Daniel Theis was the Boston Celtics’ first acquisition of the summer, but he was also arguably the least well-known — a German big man who had spent his entire career overseas, save for a short stint on a 2013 Summer League team.
The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach wrote a feature on Theis and the Celtics’ interest in him, which developed over several years. In that feature, Theis gave himself a very favorable model for his game.
“People think I will say Dirk Nowitzki, because he is German,” Theis told Himmelsbach, “but it was always Kevin Garnett. He doesn’t look strong, but he’s so strong, especially his mind, like his mental setup.”
Before Celtics fans go crazy: Daniel Theis is not Kevin Garnett. Garnett was a once-in-a-generation defensive talent, who not only had the physical tools to be elite, but also had an understanding of the defensive end that bordered on freakish.
But Theis is versatile and athletic, two attributes Garnett exhibited on a nightly basis. He’s also tough — a rugged rebounder and defender who, like Garnett, is happy to take care of the gritty details. Theis, who clearly watched the Celtics last season, had another comparison for himself.
“You need other players to play defense and do, not the dirty stuff, but maybe the stuff that’s not on the stat sheet every time: setting screens, rolling, and just things like what Marcus Smart did a lot,” Theis said to Himmelsbach. “He didn’t average a lot of points, but maybe he took every game at least one charge. I think that’s also for me very important.”
That’s a pretty perfect summation of Smart and also the type of basketball that will earn Theis regular minutes. The Celtics have scorers in Gordon Hayward and Isaiah Thomas. If Theis can pitch in rebounds, good hard screens and the occasional charge taken, he should make the team and could find himself in the rotation.