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James Young eager to apply lessons of a trying rookie season

Rookie guard James Young did well in the D-League, and he wants to improve this summer to get a bigger role on the Celtics.
Rookie guard James Young did well in the D-League, and he wants to improve this summer to get a bigger role on the Celtics.(Winslow Townson/Associated Press/File)

MILWAUKEE — James Young has endured a trying rookie season, which has left him brimming with desire to make an impact next year.

Young scored 9 points in 24 minutes in the Celtics’ 105-100 win over the Bucks in their season finale Wednesday night at BMO Harris Bradley Center, but he spent most of his first year injured or trying to shake off rust with NBADL Maine. Young is not expected to play much, if at all, during the Celtics’ first-round series with the Cavaliers.

“It was definitely a lot of ups and downs, injuries and stuff like that, but hopefully I can take two weeks off and then get myself ready for summer league,” said Young, who entered the game averaging 3.2 points in 30 games. “It’s definitely not what I thought it was going to be but it was my rookie season. You just move on and try to get better.”

President of basketball operations Danny Ainge said he believes Young flourished with his experience in the NBADL.

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“It’s better than not playing, for sure,” Ainge said. “He’s getting good minutes down there and he’s been productive with his whole D-League experience. He’s doing it in a winning environment and he’s expected to help the team win down there. He’s been productive in the winningest team in the D-League and those are both very positive experiences.”

Young couldn’t play the entire summer after suffering whiplash in a car accident. He also missed part of training camp with a strained hamstring and time during the season with a separated shoulder.

“Lifting weights is a big thing I’m going to look to this summer to try to catch up,” Young said. “I got caught off guard a couple of times [with an opponent’s strength], but it shows what I have to work on.

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“Like I said, you’ll probably see a different person next year. I know it’s going to come. I’m going to go out there and show what I’m working on.”

The Celtics will participate in summer leagues in Salt Lake City and Las Vegas, giving the 19-year-old a chance to play major minutes against NBA competition.

“The summer’s big for James because he missed summer league last year and so much of training camp this year,” said Ainge. “He just got behind and then he got hurt during the season so he had three setbacks this year, but we’re excited about James and I’m looking forward to working with him this summer.”

Despite essentially a lost rookie season for Young, Ainge said the guard is definitely part of the team’s future.

“A lot of it is how fast he learns and how hard he works,” he said.

“We’re confident in James. His work ethic has gotten better and he’s understanding of what it takes and I think James wants to play. We have expectations that James will be a contributor next year.”

Several players rest

As expected, coach Brad Stevens decided to give some of his players a break in the season finale, which carried no significance besides the fact that the triumph was their 40th of the season. Avery Bradley (left quadriceps contusion) stayed back in Boston but Stevens said he expects him to be ready for Game 1 Sunday against the Cavaliers.

Isaiah Thomas also was placed on the inactive list to get some rest. Thomas played in the past 11 games since missing eight games with a bruised tailbone and Stevens said he deserved a breather.

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“It’s a rest thing, to be honest,” Stevens said about Thomas. “He hasn’t had a break since he came back. He’s a fearless little guy, and I think that this is a good night for him to get some shooting work in and then sit. The other thing that goes into my mind is that I think we’re going to need Phil Pressey. I’ve said this many times that he’s the guy who won’t play for two weeks and then all of a sudden play and be really impactful.

“So I wanted him to play a lot of meaningful minutes because he’s been good when he’s done that. He’s going to play [Wednesday night] and play a lot.”

Stevens gave Gigi Datome his first NBA start in his 55th career game and he had a career-high 22 points. Datome has been a pleasant surprise since being acquired from the Pistons and has become a Stevens favorite. Jae Crowder, who hit the winning shot Tuesday night against Toronto, got the night off to rest a sore right ankle.

Kidd responds

Among Paul Pierce’s more revealing comments in a recent ESPN.com article were about his one year with the Brooklyn Nets after being acquired from the Celtics. Entering the season with championship aspirations with Pierce and Kevin Garnett, the Nets endured a tumultuous season with injuries and lack of chemistry before being eliminated in the second round by the Heat.

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Jason Kidd was the first-year coach, then bolted to take the Milwaukee job soon after the season because of disputes with general manager Billy King. Pierce was especially critical of point guard Deron Williams and swingman Joe Johnson about lack of leadership.

Kidd was asked about Pierce’s comments.

“Freedom of speech,” he said. “[Pierce] was in the locker room. For us as coaches, we’re in a different locker room. So we’re coming in pregame, halftime; they spend a lot more time in that locker room than coaches. So that group of guys that played, 10-21 and find ourselves with 44 wins, someone has to care if you’re going to turn it around that way. So I think sometimes when trades are made at the beginning of the season on paper they look great. It just takes time. Sometimes the process by the media or outside influences or sources want it to be now. Sometimes it doesn’t work that way.”


Gary Washburn can be reached at gwashburn@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @GWashburnGlobe.