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With the Celtics preseason well under way, rosters are starting to take some-sort of shape. While Doc Rivers plays around with some players and moves others, Turkish center Semih Erden figures to have some kind of role with the Celtics. We all know that Kendrick Perkins is out a couple months due to knee surgery, so with that, Erden may have a chance to prove he can play in the NBA. His chance will come at the hands of two O’Neal’s — Shaquille and Jermaine. If those two veterans run into the injuries or hit a bad slump, it will be Erden’s time to shine, but until then it’s to the back of the bench for the 24-year-old Turk.
This preseason has not shown me enough to be encouraged by the Erden’s potential, but that also doesn’t mean it’s not there. In this past summer’s World Basketball Championship, Erden was one of the key members of the team from Turkey. He posted averages of 9.1 points, 4.6 rebounds per game with a 62.5% shooting percentage — pretty impressive numbers considering he was going up against some of the best players in the world. Against the U.S., he put up nine points on 4-for-5 shooting with two rebounds in 18 minutes.
So, what can we expect from the Turk? Solid minutes. Erden is not a player that is going to make the highlight reels or throw down amazing dunks, he’s just not going to. At 6-foot-11 and 240 pounds, he will clog up the middle of the lane and make it difficult for teams to go inside.
The one thing that I have noticed is that he does not have the best hands, at all. At almost seven feet tall, you would think that he’d grab every single rebound, but that hasn’t been the case. He’s struggled on his timing and controlling the basketball, making it very difficult to pull down the rebounds.
A couple of other concerns are his turnovers and moving pick violations. Through six preseason games with the Celtics, Erden has averaged 2.83 turnovers a game while playing 22 minutes. For someone who doesn’t have the ball in his possession too often, that is a lot of turnovers. If he was a point guard it wouldn’t look as bad, but he’s not.
Moving pick violations? Do we really need another center who is going to be called every two minutes for moving picks??? I really hope not. If Erden was trying to replicate Perkins, the one thing he can avoid doing is setting moving picks. He has been getting called for it nearly every time and it’s a waste. Why send the other team to the line for a moving pick when you don’t have to? In his six games with Boston, he has averaged 4.5 fouls per game, which is an awful number right there. That is nearly fouling out every game, and that is something we don’t need.
I know that I’ve seen a lot of negative things from Erden thus far, but that doesn’t mean he will be a negative factor on the team. He’s never played in the NBA and has no idea how the officials call plays so that is something no one can fault him for. He also hasn’t played against hardly anyone in the NBA, so getting adjusted to playing styles and tendencies is something he’s going to have to learn.
He’s could be a very talented player down the road so don’t get me wrong when I point out that he hasn’t quite impressed me yet. He has shown that he knows the game very well as he has done well with passing the ball around and getting his teammates involved. He’s not out there to produce huge numbers or put up a lot of points, his role is solely to play good strong defense and that is a stat that doesn’t often show up on the stat sheet. Do I think he’ll be an all-star, probably not, but for this team, he will be a solid role player and will definitely clog up the middle when the other three centers aren’t in the game.