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Aussies in NBA: Aron Baynes impresses in Celtics debut
Aron Baynes looks like he's exactly what the Boston Celtics needed.
In his debut performance in green against the Charlotte Hornets, Baynes showed the exact qualities that make him a valuable resource to the Celtics: rebounding, rim protection, and effective scoring, even if it's not coming from the three-point line.
Baynes was a starter in today's preseason game. Playing 18 minutes, he recorded 10 points, 5 rebounds (2 offensive), 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block in the Celtics' 94-82 win (box score).
He was also the recipient of this season's first Tommy Award. Named after Celtics legend and colour commentator Tommy Heinsohn, "Tommy points" are typically given by Heinsohn in-game for displays of hustle, effort and the will to make winning plays. (Sounds very Australian, if you ask me.)
After the game, Baynes talked about how refreshing it was to make physical plays against a real opponent at last (link), especially against Dwight Howard, who got whistled for an offensive foul while being guarded by Baynes.
"I mean, it's fun," Baynes said. "Everyone's in preseason getting used to it again so we've been hitting our teammates for so long that it's fun to get out there and hit someone else's teammates. So it's all good."
Baynes certainly adds a level of mental toughness to his new team.
Celtics head coach, Brad Stevens was complimentary of Baynes' effect on both ends of the floor.
"If you look at statistically, when he challenges shots vertically at the rim he's really, really good," Stevens said.
"He's hard to score on. He's a big strong guy now, and he is very capable shooting the ball as well. So his ability to knock down 15-17 footers off of those little pick-and-pops I thought was good for us, especially in that first 24 minutes when we were struggling for the ball to go in the basket."
It's still early, but Baynes could prove to be a potent option off the pick and roll for the Celtics, both as a shooter and as a roller towards the rim.
Baynes however, made headlines for another reason, after Heinsohn shared his observations of Baynes in the shower.
Quoted: “I took a look at Baynes in the shower. He looks like all of Australia... he is really put together.”
Those reading it on the straight and narrow will read it as admiration of Baynesy's imposing physique. The more imaginative could choose to read between the lines, and get creative on what they thought Heinsohn meant.