, not the dirty stuff, but maybe the stuff that’s not on the stat sheet every time: setting screens, rolling, and just things like what Marcus Smart did a lot.”
Daniel Theis is brand new to the Celtics, but he’s already a forgotten man. His signing was so low-key, and completely overshadowed by the Hayward acquisition and the Bradley-Morris trade, that it seems no one has noticed him. He’s seldom mentioned in various analyses of the Celtics’ off-season.
The 6-foot-9 Theis sounds like a younger version of Jonas Jerebko, with a cheaper contract. After scouting him for six years, the Celtics should be certain of what they’re getting. Theis’ quote about Marcus Smart is extremely encouraging. You can never have enough guys who do the little things that impact winning.
Here’s a bit more info about the new Celtics big man.
On Page 2: Skills, plural
There was a motive behind Celtics forward Jaylen Brown playing in the summer league.
Brown, who’s entering his second year in the NBA, probably didn’t need to join the group, which generally consists of rookies and free agents. He played a significant role as the Celtics advanced to the Eastern Conference finals last season, but there were certain parts of his game that he wanted to improve.
Brown, who played mostly in the 3 or 4 position last season, played in more of a backcourt role in summer league. Whether it was handling the ball more, or defending guards, the Celtics 6-foot-7 wing said that was a focus as he entered summer league.
“It was by design,” Brown said via conference call Thursday as he gets ready to participate in the NBA Africa Game in Johannesburg, South Africa. “I think that’s exactly what we pinpointed coming in, just trying to get better at different aspects of my game and use summer league for pretty much what it’s worth. Just coming out trying to get better, so that’s a part of my game that I wanted to get better at, and it’s a part of my game I still have to get better at.
“I still have things, there are still nuances to that side of the game that I’m still working on, so being a ball handler, creating for others, running the team, being a leader, that type of stuff is going to help me in the long run, and that’s the type of stuff I was trying to excel at and work on in summer league.”
Former New England Patriot Troy Brown is one of coach Bill Belichick’s all-time favorite players. The reason: Brown was not just a pass receiver. He also returned kicks, and one season when the Pats were short-handed due to injuries, lined up in the defensive backfield and led the team in interceptions. That’s versatility.
Belichick has always valued players who can do more than one thing. From Brown, to kicker Adam Vinatieri throwing a touchdown from a field goal formation, to linebacker Mike Vrabel lining up at tight end and catching TD passes, versatility has been a hallmark of the Patriots during their reign this century.
We know that Brad Stevens observes and admires Belichick’s methods, so why not experiment with the young guys and their skills development? It can’t hurt. And now we know, after Brown dropped 29 in the summer league opener, why he was playing.
Related: MassLive – Boston Celtics wing Jaylen Brown’s versatility could be key in push for more minutes | Herald – Celtics’ Jaylen Brown sees the world beyond basketball | CSNNE – Jaylen Brown ‘couldn’t stop smiling’ after arriving in South Africa | Providence Journal – Celts’ Jaylen Brown sets sights on a better 2017-18
And, finally: International man of mystery
Here’s what we do know: He’s a 6-foot-7, 218-pound specimen, the best international prospect at least since Ricky Rubio — and maybe ever — and he could be the NBA’s No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 draft.
Doncic became the youngest player ever to suit up for Real Madrid in the top-tier Spanish League — an overseas power that has won 33 titles in Spain and nine EuroLeague championships since 1957 — when he debuted at age 16 on April 30, 2015. Since then, he has risen from seldom-used phenom to a key contributor and sometime-starter on a team that reached the EuroLeague semifinals, becoming the youngest player ever to win the league’s Rising Star honor — an award previously bestowed on a handful of future NBA players, including Rubio, Danilo Gallinari, Nikola Mirotic and Andrea Bargnani.
It’s the same story with almost all international players: it’s difficult to know for sure if the talent is real. Check the link for some highlights of this 18-year-old. With two possible lottery picks in the 2019 draft, perhaps the Celtics take a chance on Doncic and hope he’s more Porzingis than Bargnani.