Celtics introduce rookies to history

Chris Forsberg/ESPN

WALTHAM, Mass. -- The Boston Celtics' four draft picks had just gone through the introduction wringer -- posing with their new jerseys, answering questions about how excited they are to be in Boston and shuttling around to a variety of local media to answer the same batch of questions a second (or third) time -- when an unexpected visitor dropped by with a friendly reminder.

Celtics legend John Havlicek drew a crowd before he even reached the bottom of the staircase leading from the team's offices above the court. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge quickly herded together all of the rookies -- first-round picks Terry Rozier (16th overall) and R.J. Hunter (28) and second-rounders Jordan Mickey (33) and Marcus Thornton (45) -- and it was determined a photo was necessary.

Clutching their green Celtics jerseys, the rookies smiled wide around Hondo in the middle. The eight-time NBA champion then pointed toward the ceiling of the training facility, where 17 title banners hang. "I think he's pointing at [Havlicek's retired] No. 17," Ainge joked.

The franchise's history of success wasn't lost on the new Celtics.

"It’s a dream come true to be drafted, and even bigger dream being drafted by the Boston Celtics with a great winning tradition," Mickey said earlier at the podium.

Echoed Rozier: "I’m just excited to come into a team that has a great franchise with 17 titles."

But the four players also were reminded often Tuesday that they must earn their playing time, a process that starts Wednesday when summer league two-a-day practice sessions begin.

"I always say it’s a player’s job to prove to the coach that he needs you," Ainge said. "And young players always start out at a disadvantage. They have to beat our veterans, typically, for playing time and opportunities. But it’s each one of these guys’ job to prove that [head coach] Brad [Stevens] needs them. And their play this summer, it begins there, and their work leading up to the season and training camp, everything they do will be noted, their work ethic and their character and their performance."

Here's a rundown on everything you need to know from Tuesday's introductions:

Rosy Rozier: Rozier, looking very much the part of the team's top draft pick in a navy blue suit highlighted by an orange floral lapel pin and matching pocket square -- along with designer glasses that Ainge playfully questioned whether they were prescription -- is going to win over fans quickly. Very much like last year's top draft pick, Marcus Smart, Rozier comes from a tough background but brings a certain grit and determination to the floor.

When asked what would set him apart on Boston's crowded guard depth chart, Rozier answered, "I’d just say a winner’s mentality. I’m not so worried about how many guards we’ve got. I’m just worried about how I can come in and fit for this team, fit for this league and help my team improve. That’s what I’m more worried about. How can I help this team?"

Stevens (finally) gets his guy: Stevens was an assistant at Butler University when Hunter's father, Ron, was head coach at nearby IUPUI. Stevens has joked that he used to try to recruit Hunter and, all these years later, he finally got him.

"I saw [Hunter's parents] Amy and Ron here earlier and I just told them when R.J. was coming up, if you get sick of your dad, call me. So he finally did," Stevens joked. "After three years, he decided to go to the NBA, right, Ron?"

Hunter is clearly a coach's son and was perfectly comfortable in his first NBA media access. A reporter asked each of Boston's rookies if they had any ties with players on the current roster and, after Mickey and Rozier had detailed some connections, Hunter slowly leaned into his mic and deadpanned, "Ummm, no."

Sounding like a broken record: Ainge playfully dubbed the team's final pick "Marcus Thornton 2.0" after carrying his more veteran namesake on the roster last season. This Thornton is likely to spend next season as an overseas stash or in the D-League, but that doesn't mean the team doesn't think he's capable of contributing down the road.

“I really liked his explosiveness and shooting ability," Ainge said. "[Thornton] broke our record for draft workout star shooting drill -- for those of you who care about that stuff. It proved to us that he’s a pretty good shooter, a very good shooter, and we’re excited about Marcus’ future with us. Marcus will most likely be on a roster in the D-League or Europe this year, but nevertheless we think that he has a bright future as a Boston Celtic."

Hey, Mickey! Jordan Mickey led the nation in blocked shots last season and the Celtics view him as an undersized big man who could have the ability to switch onto various bigs. Mickey referenced how the NBA champion Golden State Warriors often went with small lineups and had no one on the court over 6-foot-8 at times.

When asked what drew Boston to him, Mickey said, “I feel just my defensive presence. Definitely. I’m a player who starts with defense first. ... I led the country in blocked shots this year, led my conference in rebounding. So I think it’s rare to find a guy who prides himself on defense. I believe that’s what kind of set me apart from most of those guys."

Ainge's scouting report: Here's a concise breakdown on what each of Boston's picks brings to the team from the man in charge of drafting them.

"I think Terry Rozier is a tremendous competitor. He’s in the level of the Delonte [Wests], Tony Allens, Avery Bradleys, that level of competitor and athlete," Ainge said. "Those are the things that we we like about him. His character and work ethic -- we’re not too worried about him.

"R.J. has a great feel. He’s a terrific shooter. He can shoot from anywhere in the gym and he can run pick-and-rolls, which is a big part of basketball nowadays. He’s long, he can really pass the ball and he’s a really skilled player.

"Then you have Jordan, who is a shot-blocker and is an athlete, that we desperately need on the frontcourt. He was the best athlete there. Very long and athletic. He can switch and it’s a big thing having big guys that can protect the rim and switch and guard perimeter guys, and we think that Jordan can be one of those guys

"Then Marcus is another jet -- he’s a lightning-fast kid who can make shots. But there’s different things that we see in all of them. Ultimately, they have to do be able to do it against the best players in the world. And we have some of the best players in the world on our team right now that they have to earn time over. So that’s going to be a challenge for them as well."