Brad Wanamaker logged a season-high 21 minutes last night in a win at home and gave the Celtics a lift off of the bench with so many injuries plaguing them. He finished the game with 8 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals on 3-6 shooting from the floor on 2-2 from deep.
The 29 year old rookie has slid into the Shane Larkin role from last year serving as the team’s 3rd/4th point guard off of the bench. We haven’t seen much of him through the first half of the year as the Celtics have so much depth this season. He hasn’t gotten many opportunities and has only appeared in 15 games. Last night though, Coach Stevens called his number and he didn’t let the it slip away. He said postgame that when Stevens called his name so early all he could say was “What?”, he couldn’t believe it. He gave the Celtics exactly what they needed and early on in his minutes he made a difference. Immediately upon entrance he hit a 26 footer and then drilled another one before the end of the quarter to help the Celtics build their lead.
Wanamaker has had a long and winding road to The Association that started out in 2007 at Pittsburgh. He spent 4 years there and started all 34 games his Junior and Senior year.
While his numbers were solid, he went undrafted and continued his basketball career overseas in a few different leagues out in Europe. Maybe the NBA wasn’t for him in the end, but he kept on grinding and was one of the better players in the EuroLeague.
He caught the eye of Danny Ainge and on June 25th the Celtics and Wanamaker agreed to a one year deal worth about $800,000. There was more money overseas for him, but he didn’t care, all he wanted was a shot at the league and he finally had it. He’s came in every single day, worked hard, and waited for his opportunity like a true professional. Being on the end of an NBA bench is a tough gig since you never know when you’re number’s going to be called, and as cliche as it sounds, it’s true. It’s one of the hardest things in sports to come off of the bench after sitting for a substantial amount of games/time and still be productive right away. Wanamaker was ready and I hope to see him earn some more run as I like what he provides. He’s a spitfire who isn’t afraid of the moment and I’m impressed with how he handles himself. It isn’t an easy life scraping for minutes but he’s made the most of it and gives the Celtics some versatility with his scoring/ball-handling ability.
Stevens raved about Wanamaker’s poise and professionalism postgame saying how happy he was for him that he was able to contribute. Wanamaker turned down a lot of money overseas to chase his dream of being in the NBA and it’s such a good story to see him capitalize on some extended run. Fingers crossed that this is a sign of things to come from one of the oldest rookies in NBA history.
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