Giddens will get chance to shine
OREM - When the Celtics play Philadelphia in Boston on Friday night, first-round draft pick J.R. Giddens won't be there.
Instead, Giddens will be in Texas, where the Utah Flash open their NBA Developmental League season against the Austin Toros.
If he's disappointed about playing in the D-League, however, Giddens doesn't show it.
"Up there, I'm not going to get the opportunity to show what I can do because, obviously, our depth chart is strong," Giddens said. "We have a very deep team and I haven't been able to crack that lineup, so coming down here and playing is better than sitting up there. . . . Down here, I can grow. I already feel like it's helping me."
If Giddens' name sounds familiar, it's probably because he played his final two collegiate seasons at New Mexico - Mountain Western Conference rivals of BYU and Utah.
After averaging 16.3 points, 8.8 rebounds and 3.1 assists as a senior, Giddens was projected to go in the second round of the NBA Draft. But Celtic boss Danny Ainge took him with the 30th pick, making him the last first-rounder.
"It was one of the highlights of my life," Giddens said. "You always dream about having your name called in the NBA Draft. It was the first round, too. So I was just very blessed that the Celtics gave me an opportunity to further my playing career."
What did Ainge tell him when Giddens was assigned to the Flash?
"Well," Giddens said, "I wasn't getting any playing time and I want to become a better player, so he said, 'Go there and play. Work hard and get better.'
"When you're not playing at all, you develop rust on your game. You need to fine-tune things. So I'm here to fine-tune my game, get my rhythm back, catch my mojo a little and get my swag going."
Flash coach Brad Jones is thrilled to have Giddens, who started his college career at Kansas before transferring to New Mexico.
"I expect great things from J.R.," Jones said. "He's a talented guy. A terrific defender. He's got a great body. Offensively, he can really rise up above people and make shots, which you have to do at the NBA level."
Besides giving him a chance to develop and help the Flash win games - "That's what it's all about," he said - Giddens' D-League assignment will help him learn what it takes to play a grueling six-month schedule.
Said Jones: "One of the things that we've seen in some NBA guys assigned to us is, one night they're great and one night you think, 'Wow, where are they?' So that's a focus with J.R., too. Hopefully, he'll be able to compete on a consistent level."
Travel in the D-League can also show an NBA team how well a young player takes care of himself and whether he is committed to his craft.
This weekend, for example, the Flash play back-to-back at Austin and Rio Grande Valley. Unlike teams in the NBA, D-Leaguers travel on commercial flights and stay in comfortable but not luxurious hotels.
"We've got a 7 a.m. flight on Saturday," Jones said. "That's means about a 4 a.m. wake-up call. We get to Rio Grande about 1 in the afternoon and we play at 7.
"That's part of the reason the Celtics wanted J.R. here early. They looked at our schedule and saw some back-to-backs and wanted to see how he would respond - if he could be consistent."
J.R. Giddens' college career:
Season G FG 3s FT FT% Reb Ast Pts
Kansas 33 141-297 74-182 18-27 .667 3.6 0.8 11.3
Kansas 30 111-275 63-187 17-25 .680 3.8 1.4 10.1
New Mexico 26 156-354 41-136 59-100 .590 6.5 2.3 15.8
New Mexico 33 201-407 25-75 92-157 .586 8.8 3.1 16.3
Utah Flash 2008-09 schedule
29-at Rio Grand Valley
6-vs. Anaheim (D-League Showcase)
8-vs. Los Angeles (D-League Showcase)
9-at Los Angeles
13-at Sioux Falls
20-vs. Los Angeles
26-vs. Fort Wayne
6-vs. Los Angeles
10-at Fort Wayne
14-vs. Sioux Falls
1-vs. Rio Grand Valley
5-at Los Angeles
7-vs. Los Angeles
* Single-game tickets are available at the Flash ticket office at the McKay Events Center, at any Smithstix location or on-line at
smithstix.com. Tickets cost $150, $75, $24, $17, $10 and $7.
* Group tickets must be purchased in advance by calling 801-434-4667. In the lower bowl, each seat costs $10 for groups of 25-49 persons and $8 for groups of 50-499 persons. In the upper bowl, each seat costs $5 for groups of 25-49 persons and $4 for groups of 50-499 persons.
* Season tickets are still available. Prices are $1,824, $984, $456, $312, $168 and $96.