Celtics’ Phil Pressey Aims To Apply Lessons Learned From Rookie Season

Phil Pressey, Devin HarrisWATERTOWN, Mass. — The season ended barely two weeks ago, and Phil Pressey already is eager to get back on the court.

Fresh off his rookie campaign with the Boston Celtics, Pressey was back in the area Friday for a community event at the Boys and Girls Club. The 23-year-old point guard took a brief break following the end of the Celtics’ season on April 15, visiting family and resting his body after the longest season of his life.

After one last weekend of relaxation, though, Pressey will be back in the gym next week — and he is well aware of the area of his game that needs the most improvement.

“I have to learn to make my shots when they come to me, and just keep working,” Pressey said. “It’s tough for me. It’s tough for a lot of guys when you’re coming out of college where you’re playing all the time, but it’s not how it’s going to be (in the NBA). You’ve got to go out and do your job, whether it’s five minutes or 30 minutes.”

Pressey boasted an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly three-to-one last season, but he shot just 30.8 percent from the field and 26.4 percent from three. He improved later in the season, when injuries mounted in Boston’s backcourt and playing time became easier to come by, shooting 34 percent after the All-Star break, compared to just 29 percent before it.

“Just continue to work on it, work on game-like shots that I’m going to see next year,” Pressey said. “I really feel like I started shooting the ball toward the end of the year, once I started playing more, so it’s just a confidence factor with me. I know I can make that shot. It’s just knowing when to take it. I just know I can hit it. It started going down for me the second part of the year, so I’ve just got to keep going.”

Still, 34 percent isn’t quite enough to keep defenses honest. Until his shooting improves, Pressey will struggle to crack an NBA rotation as a true No. 2 point guard on a team in less flux than the Celtics were this season.

Pressey is a Celtics player at the moment, however, and that was all that mattered to the children gathered to meet him and make fruit arrangements Friday. Despite being the son of a former NBA player, Pressey never met many professional basketball players as a kid. (His father, Paul Pressey, retired when Phil was 2.) He relishes the opportunity to give kids an experience he never had.

“It’s always positive when myself or other Celtics players can come out and show the kids some motivation to keep doing what they’re doing,” Pressey said. “When I was their age, I looked up to guys like myself, so it’s just a positive thing to come here and show my face and just give them some words of encouragement.”

Pressey might appreciate giving back, but autographs and fruit bouquets are the easy part of the job. Now he is ready to get back to work.

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