BOSTONWhen Kris Joseph got the news that the Boston Celtics were sending him to the D-League, he could not have been any happier.
While he has enjoyed his time with the Boston Celtics, he knew that there was little to no chance that he would play soon.
And so the idea of being in the D-League will allow him to do exactly what the league's about - developing his game.
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Joseph's first D-League action with the Maine Red Claws came in Friday night's 123-115 win at Canton.
The 6-foot-7 rookie had a game-high 28 points and eight rebounds in rallying the Red Claws (1-0) from a double-digit deficit. Boston's first-round pick Fab Melo had two points and a game-high four blocked shots.
Being a first-round pick, Melo's status is a bit more secure than that of Joseph who was selected by the C's in the second round of last June's NBA draft.
So for him, many of the players that he will face in the D-League are in a lot of ways similar to him in that they too are fighting to prove they are indeed worthy of being in the NBA.
Performances like the one he put on Friday serve as just another example of the promise that the C's see in him.
And for Joseph, the transition from the NBA to the D-League so far has been relatively smooth.
"For one, they're running a lot of the same plays if not all the same plays that we ran up (in Boston)," Joseph told CSNNE.com. "So I was already ahead of everybody. That helped me a lot, knowing the plays and knowing my spots. Me playing with these guys and knowing what level of intensity you have to play with helped me down there, too."
To see him get off to an impressive start with the Red Claws isn't all that surprising.
While with the Celtics, Joseph was often the first to arrive on game day. He would spend time with assistant coaches working on shot, doing various ball-handling drills along with an assortment of other game-related tasks.
It was one of those things that did not go unnoticed by his teammates.
"That's it right there," C's veteran Brandon Bass told CSNNE.com recently. "That's what it takes to be in this league; you have to keep working on your game, trying to get better. He's young, but he gets it. That's good for him; good for us, too."
But there's only so much growth and development that can come about by getting shots up prior to games and after practice.
Eventually, those skills have to manifest themselves in real games which is why the D-League is so important to Joseph.
"They (Celtics) don't want me to just be sitting around," Joseph said. "Me, neither. I want to play; that's how you really get better. I know playing behind Paul Pierce and Jeff Green, there's just not going to be much of an opportunity for me to play right now. That doesn't mean I can't get any better. That's what the D-League is for me; a chance to keep working on my game, keep improving so that when that opportunity does come, I'll be ready."