An underrated addition to the Boston Celtics roster may be 2014 NBA lottery pick Noah Vonleh, who is not only making a case for a roster spot but showing he can be a viable backup option in the front court while Robert Williams is out and perhaps even when he is back.
Selected at the ninth overall pick in that 2014 NBA Draft by the Charlotte Hornets, Vonleh has not lived up to expectations during his seven seasons in the NBA. In fact, he has become a journey man with the Celtics potentially becoming his eighth NBA team.
So, has he finally found his niche in the NBA on a team looking for some front court depth behind Al Horford, Grant Williams, Blake Griffin and Luke Kornet? Through the first three games of the preseason, Vonleh has certainly stood out as a player making a case for a roster spot.
Noah Vonleh adds versatility and depth to the Boston Celtics front court rotation
At 6-foot-10 and 257 pounds, he has the size and has shown an ability to knock down an outside shot. In the team’s 112-103 win over the Hornets, Vonleh made the most of his opportunity with 14 points on 6-for-8 shooting and grabbing 13 rebounds.
It’s just the preseason but given the role Vonleh will take on if he makes the 2022-23 squad, it looks as though he may have finally found his niche on an NBA team, an NBA team primed to make a run at an NBA championship. An opportunity he is obviously has him excited.
"“This is a great opportunity,” Vonleh said, via CLNS. “I got the call in early August from the front office, and they talked about a potential chance to make the roster.“I was very excited, especially as a hometown kid from the area.”"
Growing up in Haverhill, Massachusetts, Vonleh’s name did come up as a potential Boston Celtics prospect back in that 2014 NBA Draft. Of course, with the No. 6 pick in that draft, the Celtics selected Marcus Smart which turned out quite well for the team. In fact, imagine if they do end up with the No. 6 and No. 9 pick of that draft making viable contributions on a championship team.
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Of course, Vonleh will have to make the team first and with the recent praise from Celtics interim head coach Joe Mazzulla, it looks like he has won the team over with his preseason performance.
"“I think he’s great. He understands the game, screens well, fits into our defensive identity,” Mazzulla told reporters, via Gary Washburn. “Very happy with the way he played. He did some good things for us.”"
Again, without Robert Williams through the first part of the 2022-23 NBA season, the Boston Celtics will need to find ways to fill the void left by the talented big man mostly defensively and on the board. Noah Vonleh has shown to be an option to spell an older player like Horford and give the team some serviceable minutes if the veteran big man or Grant Williams get into foul trouble.
While not noted as an exciting signing by Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens, Vonleh could turn out to be one of those sneaky depth signings that turn into gold for a team striving to win Banner 18.