It’s not often a 25-year-old is among the veteran leaders of an NBA locker room, but Celtics guard Shane Larkin appears to be relishing his role as a veteran presence and mentor to the team’s younger players.
“I just try to give my wisdom whether it’s to a guy who’s playing 25 minutes or a guy that’s sitting on the bench,” Larkin said prior to Monday’s head-to-head with the Pistons. “I just try to provide some veteran leadership since I’ve been a pro now for five years.”
A whopping nine current Celtics have spent less time in the NBA than Larkin. And though his numbers are modest — Larkin has averaged just 2.5 points, 1.2 assists in 9.6 minutes per game — Larkin has stepped in and taken on important roles. In the first C’s win of the season, Larkin scored 10 points and added four assists in 19 minutes of play. He’s also had a 16-point game in the early going, and provided a solid boost when franchise cornerstone Kyrie Irving was knocked out of a Friday night game against the Hornets in the opening minutes of action earlier this season.
Larkin said his preparation does not change whether he thinks he will play significant minutes or not on any given night.
“I try to go into every game with the mindset that if I get in there, I gotta go do my job,” Larkin said. “I’ve been a sparkplug that goes out there and whether I’m out there five minutes, 10 minutes or 30 minutes I just try to provide a spark and change the tempo of the game.”
Celtics head coach Brad Stevens said bench scoring from the likes of Larkin and other deeper rotation players is pivotal.
“We’ve had a lot of depth here the last few years,” Stevens said. “We’ve counted on our bench to be good and they have been.”
Suiting up for the Mavericks, Knicks and Nets before Boston, Larkin’s most important NBA bench roles came with the New York squads, and played in Spain last season for Laboral Kutxa Baskonia. Larkin said after the Celtics broke their 16-game winning streak at Miami, the team morale remained positive, something he was not used to.
“Obviously you never want to lose, but our spirits were still high because we fought and played the way we wanted to play. We just didn’t win that game.”
“I’ve been on teams where we’ve lost eight, nine, 10 games in a row and now to be on a team where we won 16 straight gives a different feel to the locker room,” Larkin added.
Stevens said Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart’s roles are solidified in the rotation, but it could be the likes of Larkin among many other bench players who can provide the Celtics with a much needed boost on any given night.
“Every team’s a little different but you need to have guys to come off the bench and make plays,” Stevens said. “Guys that come in and you know what you’re getting on a night-to-night basis.
“The good news is for us thus far, it’s been a lot of different eighth and ninth guys.”
Larkin likens Stevens’ coaching style to that of Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle in their belief in “positionless basketball.” He addded that Stevens emphasizes rest more than any other coach he’s had. It’s been a fit for Larkin, too, who certainly seems to be enjoying his one-year deal in Boston.
“We’re winning a lot of games and I’m happy to be here,” Larkin said. “This is the most I’ve won in a couple of years in the NBA so it’s definitely a good feeling and a good experience so far.”
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Source: GreenStreet Blog