Boston Celtics’ Matt Ryan, DoorDash to NBA Roster
Matt Ryan might be a name you have heard before, but it’s likely not the Matt Ryan that comes to mind. It’s not the one-time NFL MVP quarterback we’re talking about. It’s the 6-foot-7 forward with a sweet stroke and an inspirational story.
Following a game-winning shot for the Boston Celtics in their Summer League game on Monday, Ryan was asked how it felt to see his hard work pay off.
“I mean, it’s pretty emotional…It’s just been a crazy 11 months. I was home for a year and a half,” an emotional Ryan said to the media in Las Vegas. “I don’t know if you guys heard my story, but man, I was driving DoorDash a year ago, and to be here, to be a part of the Boston Celtics, it’s…special.”
That’s where his story is now, hopefully nowhere near complete. Now, let’s take you to the beginning.
Ryan would start pursuing an NBA Career at the University of Notre Dame. He would average 5.1 points, 1.7 rebounds, and 0.5 assists in his first year with the Fighting Irish. Not great, but not terrible for a freshman. However, the following year, Ryan would regress, only averaging 3.6 and decreasing all other statistical categories.
Ryan decided it was time for a change of scenery. In 2017, the former Golden Domer would transfer to Vanderbilt, where he was deemed ineligible to play.
The following year, Ryan would finally get back on the hardwood. In 29 games, 25 as a starter, Ryan averaged 8.1 points, 2.7 rebounds, and 0.9 assists. Although these were all career highs, Ryan felt another change was needed to put himself on the NBA’s radar. The White Plains, New York native, would transfer to the University of Chattanooga for his final collegiate season, averaging 15.4 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 1.9 assists as a full-time starter.
In 2020, Ryan would go undrafted in the NBA Draft and signed with the Denver Nuggets a little less than a year later in September 2021 on a 10-day Exhibit deal. Although the forward thought his dreams had finally come true, another setback would arise in less than a month. The Nuggets decided that Ryan was not worth a second contract allowing him to waivers. Ryan was a free agent yet again.
Undeterred, he would continue pursuing an NBA roster spot while playing for the Denver Nuggets G-League team, the Grand Rapid Gold. In 12 games for the Gold, Ryan averaged 12.1 points, 2.0 rebounds, and 1.0 assists on 42.9% from the floor and 38.0% from three. Heads were turned.
Fast forward to February of 2022, the Boston Celtics made a call to Ryan and signed the forward to a two-way contract. Undoubtedly Brad Stevens of the Celtics saw potential in the young sharpshooter, and with his time on the Maine Celtics, Ryan looked to prove Stevens right. In over 30 games in the G-League in Maine, Ryan averaged 19.4 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 2.0 assists.
Following a run with the Celtics in the NBA Finals, Ryan had a quick turnaround to prepare for the 2k23 NBA Las Vegas Summer League. In two games so far, Ryan has led the Celtics squad in scoring in both.
In Saturday night’s loss to the Miami Heat, the forward outscored each starter for both teams off the bench. He only had 15 points but shot an efficient 4-8 from three. Ryan showed that Saturday night was just a warm-up game as he would lift the C’s over the Milwaukee Bucks 111-109 on Monday night. With two seconds remaining in the game, Ryan banked a three-point floater to win the game while injuring his left ankle. Ryan finished with 23 points in the win and added two rebounds and a lone assist.
With every game Ryan continues to put up efficient scoring outings, the forward’s chances at finally earning that NBA roster spot increases. Matt Ryan has proved that NBA talent comes from all backgrounds, and hard work and consistency pay off.