Jesusemilore Talodabijesu Ojeleye (Semi Ojeleye) encapsulates Celtic Pride; he’s a no-nonsense teammate, that guy you want to battle with night in and night out. When you look at the current roster for the Celtics and you had to pick a single trait to describe Semi Ojeleye, I think most people would settle on “hard working.” As far as work ethic goes, Semi is as good as gets, rarely taking days off and staying humble during the grind of the NBA season.
With a log jam of wing players and the return of Gordon Hayward from injury, Semi Ojeleye saw his minutes heavily reduced in his sophomore season. With limited opportunities to shine, the 2nd round (37th pick) of the 2017 NBA Draft found himself out of the rotation. However, Semi is always thought of as that role player to be counted on, to be solid and dependable. Ojeleye is a guy you can rely on to make good reads, to make the extra pass and when needed, knock down the occasional three pointer.
His real value in Brad Stevens system though, is his defensive ability to switch across all the frontline positions. Semi is pretty unique for Coach Stevens in that he doesn’t often lose ground to larger 7-footers and also has the foot speed to cover the league’s most agile wings. What he lacks in offensive prowess is countered by his ability to impact the game from a hustle and physical standpoint.
With the season’s losses taking there toll on the wider fanbase and no doubt the team itself, the seemingly reserved Ojeleye called out his teammates after a tough March loss at the hands of Houston. Semi in a sense encapsulated the sentiment of us fans all season long, exclaiming “Wake the [expletive] up!”
Semi was a not given much of an opportunity to impact the Milwaukee Bucks series, as he did last season, with a DNP in a crucial Game 4 and only garbage time minutes in a Game 5 decider. In the pressure cooker of Game 2 and 3 of this series, Ojeleye played 11 minutes per outing and had a few nice offensive possessions with his corner threes providing a spark and his hustle allowed Boston to get back into those games.
As Brad Stevens, Danny Ainge, and the front office review the performances of the entire team before making crucial off-season decisions, that one trait of Semi Ojeleye that you gravitate toward is his work ethic. Often heard slamming the medicine ball against the walls of TD Garden and the training facility at all hours, veterans Al Horford and Marcus Morris Sr. have both singled out Semi’s post and pre-game in the midst of his rituals to the media.
Semi is halfway through a 4-year deal he signed in 2017, and it’s possible he could be the victim of a cap space clear out or utilized as trade filler in a larger deal depending on the direction the team take. Boston has a team option on Ojeleye in 2020-21 to the tune of $1,752,950 and next season, Semi has an non-guaranteed contract of $1,618,520 until Monday, July 1, 2019.
A few dominoes need to fall before the fate of Semi Ojeleye in kelly green is clear, but one thing is certain: Semi will always be a hard worker and ready to contribute when the Celtics call on him.