RJ Hunter is taking his Rookie Year in stride, not worried about playing time
With the NCAA Tournament in full swing, it brings back memories of RJ Hunter and his tremendous season at Georgia State last year that propelled the Celtics to draft him. It's been a big change in terms of scenery and playing time for Hunter as well. Given that it's his rookie year, he hasn't been given much playing time, but in the times that he has been out there on the court, he has shown some flashes of ability.
While Hunter is learning the ropes behind vets like Bradley and Thomas, he always stays ready to play should an injury occur. Via Jay King of Masslive.com:
So much has changed now that Hunter's in the NBA, playing very few minutes for the Celtics, but really the quest is the same: prepare yourself, stay ready, work and improve and hopefully seize the opportunity when it comes. When the shooting guard struggled early in summer league, he reminded reporters the goal isn't to peak on Day 1 or Day 2. Now, seeing rare playing time as a rookie, he takes a similar approach.
"I just try to teach myself patience," Hunter said recently in Toronto. "I know I'm in this for the long haul, so I don't really freak out over how the year has gone. So I just continue to stay the course, take it day by day, possession by possession. And I think everything will take care of itself."
Hunter also talked about how important the D-League is in terms of getting shots up and being ready for the moment:
A little more evidence of that: in his previous game, Hunter's first shot, a corner three, floated several feet past the basket. He later redeemed himself by canning a jumper from the opposite wing, but that miss stuck with him.
"That was crazy," he said. "I watched it. I was like, oh, f---, as I let it go. I tried to act like I was passing. I was pointing like, are you gonna be there?"
"You definitely lose rhythm," Hunter continued. "That's why the D-League's important. So you still have to stay ready regardless. Nobody cares if you're in rhythm or not when you're on the court."
Even without much playing time, Hunter has managed to stay happy and consistently roots for his teammates from the bench:
"I'm just trying to stay prepared," Hunter said. "It's good. You kind of have to put your ego to the side. Your team's third or fourth in the East (fifth now). You're good, just staying ready."
He added: "I've never sat the bench on any team I've ever been on. So I think that's different. But you kind of have to go through it. I think I have more appreciation of the game now when I get in. And I have more appreciation for winning games, not just playing games. So you kind of have to sit back and just watch that, instead of always being thrown into the game."
It's nice to see that Hunter is a humble kid who quietly works hard and tries to stay ready for any moment that his number is called by Brad Stevens. With so many guards and good wings on this team, it's hard for the rookies to get any playing time but with Crowder's recent injury, it has paved the way for more court time for Hunter. With his combination of size and shooting, he will be a very tough cover in a few years. It's all about preparing and getting better for Hunter right now and when the time is right, his name will be called.
Image Credit: Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images
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