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Celtics Breakup Party, Part 2

Picking up right where we left off…just remember, DEMETRIUS JACKSON.  Ok, I will stop yelling now that I have your attention.  On to the rest of the roster, still in alphabetical order…

*Jonas Jerebko/Amir Johnson.  I’m going to lump these two together.  Because I can.  And they are next to each other on the roster.  More importantly, it’s because I thought neither one of their options should have been picked up before the season.  To me, it was a colossal waste of 17 million for a combined 36 minutes a game for these stiffs.  They couldn’t have paid one player the whole 17 mil and received a better return?

Harsh assessment?  Most assuredly.  But it is what it is.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again:  I have no idea what Johnson brings to the table.  None.  Doesn’t rebound.  Doesn’t block shots.  Doesn’t score.  Defense?  Perhaps.  But when I watched him, he didn’t make much of a difference.  Never comes up with a “50/50 ball”.  Etc.  Yet he started almost every game this year.  Oh, if you take away Jackson’s 1 for 1 on threes, then Amir led the team in three-point percentage.  Yup.  27 for 66, for 41%.  And yes, I just looked it up.  Actually, I was looking for something (anything?!) Johnson contributed and stumbled upon that nugget.  I know, only 66 threes attempted, so big deal.  But if you asked anyone if they thought Amir shot that many threes this season, they wouldn’t believe it either (10 for 43 for 23% last year, by the way…found that interesting as well).  So I guess I discovered something he did add to the mix.

You know what else I realized about Johnson?  That he was the second highest paid Celtic this year.  A distant second to Al Horford, but second highest nonetheless.  Yikes!!

I know, Johnny Kid…you will disagree with the above analysis.  But that’s how I saw it…

As for Jerebko, well, I didn’t have much love for him either.  He sure as hell hustles his arse off and can hit the occasional three himself.  But…seemingly takes up space for the most part.

I can’t even talk about these guys anymore.  I hope neither of them are back.  Although if Brad Stevens uses Jonas going forward like he did at the end of the playoffs, which is…barely…then if he wants to come back for a veteran minimum salary and there were open roster spots, I wouldn’t complain…too much.  Johnson?  I wish him well at his next stop.  If there is one…

*Jordan Mickey/James Young.  Uh oh.  There goes the alphabetical order!  But it made sense to lump these guys together.  Plus, “Y” does come after “M”, you know.

Before the season, I had high hopes for both of these guys.  I had no idea if either of these two could play in the NBA.  Unfortunately, I still don’t.  That’s what happens when these guys apparently drew straws for the 13th and final active roster spot on a nightly basis.

With the way this team was sure to have (and did have) problems rebounding, I was hoping Mickey would get some minutes to try to help that problem.  Young, being his third year but still only 21, I was hoping for him to get minutes to see if he would finally develop into something useful.  Neither one got those minutes because they went to Gerald Green, Jerebko, Johnson, etc.

We already know what the veteran bench guys can do.  We didn’t (don’t) know what Mickey or Young can do.  Maybe it’s nothing.  Maybe they just sucked really bad at practice and they didn’t ultimately “earn” their time.  But it would have been nice to find out about them in real games.

Based on the above, I don’t see either back next year.  Young is unrestricted anyway.  Mickey has non-guaranteed money, but doesn’t seem likely the Cs will guarantee it.

I have no idea why, but I bought into the Young hype from Day One.  Left school early, top 10 talent if he stayed in school (“they” say anyway), steal for where they took him in the draft (17th), etc.  I’ve always had this vision that he is like Jermaine O’Neal.  Not the style of play of course.  Not the “Boston Celtic years Jermaine O’Neal”.  But the O’Neal that came into the league at 18 years old, languished on the bench in Portland for 4 years, then blossomed into an All-Star as soon as he went to Indiana.

Yeah, Young probably doesn’t turn out to be anything.  But please note both he and Jermaine were taken at #17 in the first round of their respective drafts.  So if my hunch is right…somebody owes me something…

*Kelly Olynyk.  Who do I dislike more, Johnson or Olynyk?  It’s close.  If “Game 7 against the Wizards Kelly Olynyk” showed up more, it’s obviously a lot easier to trash on Amir.  Goes without saying.  But unfortunately, THAT guy shows up once every 40 games or so.  Or something like that.  It’s mostly the abundantly average KO that is around most of the time.  So it makes the decision tougher.

Listen, Olynyk will always be better than I will ever give him credit for.  It’s just that I like my 7-footers to be able to rebound and play down low.  And he can’t.  Which infuriates me a little as well because it looks like he may actually have some ability down inside, believe it or not.  I know, this is Brad’s system and that’s what he wants Kelly to do…blah, blah, blah.  I get it.  But I don’t have to like it.

As for next year, Olynyk is a restricted free agent coming off 3.1 mil this year.  If you ask me, I let him walk.  He will want a nice raise, for whatever reason.  But look closely at the numbers.  Four years in the league and no improvement really.  He has essentially been the same guy for those four years.  Is he all of a sudden take a step up in his age 26-27 season next year?  Or beyond?  Doubtful.  So why give this guy a fat raise for that?  He is what he is and there is some value to that.  Just not the value in dollars he likely will be looking for.  Let him go.

