WALTHAM, Mass. — For the next two weeks, Phil Pressey will be the rare player who is simultaneously a grizzled veteran and still wet behind the ears.
The second-year point guard is back for another round in the 2014 Orlando Pro Summer League after impressing with the Boston Celtics’ entry last year. At the ripe old age of 23, Pressey is tasked with showing the ropes to an even greener group of players while continuing to carve out his own niche.
That’s an advantage Pressey didn’t enjoy himself last summer.
“When you’re all coming in and the game’s going 1,000 miles an hour, nobody really knows anything about the NBA game, it’s tough,” Pressey said Tuesday. “Now that we have about four or five guys that have played in the NBA, that’s going to help us out tremendously, because guys can talk to guys who haven’t been in this situation and we can really help each other out.”
Five players on the summer league roster — Pressey, Kelly Olynyk, Chris Babb, Chris Johnson and Colton Iverson — were with the Celtics at some point last season. All except Johnson were on the summer league squad.
Olynyk had a standout summer league and a promising rookie season, so the next week or so will be old hat for the 23-year-old forward. He plans to tell new players like Marcus Smart that some nerves are to be expected, but that he will quickly settle into playing the game he’s loved since he was a kid.
Olynyk did admit it feels somewhat strange to be looked up to as a de facto captain despite having just wrapped up his first year as a pro.
“You’re still fairly new, but to those guys, you’re a veteran,” Olynyk said. “You’re the oldest guy here, with the most experience. I mean, guys only play summer league two or three years, right? When you come in as a rookie, you’re introduced to summer league, and now this is kind of like your first year as a vet. It’s kind of like vet training, really.”
The Celtics have a lot invested in Smart, the No. 6 overall pick, either as the heir to Rajon Rondo or as a trade chip. Yet Pressey wasted little time taking the rookie under his wing. In their first practice together Tuesday, Pressey instructed Smart how to wait for the big man to set a screen on the pick-and-roll to avoid forcing his teammate into a moving screen violation.
There is only so much the established players can impart in drills, however. Only experience and time will acclimate a player to a real NBA pace. That’s what summer league is for.
“You can tell them it’s faster, guys are quicker, more athletic,” Olynyk said. “You can tell them and tell them and tell them, but until you get out there and they experience it, you don’t know how much faster, how much stronger, how much quicker it is.
“You can warn them, but it’s one of those things where you’ve just got to let them go, like little kids. Release them from the nest.”