R.J. Hunter is taking the next step

By Tyler Sullivan. Follow on Twitter @Tyler Sully

Celtics fans were scratching their heads (or screaming louder than KG on the TD Garden jumbotron) back in June when the team selected Terry Rozier with the 16th overall pick, but some, if not most, felt better twelve spots later when R.J. Hunter was taken with the 28th overall pick.

The sharpshooter out of Georgia State showed he has big play ability with his clutch shooting in the NCAA Tournament and, more importantly, fills a need for the C’s: three point shooting.

That need was fulfilled and on full display on Wednesday in Brooklyn where Hunter finished with 11 points nailing a team high three 3-pointers leading the C’s to the 109-105 win over the Nets.

However, it wasn’t just the shooting ability that may be making other NBA GM’s think twice about not taking Hunter. His IQ and ability to make plays defensively (4 steals) was what was most encouraging for Brad Stevens.

The high IQ shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise growing up in a basketball house where his father is the head coach of Georgia State, but it’s nice to see that Danny Ainge is already seeing some positive returns from his draft pick.

But what does this all mean? These, of course, are preseason games that mean nothing, but for players like Hunter these games could be the difference between Boston and Portland.

Ultimately, I do think that Hunter will start the year in Maine, but it’s not the James Young-death-sentence like last year (side note: Hunter has clearly surpassed him on the depth chart).

He’ll be able to focus on perfecting his shot and more importantly get bigger. The 6’5″ 185 pound shooting guard needs to put a little more meat on the bonds to compete with the bodies of the NBA, but his quick release and IQ could get him on Causeway Street and keep him there sooner than later.

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