BOSTON — Oshae Brissett heard about the Celtics’ search for a big wing before the trade deadline, Brad Stevens’ most direct pronouncement about what the team will consider in the coming weeks before the trade deadline. Stevens stressed that that big wing could already be on the roster.
With Sam Hauser squarely in the rotation and other forwards mostly uninvolved all season, no other player appears to fit that description other than Brissett. At that time, he sat outside of the rotation after a difficult shooting start to the season. Joe Mazzulla used him consistently in the opening weeks of the season, and almost on call, inserted him early the night after Stevens’ comments with Al Horford out on the first half of a back-to-back against Utah. Brissett immediately stripped Jordan Clarkson, dove on the loose ball and grabbed a steal.
“It hasn’t been like, ‘oh, this is what we’re looking for guys, we need someone to step up,’” Brissett told CLNS Media/CelticsBlog. “It has never been like that. Every day we come with a different game plan for a different team and we focus on that. Whoever Joe wants to put out there, whatever he feels like is gonna help us win, everybody has to be ok with that and we go out there and play our best game.”
Still, Brissett and Svi Mykhailiuk appeared more often as the Celtics’ recent packed schedule led to more rest for Horford and Kristaps Porzingis. A Luke Kornet injury also opened up the eighth rotation spot that has more often become Brissett’s again with a front court player down. Brissett calmed down considerably on the floor in his second rotation stint after shooting 3-for-18 from the field and 1-for-9 from three in his first four games.
He didn’t tweak his shot at all, instead firing up a million at the facility each day as he racked up 13 DNP-CD nights over the following 17 games. Opportunity returned when Kornet suffered an adductor strain in pregame layup lines before the Celtics faced the Magic. With Neemias Queta already inactive, Brissett scored 11 points in 15 minutes and hit a three, the first of four makes in a row over a five-game stretch.
“Whatever happens is out of my control, it’s out of everyone here’s in control, just gotta go out there and do what you do,” Brissett said of the deadline. ‘I’ve had the opportunity to play, I’ve had the opportunity to show what I can do and I feel like I do a good job with that, but again, whatever happens happens. I just always appreciate the opportunity to be here in the NBA and especially on a team like this.”
Joe Mazzulla announced last month that Boston’s bench unit would typically only feature Payton Pritchard, Al Horford, Hauser and Kornet when healthy. Only Horford and Pritchard feature significant playoff experience out of that group, while the rest of the bench players have featured in Stay Ready action, the name many teams give to their players who don’t play regularly and sometimes need morning scrimmage action with coaches to maintain stamina. Brissett — who sits squarely between those two groups — also lacks playoff experience.
Off the court, though, he’s become a locker room staple, forming a bond with Jayson Tatum, perhaps ranking second behind Kornet in bench celebration energy while his springy dunks and intense play style on the court have endeared him to fans. His social media and vlogging presence, BrissyFiles, continue to bring fans inside the team, with photos from the team’s flight to his native Toronto on Sunday showing Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis, as well as Tatum and Horford sitting next to each other on the plane. Brissett has documented his own travel routine, including having a bowl Chipotle and a coffee before boarding.
That made him a natural fit for the team’s event commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. Day with Boston children. Brissett met with them and handed out cameras as gifts they could test out for the first time during the group’s visit to The Embrace statue, unveiled in Boston Common one year ago depicting King and wife Coretta Scott King, who met in Boston, hugging. Brissett didn’t dive down the rabbit hole he’s followed learning about the ins-and-outs of shooting, a hobby he picked up last summer, and simply enjoy the experience and be happy with what they shoot.
“It was cool. I feel like anytime I have a chance to put my name out there in the community and let them know we’re regular people and we have fun and we have hobbies just like them. I always enjoy stuff like that,” Brissett said. “That’s why I kind of wanted to go one of the camera route and talk to them about stuff that I do off the court and just bring them together. I think that was really the whole message, especially behind Martin Luther King and everything that he’s done, which is inclusivity and bringing everybody together. So that’s kind of where my head was at with that event, but it was fun.”
That push to humanize himself and teammates originally inspired Brissett’s Youtube channel but he never pressured himself to do more than learn about DSLR Sony cameras, which he settled on after visiting camera stores in every city he’s traveled to. He also learned from YouTube, along with Instagram and TikTok creators. Before high school, Brissett explored hobbies ranging from cartoons to the trombone, eventually deciding to commit fully to basketball after seeing teammates receive scholarships.
Now, after a wide-ranging journey from Las Vegas to Syracuse University, the Raptors and Pacers G-League systems, his first professional contract with Indiana and his second in Boston, a two-year deal in July, Brissett received his greatest opportunity yet to both win and contribute to a team on a consistent level. He’s scored 4.9 points per game over his last nine appearances, is posting the highest offensive rebounding rate (10.5%) of his career, which would tie Domantas Sabonis for 17th if he qualified.
On Saturday, he capped a blowout win over the Rockets by chasing down a Pritchard alley-oop off the glass. Another moment that showed him taking pressure off himself and just playing, rather than trying to prove himself before the deadline.
“I actually ran my ass off to try to catch it,” Brissett joked. “(Pritchard’s) just fast, but I watched the video and it looked good. So get the crowd hype, we like doing that.”