Semi Ojeleye close to being an elite NBA defender

Prior to this NBA season, I wrote in CelticsLife about rookie Semi Ojeleye being a gem found in the second round of the draft. Well it appears that Coach Brad Stevens remains high on this kid's potential and is polishing his skills, specifically on the defensive end. Here is MassLive's Jay King with Brad Stevens thoughts:
"I think he can be elite defensively," Stevens said Monday night before hosting the Milwaukee Bucks. "And I'm not sure he's far from it now. He's able to guard 1-5. He guarded (Devin) Booker for a couple possessions the other day and I was kicking myself for not trying it earlier. He just has a great base, strength and lateral athleticism that's very unique."

During two previous meeting with the Bucks, Ojeleye spent some time defending MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo. That's obviously a tall task, but Ojeleye held his own.

At the other end of the court, Ojeleye hasn't tried to do much. His usage rate of 10.2 percent ranks last among Celtics regulars by a wide margin. Almost 80 percent of his shot attempts have come from behind the 3-point arc, but he hasn't consistently knocked down looks yet.

"He's a very capable 3-point shooter and he's a guy you have to guard out there," said Stevens.

Semi has the size (6'7" and 235 lbs.), maturity (23 years old), mobility and instincts to be an elite defender. Watch the footwork and defensive instincts in the video below:

As we know, with the Celtics, your defense gets you on the floor and your offense keeps you there. Ojeleye's defense is already terrific for a rookie and will improve. He is still primarily a catch-and-shoot offensive player who needs to work on that end. Semi is signed through the 2020-21 season on a very team-friendly contract. With a bit more polish, this gem from the second round may very well shine.

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Photo via Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Video via Scouts Honor Celtics