Re: Orlando Summer League Starts Today!
posted at 7/7/2013 9:32 AM EDT
Notebook: Fab Melo excited for new shot
Eager to work with Stevens
Sunday, July 7, 2013
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Steve Bulpett, Celtics Notebook
WINTER PARK, Fla. — Of the Celtics holdovers from last season, perhaps none may be more directly affected by the coaching change than Fab Melo.
The second-year center is still very young in his basketball development, having taken up the game late in Brazil and growing into his 7-foot frame. But even though Melo was far from being able to contribute last year, Doc Rivers, who had more pressing concerns trying to keep a banged-up team together, wasn’t big on his potential either in public or private.
“I was a rookie. He didn’t usually give opportunities to rookies,” said Melo as he prepared for today’s summer league opener. “That’s all I think it was. It was hard. We didn’t have a lot of practices, so it was hard to show him anything. That was a problem.
“I definitely look at this as a fresh start. I’m ready for it. I feel a lot different. Last year I didn’t know what to expect; this year I know what’s going on. It’s different. I’m way more comfortable now.”
As for the coming season under new coach Brad Stevens, Melo said, “I think I’m very close. I’m working hard. I work on my game every day. I think now I’m going to be playing. That’s the thing that’s going to make me better, just playing basketball. That’s what I need. I just want to play and feel comfortable playing. I didn’t feel comfortable in the games I played in last year. Now I want to feel comfortable and show what I’m able to do.”
Assistant coach Jay Larranaga is running the Celtics entry in the Orlando summer league, and has worked with Melo a lot on the side the last several months.
“I think Fab has done great from the moment I started with the team,” Larranaga said. “He’s not a finished product, but he’s constantly working to improve and he is improving. We’re very hopeful that this summer league will be a big part of that improvement.
“We’ve talked about it, and he knows it’s a big week for him. He’s really been preparing the last month in Boston and working hard, so I expect him to have a great summer league.
“He’s got a ton of potential,” Larranaga added. “He had some great games this season in the D-League. He did some things that no player has ever done before, with his triple-doubles. He made a great impact defensively, so we just really have to get him to translate that to the NBA and on a consistent basis.”
Jamie Young passed up an opportunity to join Rivers’ Clippers staff to remain with the Celts and fellow Indiana native Stevens.
“I talked to (president of basketball operations) Danny (Ainge) on the phone, and I talked to Brad. They both wanted me to stay,” Young said. “I respect Brad, followed his career path. I know his body of work and admire the way he approaches the game.”
There were other reasons to stay put — his wife, Jaynene, and 4-year-old son, Jamieson.
“My wife has a good job in Belmont in the school district there, so it’s good for her to be able to stay in that job,” he said. “I had two great options, and at the end of the day it really just came down to family and what was best for my family.”
Young also hopes to be able to form a Colts fan support group with Stevens.
“It’ll be comforting,” he said with a smile.
Top draft pick Kelly Olynyk is looking very good, showing a nice outside stroke that should have him working well with an inside presence like Jared Sullinger. The two may have some defensive matchup issues, but the combination will help the Celtics move their side of the scoreboard.
“It’s been pretty good,” said Olynyk of his first few practices with the summer group. “Guys have come in and worked hard. It’s been a good couple of days so far.
“It’s different because of the 24-second shot clock and everybody’s quicker, faster, stronger. So the speed of the game is definitely a step up.” . . .
Sullinger, coming off back surgery, is still prohibited from engaging in contact, but he’s been working on his conditioning.
“I need to drop a couple of pounds, just get my body in shape and get my wind back,” he said.
He denied getting antsy, saying, “I’m taking my time. I know it’s going to be a long season, so I might as well not rush it.”
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