BOSTON -- Less than 24 hours after Boston Celtics point guard Isaiah Thomas was voted into his first All-Star appearance, the Celtics learned they will have another member of the team present in Toronto. Rookie second-round pick Jordan Mickey will head north to participate in the NBA Development League All-Star game as part of the weekend's festivities.
The 6-foot-8 Mickey, snagged with the 33rd pick in June's draft, has spent most of his rookie season with the Red Claws but has distinguished himself in the minor leagues. Appearing in 21 games for Maine, Mickey is averaging 17.1 points, 10.4 rebounds and a league-best 4.6 blocks per game. He is the 13th player in Maine history to land the All-Star honor.
The D-League player of the month for December, Mickey has been slowed recently by a high ankle sprain. He's hopeful that, if he progresses well enough before the All-Star break, the team will allow him to participate in the game.
The honor gave Celtics coach Brad Stevens a chance to heap more public praise on the rookie.
"I think really highly of Jordan," Stevens said of Boston's third selection in this year's draft. "I was disappointed that he came down with the ankle sprain because I think he’s got a lot of good things going for him and has been really consistent up [in Maine] every single night. I think the biggest thing about Jordan that you’ll all see more of down the road is he is a consistent personality. He works the same way and he doesn’t change his demeanor. He’s going to play the same way in Sioux Falls in a D-League as he will when he gets his opportunity in the NBA."
Stevens has admitted to being intrigued by Mickey's play, but an overcrowded frontcourt has left the 21-year-old big man with a crowded path to NBA playing time. Mickey seems to understand his situation and, unlike some young players who struggle to embrace the opportunity the D-League affords, has embraced the chance to develop and showcase his talents.
"Coming in, I figured I wasn’t going to get a lot of playing time, and I was going to have to go into the D-League and work anyways," said Mickey. "Hard work is nothing new to me. I’ll go work to get better, listen to what the coaches tell me [in Boston], and implement it [in Maine]."
Mickey, understandably, is likewise curious how his play will translate at the NBA level.
"I have curiosity," said Mickey. "Waiting for my time, looking forward to my chance, being patient. The team is playing great right now and I just want to see it succeed."
Mickey has played only six totals minutes in three appearances for Boston (though his Player Efficiency Rating for that tiny sample is off the charts at 67.9; for comparison, even Thomas is only at 21.7 and the league average is 15). While rehabbing his injury, Mickey has been around the Celtics lately but hopes to resume basketball activities soon.
"I’m not allowed to get into any contact right now -- just spot shooting, dribbling, very limited cutting and going back and forth with the ankle right now," said Mickey. "They monitor day to day to see how it’s doing."
Mickey will have at least one noteworthy fan in the crowd when he plays in the D-League All-Star game. Thomas said he planned to check out Mickey play as part of the weekend festivities.
Said Thomas: "Got to keep it in the family."