Yabusele Eager to Earn Role for Banged-Up Celtics

addByline("Taylor Snow", "Celtics.com", "taylorcsnow");

ORLANDO – Guerschon Yabusele's rookie season can best be described as "unpredictable."

Over the past three and a half months, the 22-year-old France native has had to pack his bags a total of 18 times, making nine trips to Portland, Maine to play for the Red Claws of the G-League, and nine trips to Boston to suit up for the Celtics. His up-in-the-air lifestyle has not been ideal, but he has remained upbeat throughout it all, knowing that opportunities at the NBA level can arise at any moment.

Take this week for example: On Monday, Yabusele was with the Red Claws in Newark, Delaware preparing for a game against the Deleware 87ers, when he suddenly got called up to the C's to help fill in for Daniel Theis, who had just suffered a season-ending meniscus tear. Yabusele flew up to Boston that afternoon, and two nights later he was on TD Garden's parquet floor for tip-off against the Washington Wizards, making the first start of his NBA career.

"It was pretty amazing," Yabusele said Friday morning, still digesting the whirlwind experience as he dressed for Celtics shootaround in Orlando. "A couple of days ago I was in the G-League. And then I flew back home and found out that I was starting in the game. It was just an amazing feeling and I was so happy about it."

The 6-foot-8 power forward added that he was, "ready for the call. I was practicing a lot over there (with the Red Claws), working on my game and trying to be ready for when they were going to call me."

That's exactly the type of attitude a player in Yabusele's position should have. Sure enough, his preparedness paid off. He played a career-high 18 minutes against the Wizards, notching four points, three rebounds and five assists, as the shorthanded C's fell 125-124 in double-overtime.

The career-high assist total was the most intriguing aspect of Yabusele's game, considering that is exactly the area that C's coach Brad Stevens told reporters to keep an eye on before the regular season began.

"He's got to be a guy that can be a playmaker á la Al (Horford) for us, where he gets the ball at the top of the key and he can be a passer, he can shoot it, or he can drive it," Stevens had said back on Oct. 6 prior to a preseason matchup in Philadelphia. "I think his greatest strength is seeing the floor and passing the ball. And sometimes at this age and stage, when you're first starting in an NBA season for the first time, the game is moving so fast that you miss some of those opportunities, and as he continues to get more opportunities and practice more, then I think that'll just show itself."

Wednesday night's effort was certainly not a missed opportunity for Yabusele, as he put forth just the type of effort that Stevens was looking for.

"I thought he was solid," Stevens said after the game. "He didn't try to do too much and was pretty active. He moved the ball around nice, which is what his strength is. He did a pretty good job guarding Markieff when he was matched up with him, which is a hard matchup. I thought he was good tonight."

Horford, who was stayed home sick Wednesday night, thought that Yabusele did a fine job of filling in for his playmaking role.

"Guersch, he has that ability," said Horford, who was feeling better Friday morning and plans to be back in the lineup Friday night against the Magic. "For him, it's just experience, so the more that he gets to play, the more he'll be able to showcase that. And, he can really score the ball too, so I think it's just identifying the balance of when to score and when to pass. But he has that ability, no question."

Ultimately, Yabusele hopes that his playmaking skills, along with his other assets, can help him remain with the big club for a while.

"I just want to bring energy and intensity on the court," said Yabusele, who has played 23 games for the Celtics this season, as well as 14 games for the Red Claws. "I can bring rebounding, defense, and I just want to help the team win some games."

It's very likely that Yabusele's wish could come true during the coming weeks, considering the plethora of injuries that the Celtics are currently dealing with. Boston's lack of available bodies should mean more consistent minutes for the eager youngster, which is great news for him, having lived such an unpredictable lifestyle during the first chunk of his rookie campaign.