Celtics Rookie James Young Finds Role Model In Teammate Jeff Green

james youngWALTHAM, Mass. — Being a rookie isn’t easy.

For someone like James Young, who’s just a month removed from his 19th birthday and preparing to compete against guys a decade his senior, it’s even more difficult.

Young was the fourth-youngest player selected in the 2014 NBA draft — the Boston Celtics grabbed him at No. 17 overall — and entered Celtics training camp this week as the youngest player on the squad.

Receiving the guidance of a veteran can be crucial to a young player’s development, and Young says he’s found a role model in Celtics forward Jeff Green.

“It’s great,” the Kentucky product said Tuesday between two-a-day sessions at Celtics camp. “I looked up to him (before being drafted). I get a lot of advice from him. He helps me out a lot. I just follow his every move and try to be like him.”

Young comes in with the added disadvantage of having not fully participated in the team’s offseason program, as a neck injury suffered in a car accident forced him to miss the Orlando summer league. As a result, fellow rookie Marcus Smart enters camp with the more in-game experience of the two, but Young is confident that he is up to speed.

“Not really,” he said when asked if he feels like he’s still playing catch-up. “When I came back, I kind of picked up everything visually — I’m a visual learner. When they were doing stuff during summer league, I kind of picked up like that, and as soon as I got back, I kind of found the flow of things. So, I’m right where everyone else is.”

Regardless of his preparation, it likely will take Young a little while to acclimate to the speed and physicality of an NBA game. He is, after all, less than two years removed from his high school graduation, having played one season at Kentucky before jumping to the pros.

Young will try to ease that learning curve by following in the footsteps of Green, who is entering his seventh NBA season and fourth with the Celtics. The young swingman’s desire to emulate Green also suggests that head coach Brad Stevens could be looking to play him more at Green’s position, small forward, than at shooting guard, which would made sense given Boston’s preponderance of backcourt players.

So, what has Young learned from his elder so far?

“Just don’t take any plays off,” he said. “Focus on everything. You can’t relax on any possession. And really just stay focused through the whole thing.”

Photo via David Butler II/USA TODAY Sports Images

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