Monthly Archives: November 2015
OK, so it’s only 4 games in. And most of the games have come against decent opposition. But still…it hasn’t exactly been pretty so far for the Boston Celtics. Tough start to the season for a team that had some had high expectations heading in. Well, from a lot of people anyway. I have the team pegged around .500 or so, maybe a little over. Conference doesn’t seem all that strong. Celtics have some players. They have a good coach. Blah, blah, blah. I figure if the roster remains the same, they should be a little better than last year. And really no more. Certainly not championship timber. Again, that is if the roster remains the same all the way through.
But therein lies the problem. The roster. The way I see it, the team has 15 players that seem to have something to add to any NBA team, to varying degrees of course. They may have even had 16 players, before waiving Perry Jones shortly before the season started to get to the 15 man roster limit. Yeah, that Jones note is of course irrelevant, but the point is this: The roster HAS to change. There are too many guys that are capable of contributing every night…but none of them are superstars or really even All-Stars. Every one of them has some sort of flaw, even if that “flaw” may be that they are too young and haven’t hit their stride yet…that is, IF they do.
The bottom line is that having this many capable guys affects the rotation on a daily basis. Brad Stevens has a few guys that he can guarantee minutes too…Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, I suppose Avery Bradley. But the rest he says “have to earn it”. Uh oh. Sounds like the coach of the 2006-2007 C’s…Doc Rivers. This is when he had a ton of young guys like Gerald Green, Bassy Telfair, Ryan Gomes, Tony Allen, Big Al Jefferson, etc. And he had trouble finding a consistent rotation then too. Played a guy like Green 30 minutes one night and 5 the next. “Had to earn it”, he said. That team won 24 games. And Doc had a superstar in Paul Pierce, albeit for only about a half a season due to injury.
2006-7 was Doc’s third year and he was trending downward. This is Stevens’ third year. He of course is trending upward, but how much further can he go with this group? I like Brad. I didn’t mind Doc, though I didn’t love him. Thought he was overrated. Didn’t win here until he had 3 Hall of Fame players and a 4th guy that was an All-Star. Then went to a Clippers team that had a bunch of studs and he is winning now too. But didn’t win much otherwise. He smiled and joked around and was friendly with the local writers, so it always seemed like this helped his rep more than it should have. In any event, I feel strongly that the coach is extremely overrated in the NBA…at least in this era. Doc didn’t win big until he had the players. Stevens is probably on that course too. Greg Popovich may be a great coach. But he certainly has had the players over the years. Guys like Erik Spoelstra and Dave Blatt…are they good coaches? Or did they win because they had/have LeBron James? My guess is the latter…and the list is endless.
Ultimately, GM Danny Ainge has to pull the trigger. I know, Captain Obvious here. But with all the players and upcoming draft picks, it’s long overdue. I thought it would have happened by now. Obviously no old buddies like Kevin McHale are around now to do Danny a favor by trading the C’s the 2015 version of Kevin Garnett. But shouldn’t there be a deal or two out there somewhere? These players have all said the right things from the start of camp as they knew the plan and even as they watch their minutes fluctuate already. But does that last if they start losing? Doesn’t usually in that scenario.
At the very least, Stevens needs to settle on his 8 guys or so and move forward with them instead of changing the lineup every other game. This may piss a select few off, but he can’t keep playing 11-13 guys every night. It never works. I admit, I haven’t watched every second of the first 4 games, but I have watched a great deal. Turnovers. Missed layups. Lack of rebounding. Awful shooting percentages (please Brad, do not encourage guys like Jared Sullinger and Amir Johnson to shoot threes anymore…they just don’t belong out there beyond the arc). Etc. Guys sitting for long stretches and getting out of the flow of the game would seemingly effect some of the above, no?
What would I do until Danny can move some bodies? I knew you would ask! Happy to oblige. Let’s work backward:
I would lop 4 players off immediately by shipping them up to Maine and having them play 35-40 minutes a game up there, instead of 3 minutes every other game in Boston. Practice regularly. Work on fundamentals. All that. These are James Young, Jordan Mickey, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter. I have no idea if any of these guys will ultimately be any good. But I see some sort of talent in each of them. See if they can play some games against at least fringe NBA competition (hopefully that is what the Development League has…at least guys better than the average college opponent) and develop into something. Young and Mickey are already there. The other two should be too. Rozier looks just as out of control as I what I remember from him at Louisville. In the one game Hunter has played, it seems as if he just sits on the wing outside the three-point line and just stands there as the other 4 players move the ball around. Then he may get lucky and touch the rock every once in a while too, but not often. This can’t be ideal. These being young guys, they seemingly wouldn’t complain about being up there for a bit.
That leaves 11. Jonas Jerebko and Tyler Zeller are 10-11. I’m not even sure why they re-signed Jonas…or even why he would want to come back with all the bodies in tow here. But he does nothing for me. If you wanted to give him 5 minutes a night for some sort of energy, well, ok. Zeller seems like a pretty decent backup center to me. But I’m not losing sleep if he is not playing. Kelly Olynyk is your 9th man. I personally have no use for Brad Lohaus 2.0. 7-footer that can’t play inside. Not a rebounder. Not a three-point shooter, though Brad lets him fire away too. Not a defensive guy. Not sure what exactly he does well. But he’s better than Jerebko and Zeller. And until there are some moves to make room for any of the 12th-15th guys to maybe show what they can do here, 9th man seems to be about right for Kelly.
The remaining 8 should be getting all the run basically. I would start Sullinger and Johnson at center and power forward (or vice versa) and have them stay within 10 feet (15 feet max) of the basket at all times. Yes, they are both listed at 6’9″ and will be undersized at those positions. But, as fat as Sully still looks, they are likely your best rebounders, so just deal with it. Evan Turner starts at small forward. The guy was arguably your best all around player last year and now you drop him down the depth chart this year and for what? Makes no sense. Bradley at shooting guard and Smart as point guard round out the starters. I’ve never been a Bradley guy, but what other choice do you have? Smart needs to play 35 minutes a game or so at the point as they need to find out if he is a (the?) cornerstone to build on. Or to ideally increase his trade value, if that’s what you want…
Isaiah is probably your best player, but he remains at the 6th man spot. Just seems like the best spot for him. David Lee and Jae Crowder are your 7-8 guys. Lee got buried last year in Golden State last year and I am not exactly sure why. He’s certainly on the back nine, but you could do worse on this team. Johnson and Thomas seem to have worked well together through the first 4 games, so if you wanted to swap Lee and Johnson, I suppose it wouldn’t matter. 6’9″ vet or 6’9″ vet that can both rebound a little…take your pick. The C’s seem to love Crowder…I don’t entirely get it. But he seems to be useful. Think he is more of a bench guy as well. But inexplicably got some decent dough in the offseason, so he will play a ton. Maybe it’s partially to justify the return for Rajon Rondo…who knows?
So that is that, for whatever that is worth. The team should continue to improve on their finish last season and generally should be more interesting to watch than in recent years. There is some promise. But the work is far from done…