The improved play of Semi Ojeleye

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    Celtics forward Semi Ojeleye has been known throughout his NBA career for his intense workout regimen. Ojeleye has also been a favorite of Brad Stevens for his defensive presence, which has given him the title of “Giannis Stopper.” However, Ojeleye has demonstrated limited improvement on the offensive side of the game during his first three years in Boston. Until now. 

Semi Ojeleye has become an important part of the Celtic bench early in the 2020-2021 NBA season. Through eight games, Ojeleye is shooting 42% on 2.6 three point attempts a game. While he is only averaging 5.8 points per game, he is doing so in roughly 16 minutes of play. These numbers don’t jump off the page, but if Celtics fans have watched Ojeleye through his time in Boston, his improvement is both apparent and welcomed.

His three point shooting is a key improvement, as it provides floor spacing for both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. As a corner three point shooter, Ojeleye has displayed the ability to excel, which allows the Jay’s to have increased space to drive and control the offense. Establishing a level of trust between Tatum and Brown will help Boston’s offense flow with increased fluidity, and contribute to both Tatum and Brown’s development as passers. With that being said, Ojeleye must continue to be aggressive on both offense and defense, and welcome the opportunity to shoot the ball. 

More than anything, Ojeleye looks more willing to shoot the basketball and find ways to score. His offense is especially needed right now for the Celtics, as Coach Stevens works to establish a rotation amidst injuries to Kemba Walker, Romeo Langford, and Jeff Teague. As it stands, the Celtics do not have a consistent scoring presence off of the bench aside from rookie sensation, Payton Pritchard. Ojeleye may never be a consistent scoring presence, but his improved offensive game should allow for him to receive consistent minutes in the rotation. 

While Celtics fans have often been frustrated with Coach Stevens’ fixation on playing Ojeleye, this year Ojeleye has made the most of his minutes. Believe it or not, Ojeleye is one of the longest tenured bench players that the Celtics have right now, so his contributions are more than welcomed. The season is still in its early stages, but if Ojeleye continues to confidently shoot the ball in the confines of Boston’s offense, this should bode well for his chances to establish himself as a key rotation piece.