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Boston Celtics rookie forward Daniel Theis was a standout player during his team’s 94-82 preseason victory over the Charlotte Hornets.
Theis hit the ground running from the moment he stepped on the parquet floor with under two-minutes remaining in the third quarter. On his very first play as a Celtic the 6-foot-9 big man perfectly executed a pick-and-roll play with guard Shane Larkin which Theis finished off with a two-handed jam.
Boston’s oldest rookie at 25-years old wasn’t done making poster worthy plays there either. Just over a minute later Theis crashed the boards and hammered home a put-back slam with 3.3 seconds remaining in the third.
Over 13 minutes of action Theis recorded 12 points on 5-8 shooting, including a one-one mark from three point range. Theis also grabbed a team high seven rebounds while chipping in three assists, one block, and one steal with no turnovers.
“I thought he did really good,” said Celtics’ head coach Brad Stevens per Tom Westerholm of MassLive.com. “He was quick to the rim, and we needed that. Getting behind on rolls, got his hands on a couple of balls and kept them alive, had the tip dunk at the end of the quarter of off the roll, and that’s what he does best. He can shoot the ball, he can play in space, but he’s very quick to the rim.”
Boston may have found their Kelly Olynyk replacement in Theis, perhaps even an upgrade. Though one preseason game is a small sample size, Theis certainly seems to be more skilled defensively and play an overall more aggressive game than Olynyk. Theis looks much quicker laterally, allowing him to effectively guard quicker players like Jeremy Lamb, something Boston never could have expected to Olynyk. Theis also flashed an ability to attack the rim and relentlessly pursue rebounds (two more things Olynyk was not known for), while still being able to stretch the floor with his outside shooting touch.
“I think I just tried to really play some defense and bring some energy when I came on the court, and I just tried not to be nervous and just enjoy,” Theis told Westerholm. “Have fun. That’s what I did.”
Theis became the first German born player to sign with Boston back in July after putting together a solid professional basketball career in his home country dating back to 2009. The Saltzgitter, Germany native averaged 9.5 points, 5.6 rebounds and 1.24 blocks and 18.9 minutes in 41 games for Brose Bamberg of the Basketball Bundesliga League (BBL) during the 2016-2017 season. Theis was also named the league’s Defensive Player of the Year that season and leaves his overseas career with three BBL All-Star nods.