Despite reduced minutes, Semi Ojeleye remains ready for the call
In my early days as a writer for CelticsLife, I wrote about Semi Ojeleye being a gem found in the second round of the 2017 NBA draft. Danny Ainge unearthed him, but he needed some cutting and polishing to bring out his luster. Well, his weight lifting has made him as cut as any NBA player - but the polishing is behind schedule, mostly because he just can't find sufficient minutes in the Celtics lineups. But this young man simply defines the word keeper in so many ways.
Let's start with his contract. Only $1.4 million this season, $1.6 million for 2019-20 and $1.8 million for 2020-21 - at which time he will only be 25 years old. And the final two seasons are non-guaranteed.
Brad Stevens called Semi an elite defender even last season, and he hasn't lost any of that. As a matter of fact, his Defensive Rating has gone from 102.8 last season to 97.6 this year. His Net Rating has soared from minus-7.5 in 2017-18 to +7.3 (rated 57th in the NBA) this season.
New: Brad Stevens said he might be the Cs' most improved player. Al Horford called him their hardest worker. Marcus Smart loves watching him play defense and hears him clanging weights after most games. So, where's Semi Ojeleye? https://t.co/aemwpm7pS7
There will be some moments in the upcoming playoffs when this gem unearthed in the second round will get his call to shut down an opponent that is making mincemeat of the Celtics defense - and he will be ready! He always is.
Follow Tom at @TomLaneHC, @CelticsSentinel and Facebook