Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Daniel Theis Impresses in Preseason Debut

Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Excitement swirled around the debuts of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and the new-look Boston Celtics on Monday as they defeated the Charlotte Hornets 94-82. Boston's starting lineup demonstrated terrific offensive potential, as Irving skillfully penetrated the lane, created scoring opportunities for teammates, and even threw down a dunk.

Aron Baynes drew the start alongside Al Horford in the frontcourt because of Marcus Morris’ ongoing legal case. The 6’10’’ Australian center made his presence felt with two offensive rebounds and a reliable midrange jumper that gradually drew Charlotte’s big men away from the paint. Baynes tallied 10 points and five boards in 18 minutes. He and Horford, two skilled shooting big men, opened up the floor for Irving and the other Celtics to operate near the hoop.


But while the basketball world was enamored with Boston’s new starting lineup, it was an unknown rookie off their bench that arguably had the biggest overall impact on the game.

Daniel Theis, the 25-year-old German forward who was quietly signed by the Celtics back in July, seized his first taste of NBA preseason action with terrific production, remarkable confidence, and fiery play. In 14 minutes, he quickly racked up 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists, one block, and one steal.

Playing alongside other international recruits and rookies, the 6'9'' Theis commanded a leadership role by frequently directing teammates and constantly staying active on offense to help space the floor while creating opportunities for offensive rebounds and second chance points.

Theis provided a glimpse of his potential, as well as a reminder that he led Brose Bamberg to three consecutive German League Championships over the last three years. He was named the league’s Best Defender last season and its Most Effective Player the year before that.

AP Photo/Steven Senne
Unlike many European big men who struggle with the transition from international leagues, Theis appears both mentally and physically ready to embrace the challenges of a faster paced game with rugged battles in the paint against seasoned veterans.

Jonas Jerebko played a valuable role for the Celtics over the past three seasons with energy, physicality, dedication, and a high basketball IQ. Theis appears to bring all those things, but in a younger and more athletic body with an ability to either shoot from deep or slam down tip-in dunks and alley-oops.

Theis has seemingly modeled aspects of his game to those of another great German basketball player. Dirk Nowitzki once utilized his unique blend of height, sharpshooting, and physicality to help usher in a new era of the NBA.

While Theis may not score as prolifically as his future Hall of Fame counterpart, he will do his best impression while providing terrific energy and some unexpected leadership for the young Celtics bench.


Boston appears poised for a great season. The additions of Irving and Hayward alongside Horford in the starting lineup make the Celtics incredibly difficult to defend, especially when role players like Theis and Baynes are knocking down open shots.

The Celtics needed frontcourt reinforcements after losing Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk in the offseason. Theis will still need to build on this performance in order to earn consistent minutes, but so far it appears that he and Baynes are ready to step into critical roles as two of Boston's best new big men.

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