Luke Harangody had a great game today.
In fact it was a day that in years to come may (and I stress may) define the beginning of an NBA career and longer term Celtic affiliation. The rookie who wears no. 55 had a career game today vs the Toronto Raptors, with an impressive 17 point, 11 rebound 1 assist and 2 block stat line as Boston prevailed 102 - 122 at home (his previous high was 4 pts). It was also a night in which the Celtics amassed 3,000 wins in font of a home crowd enjoying seeing Harangody make his first significant contribution as an NBA player. From all reports chants of ‘LUUUUKE!!’ erupted from the TD Banknorth crowd during the course of the game.
This is important to me as a fan, to see the potential beginnings of another Celtic rookie strengthening an already talent laden but injured team especially at the 4 and 5 spots. Of course we have seen an initial and sudden flourish of a celtic NBA rookie before from players like Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis, with contributions becoming more frequent as the player learns to adjust to the steep learning curve of the NBA and eventually becoming part of the unit. We also remember Gabe Pruitt and Bill Walker. A long stint in D-league or a trade can just as easily be on the cards for a rookie.
I have had my eye on this player because after watching post draft footage on you tube and summer league games highlights, it appeared the C’s had got a bargain in the 2nd round of the 2010 draft;
“Luke Harangody is a solid Power Forward, a player with a reputation as a fierce competitor and low post work horse. Playing for Notre Dame in the highly competitive 'Big East', Harangody was the go to option for the 'fighting Irish' and thrived playing some the best players of the 2010 draft class this past college season. With numbers like 21.8 ppg and 11.4 rpg averaged over his last three seasons at ND, he was a steal at 52 outweighing any misgivings other NBA teams may have had about his abilities or potential.” (25th June 2010, draft review)
and then not long after...
“Speaking of rooks, Harangody really stood out in Orlando, playing an under talented and some times under maned SL roster (playing their last game losing to the Nets, with 7 players?!). Luke show cased a solid 3 pt shot, great rebounding and great intensity and aggression. Plus he has the weirdest shooting style I have seen in a while.” (from july 14th 2010)
It is clear that this kid loves to scrap and fight for whatever he can get on the court, not for himself but his team. Doc Rivers also gave genuine props to his player for his explosive and hard fought effort;
"He was great. He was phenomenal," Rivers said. "He'll make mistakes because he's young. He'll make mistakes because he's going too fast. He'll never make mistakes because he's not playing hard...I just thought his energy was fantastic," Rivers said. "When he slows down, he can make shots. He's an uncanny rebounder for his size." ESPN game recap
Perhaps it is Haragody’s unconventional shot, tenacious attitude and flat out knack for boards (Kevin Love, any one?), but this rookie had his day, just like Davis had his first good game. Just like Rondo showed us the first flash of brilliance. Yes, a lot has to happen and some time has to pass before he becomes a certified Celtic mainstay. But it was his comment after the game that really made me think that No. 55 could have a home here in years to come;
"On this team, you have to take a look around the locker room and realize who's around," Harangody said, understanding his limited playing time. "This was just one game. Nothing has changed. My role is always defensive and get a rebound."
ESPN game recap
That is someone with their head screwed on straight, knowing at this point in your development on a talented team, you have to take advantage of an opening in a context that very much dictates it’s terms to you. Knowing your role, embracing the limitations of the role as it is offered and play like you are so damn hungry when ever you get a chance. If you keep this attitude there is a good chance your team will want to keep you around.
The big three are in their last years, to look ahead and say ‘let’s consolidate the future later’ is crazy when you have pieces already taking shape. The future of this club is not an aging core of future hall of famers, but a Rondo / Bradley / Davis / Erden and Harangody line up. This unit might do alright as a combo to put on the floor in blow outs and garbage time this year, but keep them together for 3 even five years and see what happens.
Green and White for life.