WALTHAM — Training camp in the NBA is never a good time to miss action, especially for a rookie.
Unfortunately, Celtics first-round pick James Young is in that situation. The 19-year-old had an impressive start to the preseason after a strong first week of training camp, capped by scoring 10 points in his NBA debut on October 6th. That momentum was quickly put to a halt the next day when Young informed Celtics trainers that his hamstring was bothering him.
A strain was diagnosed, and it has forced the former Kentucky star to miss the past couple weeks of games and practices with his new teammates. Young returned to practice on a limited basis on Monday, fully aware he has a lot of work to do from a mental and physical standpoint to be ready for the start of the regular season next week.
Head coach Brad Stevens will be watching him closely on Tuesday as the rookie goes through his first full contact practice since being sidelined with the strain.
“He’s got some ground to make up,” Stevens acknowledged. “More so from a standpoint of us just evaluating him and seeing how he can perform in these environments and in these games. He did well in Game 1 on a bad hammy. He hasn’t had a chance to play or practice as far as competing yet.
“Today will be the first day. Today is as important as tomorrow for him because he’s going up against Jeff Green or he’s going up against Avery Bradley or Marcus Thornton. Those are guys that he needs to measure himself against right now.”
Young himself is just relieved to have the opportunity to be back out there, for the time being.
“[Practicing Monday] felt really good to not just sit and watch and actually go through the actions with the team,” Young explained. “We put in a few new plays so I think I got everything by now. I was ready to go out there and practice. Everything was good yesterday, so I’m back in the flow.”
With Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton, and Avery Bradley thriving throughout the preseason, and the return of Rajon Rondo looming, minutes may be tough to come by for Young over the next couple months. Despite the fact he may be the odd man out in the minutes game, Young displayed a patient attitude when it comes to his role with the team on Tuesday.
“I’m so young so I try to just not to think about things too much…When my time is right, my time is right,” Young said.
For the interim, Young’s plan is to try to show his impressive debut game was no fluke, starting with Wednesday night’s preseason finale against the Brooklyn Nets.
“I’m just [trying] to get back into the flow of things. I’m going to try not to think about things too much and act like I’ve been on the floor for a few games and do what everyone else is doing.”