Feb 22, 2012; Syracuse, NY, USA; Syracuse Orange forward Kris Joseph (32) dribbles the ball during the second half of a game against the South Florida Bulls at the Carrier Dome. Syracuse won the game 56-48. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-US PRESSWIRE
Little stories like this are getting me giddy for training camp. We're still about two weeks out, but we're starting to hear sneakers squeaking here and there and stories about informal practices, late night work out sessions between vets and rookies, pick up games, and yes, players punking each other with monster dunks and reporting them through social media. Last week, Courtney Lee tweeted about a mystery dunk over an undisclosed teammate and yesterday, we got word that Kris Joseph threw down on Melo. Fab seems like a great guy with a great sense of humor--he was voted Funniest Rookie at the NBA Rookie Transition Program and had some fun with breaking a chair--so I'm sure his fellow rookies feel comfortable punking him publicly, but when training camp is in full effect, I doubt they'll do the same with Garnett. In Joseph's defense, it was a bit of a humble brag. He didn't take to Twitter to post about his latest poster on his Orangeman teammate. That seems in character for a guy that has a pretty modest approach to the game and lets his play do the talking.
ESPN Boston: Kris Joseph ready for rookie season (via espnforsberg)
Kris Joseph was a late second-round pick and at #51, you take what you can get, but take a look at the players that came off the board after Danny picked Syracuse's leading scorer; there were a lot of Euro seven footers that Danny could have stashed away like Semih Erden in 2008, a popular move by many GM's who hope some time away from the NBA will help incubate them into better prospects. Instead, Danny opted to go with an already polished player who had four years under his belt playing in arguably the best basketball conference in the country. In years past, Danny would fall in love with upside. If it wasn't gawking over size for size's sake (Robert Swift, anyone?), he'd gamble on a high wire act with players that could jump out of a gym but not hit a jump shot (see: Bill Walker, Gerald Green, and J.R. Giddens).
Joseph seems like a departure from that strategy. It's not that Joseph lacks potential per se. It's more so that he's already playing up to his talent level. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Upside is a tricky thing because experts set the ceiling and some players struggle to meet high expectations for one reason or another. When you watch Joseph, he seems comfortable on the floor, like he knows his own limitations and doesn't have to prove anything. The question is whether that is good enough and if it isn't, whether Joseph can tighten the screws even further and adapt his all around game to the NBA.
Joseph didn't sparkle in summer league play like some of the other rookies, averaging only 7.8 points in almost 21 minutes a game, but watching him play, you can see why Danny is willing to give this kid a chance. He makes cliches true: "he plays with patience and at his own speed," "he has a nose for the ball," and "he finds a way to score." He's the type of plug-and-play player that Dionte Christmas is and specifically reminds me so much of Paul Pierce. The Captain was a lottery pick but one that fell on draft night because he didn't project as a superstar level player. Like Pierce, Joseph's not flashy and won't open your eyes with a big dunk, but at the end of the night, you look at the box score and you see that he went to the line a bunch of times and scored fairly efficiently without having the ball in his hands all the time.
Well, maybe he will surprise us with a dunk or two. We'll have to ask Fab Melo, who highlights tomorrrow's coverage of CelticsBlog's 15 Days Of Celtics Players.