Rookie Jordan Walsh has spent the majority of his time deep on the Celtics bench or with the Maine Celtics. Recently, however, he’s been getting into an occasional game during garbage time. He played 3 minutes in both the Spurs and Heat blowout wins but came away scoreless. With the Celtics pulling away from the extremely shorthanded Memphis Grizzlies, the only drama left was seeing if Jordan would log his first points. And of course, he delivered in the most Jordan Walsh way possible.
The fellas from CelticsBlog Playback caught it here.
In 14 games in Maine (thus far) Walsh is averaging 15.9 points and 7.9 rebounds per game. Notably, he’s shooting 36% from 3-point land and impressed head coach Joe Mazzulla with his developing NBA-level defense.
“What’s stood out is his growth as a player and understanding that the most important thing is defense,” Mazzulla said. “I loved his defensive positioning and his defensive physicality and his instincts. I think that’s gotten a lot better since the beginning of the year. That’s the challenge for any young player — really buying in to the fact that regardless of what you are offensively or how it went in college, you have to play defense. You gotta learn defense and he’s done a great job of that.”
Come to think of it, I think it is fitting that Walsh’s first points came on the night when the Celtics paid tribute to Marcus Smart, since Jordan’s hustle and tenacity have shades of Marcus in them.
“Celtics fans know that basketball is more than getting 30 a night. It’s about the hustle plays. It’s about diving on the floor,” Walsh said of Marcus Smart. “The clips that were on the Jumbotron, most of them were him diving on the floor and blocking shots. For that to be the highlight of what he was while he was here and the fans love that about him, that speaks a lot to the tradition and culture of the Celtics.”
If he can continue to work on his outside shot, his hustle, defense, and athleticism could put him in position to contribute in future years. For the time being, however, he’ll need to content himself to enjoy the view from the bench and occasionally contribute some minutes in a blowout situation.
Cheers to Jordan for this accomplishment. Here’s to many more in the future.