Technically Pistons rookie Austin Daye got his start in Boston. His father Darren Daye, a Celtic during the tail end of his career, playing his last two seasons in green before going overseas in 1988. The 1987-88 Celtics, coached by K.C. Jones, won 57 games and went to the Eastern Conference finals, falling coincidentally to the Pistons. Shortly thereafter, Darren Daye had a son.
“I was born in southern California,” Austin said this morning in shootaround. “But I was conceived in Boston.”
The 21-year-old small forward grew up in Irvine, Calif. not far from Los Angeles, though he couldn’t allow himself to be a Lakers fan. “Laker games are so much harder to get into,” he said. “I would go to Clipper games.”
It took him 18 years to get back to Boston, coming to the TD Garden two years ago as Gonzaga’s freshman for a matchup against Connecticut. But as he was coming up, he’d dig through his father’s old game tapes, especially the ones of that Celtics team.
“I used to watch all of his videos a lot,” Daye said. “The whole team throughout the ’88 season. It’s just such a great team and it has such rich history. It’s something good to watch, especially for your father to be a part of it.”
After two years at Gonzaga, Daye was taken by the Pistons with the 15th pick in last year’s draft. With injuries killing the Pistons for most of the season, Daye’s seen his role vary from playing spot minutes to making spot starts like Monday against the Knicks when he scored 16 points and grabbed six rebounds in 32 minutes.
“It’s been an adjustment,” Daye said. “I knew coming in I wasn’t going to play a whole lot. I was hoping I would get some here-or-there minutes. Now, I started the last game. I probably going to play a lot in the next couple weeks [with several players returning to the lineup], but I have been playing a lot. I’ve just got to make the adjustment to when guys come back I can stay ready.”
He’s had to get accustomed to several aspects, from shooting the NBA 3-pointer (he’s at 33.3 percent) to putting more weight on his 6-foot-11 inch frame with the possibility of his coach John Kuester playing him at power forward. But what he’s also noticed is how far IQ goes at the pro level.
“Guys are so much smarter than they are in college,” Daye said. “I was pretty smart in college. I could get foul calls here or there or get a jump shot whenever I wanted. But here it’s a little different. Guys know what your tendencies are. Guys study you, you study them. You’ve got to make adjustments on the fly. It’s tough, especially as a rookie coming in.”