Guerschon Yabusele finally has an opportunity to earn some minutes against the Dallas Mavericks
When you look at the Boston Celtics season, it is hard to find any disappointments. Other than the devastating injury to Gordon Hayward, almost every player on this team is working out the way they needed, or better. The one exception, however, is Guerschon Yabusele.
The Dancing Bear was a fan favorite entering this season, and was expected to be one of the more important bigs coming off the bench. The only obstacle in his way were the two other rookie bigs in Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye.
So far, the other two rookies have important and consistent roles on the team, and Yabusele still has to be concerned about hitting the court, and even being sent down to the Maine Red Claws. Yabusele was not able to impress with his early opportunities, and now it is becoming even harder to justify putting him on the court.
The Celtics feel great about that front court depth, especially on defense, and the other two have been too important on defense to give them minutes to see what Yabusele has to offer.
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Against the Dallas Mavericks, Yabusele could have the exact opportunity he is looking for. He was really impressive in the game he played for the Red Claws, but that is not going to be enough. Yabusele needs to impress against NBA competition to start getting minutes, and there should be room to give him minutes against the Mavericks.
Firstly, Marcus Morris is out. The front court depth just got a bit weaker, and there is going to be more available minutes for Yabusele. Of course, there is the risk that Brad Stevens just gives the more impressive young bigs even more minutes, but the Mavericks are the kind of team that should allow Yabusele to get those minutes, without having too much risk of blowing the game.
The Celtics should have no problem defeating the Mavericks, and if they play well, there could be a lot of garbage time opportunities. If the game is close, Yabusele will need to have an immediate impact to continue to get more minutes, because getting the win is going to be the priority. If the game is not close, and the Celtics know they are capable of getting it to that point, then Yabusele could finally get an opportunity to find rhythm and have a real impact on the game.
The first thing Yabusele needs to do is show he can play defense. He needs to show he has the same versatility that Ojeleye does, and he will not be pushed too far against anyone on the Mavericks. It would only be the start, but Yabusele needs to finally have that great performance against an NBA team, even if it is weak NBA competition.
If Stevens can start to see the defense he wants, then that can lead to more minutes down the line. The problem is that Yabusele needs to prove more than just defense, because both Theis and Ojeleye are doing a decent job on offense as well.
Yabusele is too far behind to make it all up in one game against the Mavericks, but there are the kind of games where he needs to take advantage of the situation. Yabusele is not going to get these first opportunities in the tougher games, because they are too important.
It needs to be gradual for Yabusele, and this could be the start of getting him into the rotation. The Celtics feel great about the versatile bigs, but the Celtics will never have too many of them. If Yabusele can prove that he can play the kind of role that Theis and Ojeleye have been, then those second unit troubles should completely disappear, and this defense could get even better.