Brad Stevens quipped about Kemba Walker’s status as Walker flew by the press conference area on his way to the bathroom. The sprint displayed great mobility, change-of-direction, Stevens told reporters hungry for more information about the Celtics’ biggest training camp question.
The Celtics remain optimistic about Walker’s trajectory despite his limited status early in training camp. They suffered their first setback, though, late last week in practice when Tremont Waters suffered a concussion. Stevens raved about the best practice he’d seen yet from Waters days prior, and noted he’d factor heavily into the scrimmages. He’s now in the back-end of concussion protocol, but has not been cleared for activity.
Stevens, Tacko Fall and Robert Williams spoke after Boston’s eighth practice in the Orlando bubble. Despite the momentary thinning of bodies at the typical point guard position, Stevens continues to emphasize ball-handling on the wings with blitzes against Jayson Tatum as a central focus.
Tatum worked with Jay Larranaga on drop-backs and dish-outs that turn into quick passes back to set him up for attacks. The Celtics otherwise prepped their positioning on utilizing screens, approaching them from the correct position on defense and general conditioning as the main fundamentals of this re-entry period. Players and coaches deem the playbook and game-planning secondary to regaining legs and habits at this point in camp.
The second unit emerged as an early development to Stevens, despite Waters’ stalled progress. Carsen Edwards and Romeo Langford attacked and absorbed feedback at a higher level since arriving in Orlando, Robert Williams said. Williams added that pain subsided in his hip after hobbling back from a long-term injury in March.
Fall discussed the difficulty being within minutes of his original stomping grounds in the United States. His host family called, upset that he’s in lockdown a brief car ride from them. Despite that reality, it’s also allowing him to be in practice full-time, without trips back-and-forth to Maine interrupting his close proximity to Celtics development oversight. That benefit cuts both ways — with Williams intent his presence in practice helps Boston.
“He doesn’t want to be known as a 7-footer that can’t move,” he said. “You can see the progress he’s making, you can see that he’s grinding and he wants to be known for different stuff. And you can’t do nothing but respect it.”