Connect with us

Boston Celtics

Celtics work on new skill for big man Guerschon Yabusele

To be an NBA player is to be constantly plopped in front of a video monitor for a self-improvement show and the star is you.

So when Jay Larranaga put his mind to creating individual videos for those summer leaguers most closely tied to the team, the Celtics assistant coach identified Guerschon Yabusele’s response to close-out defenders as a potential strength.

The young power forward has shown promise from the 3-point line, especially for a 270-pound big man, and has won over fans and teammates alike with his “bow dab” celebration whenever he buries a 3.

But as opponents began to respect his deep shot more, Yabusele was sometimes at a loss for how to drive on an attacking defender.

That’s why the summer-league audience saw more of Yabusele’s dribble drive, not to mention a more polished finisher in transition. He put the ball to the floor with more confidence, and on a few occasions even led the break, on one occasion against the Knicks with a coast-to-coast drive off a rebound.

“He’s done that his whole life, and he’s done that for us in the regular season,” said Larranaga. “We encourage him to do that. He just needs to pick and choose his spots of when to roll, when to attack a close-out, and when he’s open and needs to let the 3 fly.”

It helped that Yabusele was allowed to play a featured role in his third summer league alongside 2017-18 teammates Semi Ojeleye and Jabari Bird.

The Celtics lost to eventual champion Portland in the NBA Summer League quarterfinals. But as was true against a Portland team loaded up with talent from the last three NBA drafts, Yabusele went to work against an entire host of talented youth.

With rookie Robert Williams unable to play due to a knee contusion, Yabusele’s time increased at both the so-called 4 and 5 spots, with the idea his versatility had to be expanded.

“It’s getting reps against high-level competition,” Larranaga said of Las Vegas. “You remember Evan Turner, Marcus Smart, Terry Rozier — all of these players have been the most gifted their age, and have been able to get away with a lot of things, until they get to the NBA.

“Now in the NBA you have the most physically gifted, and you need to adjust, figure out what can I do here?” said Larranaga. “Am I going to get my shot blocked when I drive against this guy? How quick can this guy close out on me? Repetition is what helps you to compete against elite athleticism.”

Yabusele believes he came out better for the experience.

“I feel my confidence is different. When I put it on the floor I know what I’m doing.” he said. “Just happy to come here and compete, play hard, be a little better in my game and work my game.”

From what Larranaga can tell, Yabusele is making good on his need to improve on those areas.

“He’s a ballhandling big guy with very good court vision,” the assistant coach said. “He sees guys like Al and how he does it. Guys like that are at their most dangerous when they have the ball in the post as passers.”


According to a Yahoo! Sports report, the Celtics waved reserve winger Abdel Nader yesterday. The onetime Iowa State forward was taken by the Celtics with the 58th pick of the 2016 NBA draft. The move opens one regular roster spot, in addition to two available two-way contracts if the team doesn’t re-sign Bird.


More in Boston Celtics