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Guerschon Yabusele, the Celtics’ ‘Dancing Bear,’ hopes to tap into more playing time

BOSTON — For many, Guerschon Yabusele is the nimble-footed big man for the Boston Celtics affectionately known as “the Dancing Bear.”

Others know him for the bow-and-dab gesture he makes after draining a 3-pointer.

Veteran Celtics like Al Horford proclaim Yabusele as the unofficial team DJ.

“You never know what he’s going to throw in there,” Horford told NBC Sports Boston. “House music, French house music.”

But the second-year forward is on a mission to add a far more important title to his credit: reliable basketball player.

And while he did not log a ton of minutes during Boston’s preseason slate of games, Yabusele showed flashes of being someone who may very well be on his way to carving out a role for himself this season.

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At 6-foot-8 and 260 pounds, the 22-year-old has traditional power forward size and a muscular frame that might allow him to play one position up, at center.

Coach Brad Stevens acknowledged he has given thought to using Yabusele in a multitude of roles this season.

“Guerschon’s ability to play not only as the five (center), but also move his feet at the four (power forward), may allow us to do some things against some smaller lineups,” Stevens said. “His ability to post and rebound … are pretty important.”

Yabusele had a strong Summer League for Boston and seemed to pick up where he left off when afford his first lengthy stint in the preseason during Boston’s 115-112 win on September 30.

In the Celtics’ lone preseason win, Yabusele scored all eight of his points in the decisive fourth quarter as Boston made a concerted effort to get Yabusele the ball in the post frequently as he managed to get himself switched out against smaller players that he repeatedly punished with a series of back-to-the basket buckets.

Following the game, Yabusele said the opportunity to play and contribute to the win, was a huge boost to his confidence.

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“I’m just trying to play with a lot of confidence when I’m on the court, make my shots when I’m open, try to read the actions on defense and just have some playing time,” Yabusele told NBC Sports Boston.

Adding to that was the pressure of the moment, something that’s hard to simulate in practice because there are so many other players ahead of him in the team pecking order.

That’s why Summer League and opportunities to play in the preseason, especially in crunch time, are so vital to his own personal growth.

“You have to be extra focused,” Yabusele told NBC Sports Boston. “The game was tight; we were winning, we were losing. So at this point, you have to be focused. Every possession matters; don’t turn it over, do extra stuff. Just read the game, make simple passes and be good on defense.”

And in doing so, folks will see more than just “the Dancing Bear” or the man behind the dab-and-arrow.

“I can play basketball too, you know,” quipped Yabusele. “That’s why I’m here. I can bring a lot of stuff to the team and I’m happy to be here. I’m looking forward to stepping on the court and work.”

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