Photo: Sports Spectrum
By: Patrick Whalen
2018-19 Report Card:
On the latest edition of Report Cards, we’re talking about a member of the most jacked lineup in the NBA Semi Ojeleye. Ojeleye entered his second NBA season last year with the Celtics, the former second-round pick had to step up in his first season like many of the younger players did with the injuries to Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving. Ojeleye was a key piece off the bench for the Celtics during the season as a 3 and D threat as his size and length make him an excellent defender. He showed off his great defense on the national stage during the 2017-18 playoff series against the Bucks as Brad Stevens trusted the rookie enough to start him the last 3 games of the series and make him the primary defender of Giannis.
But in season two with the return of Gordon and Kyrie, Semi saw his usage rate drop from 73 games with 15.8 MPG to 56 games and only 10.6 MPG. Now, this wasn’t because Semi became a lesser player, he just happens to play at the deepest position on the Celtics roster last year. But we did see some improvements in year two from Semi. His overall shooting percentage jumped from 34.6% to 42.4%, his true shooting percentage jumped from 47.3% to 53.1% and his PPG rose from 2.7 to 3.3 despite his minutes drop. Semi also saw his first NBA regular-season start as he started 3 games for the Celtics this past season during the early part of the seasons when they were still dealing with injuries. Sadly though Semi never could really find a groove in the rotation as he was a healthy DNP for 26 games this past season.
This year was a growth year for Semi from a mental standpoint as he was able to watch and learn from guys like Gordon Hayward, Marcus Morris Sr and fellow second-year player Jayson Tatum. Semi was also able to add onto his playoff experience for his young career as he has now appeared in 23 of a possible 28 playoff games through his first two seasons. So with all that considered I’m giving Semi a B- for the 2018-19 season. He was still the great and versatile defender that we all know he is and he was able to up his shooting numbers despite his usage drop.
Final Grade: B-
For this upcoming season, I believe Semi’s usage will increase significantly especially early on in the year as he is now one of the older players coming off the bench for the Celtics as they’ll now have potentially 4 or 5 NBA rookies on the active roster. Brad Stevens will have to rely on Semi to play more minutes, especially when the Celtics need a stop on the defensive end. Plus, if Semi can improve his three-point shot and become more of a perimeter threat offensively then that should just improve his chances of getting more consistent minutes. Semi, Marcus Smart and Daniel Theis will have to take larger responsibilities and leadership roles off the bench with all rookies and second-year player Robert Williams making up the bulk of the bench unit. Ojeleye should finally be able to find a consist rhythm this year and have his most productive season yet in the NBA and show the potential that the scouts saw in him at SMU.
Predictions for 2019-20:
Games: 75 Starts: 10 MPG: 17.3 FG%: 43.6% 3P%: 34.2% RPG: 2.7 PPG: 5.4
Now, let’s take a look back at some of the great plays Semi made this past season.
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