Hailing from Gaziosmanpaşa, Istanbul, Celtics rookie Semih Erden still needs a translator to help him with the English language. After making his first NBA appearance on Wenesday, it appears as though his game translates pretty well on the basketball court.
Erden logged over 23 minutes of playing time, scoring 13 points on 3-3 shooting from the field and 7-8 from the line, while grabbing five boards. His efforts along with the rest of the team's propelled the C's to the 93-65 shellacking of the Sixers.
"Defensively and offensively you can see he's played the game," Rivers said of Erden. "He has a really high IQ and he's been able to pick up our defense pretty well. He had some coverages today that were fantastic. The bumps, getting back out, finding his guy in rotation - that takes a while to get and he has it already."
While Erden has undoubtedly learned a lot playing oversees in Turkey for the past several years, his brief time on the Celtics playing against Hall of Famers Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett, along with Jermaine O'Neal and Glen Davis, have surely prepared him for what lies ahead.
"Everyday he's playing against Shaq in practice, and I wouldn't wish that on anybody because we don't call those offensive fouls in practice," Rivers said. "He has to play through it. So for him to play against someone else, it was probably a joy."
Erden had zero hype coming out of the NBA draft, and rightfully so. Many said he wasn't even the best player on the Turkish National team when the Celtics drafted him. Perhaps the fact that he was away from the major spotlight for such a long time has given him the ability to shrug off nerve s.
"Sometimes it's good to be oblivious to what goes on, and not be star struck," Ray Allen said. "If he went to college in this country, it probably would have been tough on him because you're over-inundated with SportsCenter ... So he's just a guy who's not fazed and you come out and do your job like the lights come on and nothing changes."
Shaq Makes Debut
He was the first name announced over the loud speaker in the Verizon Wireless Arena, and Shaquille O'Neal could certainly hear the love.
The 15-time NBA All-Star made his debut in Green Wednesday night to the tune of eight points and two rebounds in 15 minutes of playing time.
Rajon Rondo and Shaquille O'Neal wasted no time getting acclimated with each other on the court, as Rondo tossed Shaq an ally-oop just minutes into the start of the game. The basket was Shaq's first in a Celtics uniform, and he followed it up with a turnaround jump shot that found the back of the net just minutes later.
Shaq has fit in well with the Celtics upon his arrival so far, and certainly fill the void left by Kendrick Perkins' injury. Shaq doesn't need the ball in his hands to be effective, as just having him out on the court gives the C's more options.
"When you have Shaq on the floor and Kevin on the floor, you have the ability to post Paul," Rivers said. "We're going to post Rondo up more this year. We posted Ray tonight. And that's one of the things we really focused on in training camp. I loved the spacing and that our guys were staying with it."
Still, Shaq isn't all there yet, and he will be the first to admit it. It is only the preseason, and he'll take his time getting adjusted to the new team before the start of the regular season.
"I'm just trying to get into it with the guys, and just trying to stay a thousand percent healthy, because in a couple weeks, you know, it's for all the marbles," O'Neal said. "So I just want to go out there and not really do too much; just do a little bit and have fun."