Vitor Faverani was dubbed a “mystery man” when the Celtics signed him this offseason. Videos of the 6-foot-11-inch Brazilian center were sparse online, and, even when found, one can’t get a true sense of a player just from watching a short highlight reel.
What was known about the 25-year-old was that he was physical, hence his nickname, “El Hombre Indestructible.” He reiterated that on Celtics media day when, as he described his playing style, he said, “I like to fight.”
In the early preseason games, Faverani looked raw, as any player would without NBA experience. He was still adjusting to the speed, talent, skill, and even size of the other players, who outmatched what he faced professionally in Spain last season.
But after seven preseason games, Faverani has come far — so far it’s likely he’ll earn considerable playing time for the Celtics this season.
Of course, Faverani is the only center on the Celtics roster, but that doesn’t guarantee him playing time, either. The Celtics have multiple forwards they could use together on the floor.
But Faverani has proven that, at the very least, he’s serviceable, which is all the Celtics could really ask for right now.
“He’s had a pretty good preseason and I think with his size, he’s going to win some time, simply because of the way he plays and the way he’s going to be effective on both ends around the rim,” coach Brad Stevens said Sunday after the Celtics’ 104-89 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
Faverani had 8 points on 3-of-6 shooting and three rebounds in 16 minutes. He’s averaging 6.1 points and 4 rebounds in 13.9 minutes per game this preseason.
He’s also shooting 47 percent from the floor.
Though he’s new to the NBA, the brutish Faverani said he has gotten much more comfortable and that his game starts on the defensive end, namely with rebounding. “My game is low post,” he said Sunday. “I try to work this way.”
As for playing time, he said he’ll take what he can get.
“For me, I’m going to work hard all day,” Faverani said. “When the coach gives me minutes, I try to do my best. I need my minutes, but I know it’s very difficult for him. Too many big guys. I’m waiting for my time.”
But, according to Stevens, that time is coming.
Off, but go on
Jared Sullinger is not a 3-point shooter by trade. He attempted just five in his injury-shortened rookie season, making one.
But he has shot 15 this preseason, making just two. Sullinger was 0 for 3 against Minnesota, and 0 for 3 in the game before that.
“He needs to keep shooting, because he’ll make them,” Stevens said. “I’m not worried about that. All those guys need to shoot them more freely and with less hesitancy.”
Stevens pointed out that it’s not as though the majority of Sullinger’s shots have come from beyond the arc. During the preseason, 23 percent of Sullinger’s 64 field goal attempts have come from 3-point range.
Stevens also defended Kelly Olynyk’s long-distance skills. The 2013 first-round draft pick is 2 for 7 from 3-point range this preseason.
However, like Sullinger, Olynyk has taken many more inside shots. Just 14 percent of his 51 field goal attempts have been 3-pointers.
“It’s not like they’re chucking them up there,” Stevens said, “and they have to be able to stretch the defense because that’s what they can do, again, with some of their matchups.”
Scheduled for fun
The Red Sox went from worst to first and are in the World Series.
Pressure? Stevens doesn’t view it that way for his Celtics, who are entering a rebuilding stage and figure to struggle mightily this season.
“I look at it as fun,” he said. “I think it’s great that the Red Sox are doing what they do. I’m looking at my calendar just like everybody is looking at their calendar and hope to get a chance to watch and root for them as much as possible.
“One of the great things about Boston is, from everything I can tell, they’ve been through the process. [The fans] have not just stayed with their teams when they’ve been at the very top. They’ve been with them all the time. That’s a really appealing part of not only this job, but this fan base. It’s great. And we’re looking forward to that.
“Obviously, we hope our process is as smooth and quick as the Red Sox are going right now, but in the meantime we’ll just root for them.”Baxter Holmes can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @BaxterHolmes.