The Celtics kicked off their first day of training camp Tuesday with a double session at the team’s practice facility in Waltham. Nearly the entire 20-man roster participated in at least a portion of the team’s first practice, as an injured Rajon Rondo was the only player to watch from the sidelines.
Rondo’s broken left hand will likely keep the point guard out of action for at least the first few weeks of the regular season, and that reality has forced Brad Stevens to adjust his point guard rotation for the start of camp.
The head coach shed some light on his thinking in the backcourt while speaking with reporters before the team’s second practice session Tuesday, noting that Evan Turner, Marcus Smart and Phil Pressey will be competing for Rondo’s minutes at point, for now.
Turner has never played point guard on the NBA level so he talked about adjusting to serving as the floor general with his new team.
“I’m just re-learning (point guard) for the most part,” Turner explained, “And also just learning the system and different positions here. Coach and I spoke, and I’m going to learn all three perimeter spots. Just being prepared, that’s all. I mean, it’s training camp. So I knew I was going to have to adjust and learn new things anyway. Once again, just learn on the fly and take it one step at a time. I’m not really overwhelmed or anything. It’s my fifth year in the league, so I know at the end of the day it’s all about making plays.”
Despite Turner’s inexperience at point, Stevens gave him an early vote of confidence at the position.
“Hey, I’m not as worried about [where Turner plays on the floor],” Stevens said while later comparing Turner to Jordan Crawford’s role with the Celtics last season. “People are going to put you in a box for your position. I’m not going to do that. I’m not going to worry about it. He’s a ball-handler, he can handle, he can make plays, he’s smart. And then I think that keeps our other guys in the positions where they are most comfortable.”
Stevens added later: “He’s better with the ball than not. And, Rondo notwithstanding, he’s as good of a pick-and-roll player as we have.”
While it’s far too early to tell after just one day of practice, the opportunity at point guard may come as a bit of a blessing for Turner, who also noted that he feels assertive with the basketball in his hands.
“That’s what I grew up playing [with the ball] for the most part, so that’s something that I’m kind of more comfortable with, as opposed to being a catch-and-shoot guy, which I’ve done in the past. Once again, I think it’s advantageous to what I like to do.”
With several weeks of preseason ahead, the former Pacer isn’t stressing as he adjusts on the fly and starts a new chapter of his career in Boston.
“I’m fine. I’m not really worried,” Turner noted. “It’s the first day of practice, so once again, I want to learn all the plays and just get a pace to myself. I think that’s the biggest thing. If you have pace, I think you’ll be fine.”