Honestly though, I think Danny makes a good effort to keep him, sad to say.  It probably depends on what they do with the guards and who they bring in and all that.  He may not fit financially when all the chips fall into place.  But Danny does try to keep him here.

*Terry Rozier/Marcus Smart.  Pairing these guys up based on position…and length of this post!  Smart played pretty much starters minutes and Rozier was essentially your 4th guard.  Rozier seems like he may be the better ballhandler and rebounder, Smart could possibly have the better all around game when you throw in his D.  Both are 23 years old with birthdays in March, so there’s that.  Even better, they were the only Celtics to shoot less than 40% from the field (about 36% apiece for both), so I suppose there are some similarities.

Despite the fact that he shoots entirely too much and no one bothers reining him in, and despite the fact that he can still be a knucklehead at times, Smart grew on me this past season.  If Avery Bradley is indeed moved as I think, I believe Smart moves into the starting lineup and takes another step up.  Just a gut feeling.

Rozier?  Don’t be shocked if he is moved either.  Yes, he could step up to be the primary backup guard.  I can’t say I would be opposed to that, as he showed some growth between his rookie and sophomore years in the NBA.  But I have other ideas for the #3 guard.  One could be Jaylen Brown, as discussed in the previous post.  Brown filled in there when Bradley missed time earlier in the year.  If Jae Crowder stays, Brown has to get more minutes somewhere.  And he no doubt has more upside than Rozier.

I have another player in mind for the #3 guard.  That’s a story for a different day however.

Next:  Still a big name missing…

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Better…but…

…still a ways away.  Talking Boston Celtics of course.  Finally got themselves a playoff win in the Brad Stevens era after 6 losses to start out.

So now they are down 2 games to 1 to the Atlanta Hawks.  With Game 4 also in Boston.  Does that mean they are back in the series?  I’m not sure about that.

Losing a 20 point lead is concerning.  They actually have lost decent double-digit leads more often than you want from a team over the Stevens tenure, but at least this one didn’t result in a loss.  Loved how they came out of the gate strong.  But then fizzled for a couple of quarters.  Good to see they finished strong though as well.

I think it goes without saying that one of these games they need to play a whole 48 minutes.  Cliche, I know.  But haven’t seen that this series.

They are also going to need more than Isaiah Thomas offensively.  That also goes without saying.  But he scored 38% of their points last night.  And had a mere 1 assist.  The Celtics are a better team when he is scoring a smidge less and distributing quite a bit more.  Again, not rocket science here.

But who is going to help?  Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk will likely be out again.  I don’t know where the hell Jae Crowder has gone offensively.  Ok, on the telecast they mention quite a bit that he is playing “at less than 1oo%”.  Side note:  Jae, please stop telling people this over and over.  Which is what the telecast said he has been doing.  Not cool.  But anyway, his defense still appears to be pretty good.  Apparently Paul Millsap has said as much.  So why can’t he shoot anymore?

Does anyone expect Jonas Jerebko to repeat his Game 3 performance?  I sure as heck don’t!  Pleasant surprise last night, no question.  But did miss plenty of open shots himself.  They are still rolling R.J. Hunter out there for a few minutes a game.  One rebound and then a coast to coast basket off of it in 7 minutes.  May as well have not been on the court the rest of the time.  Evan Turner will give you some solid overall play, but maybe not any kind of offensive explosion.

I think you get the point.

Also worth considering is this potential Isaiah suspension.  Sure looks as if the Hawks have a case.  The game almost got wildly out of control at a few points last night, with the flagrant fouls and rough play and all.  But somehow it didn’t blow up to that point.  The Thomas/Dennis Schroder stuff looked like it could have a few times specifically.  And in the several times I looked at the replay this morning, it looked like Isaiah knew what he was doing when he bashed Schroder upside the head.  Not that it was a knockout blow, mind you.  Looked like a typical punch thrown by a NBA player.  Pugilists, they are not.  Regardless, it did look pretty intentional to me.  The C’s and Thomas should be a little worried about this one.  A shove is one thing.  Any kind of blow to the head is completely another.

And if IT gets a suspension?  Do I really need to say it?  No Thomas = no chance.

On the Hawks side, does anyone think they’ll only get 8 points from Al Horford again?  Maybe Crowder has done a good job on Millsap defensively and that is why Millsap hasn’t done much.  But who was guarding Horford where he only got 8?  Jerebko?  Fat chance that will happen again in Game 4.

I suppose you never know what you will get from Schroder, Kyle Korver or Kent Bazemore from game to game.  These dudes were all “on” last night.  So maybe they are all “off” next game.  Who knows?

In any event, I think we have to wait to see what happens with Isaiah before making a judgement about Game 4.  If he is in the lineup, I absolutely believe they can even up this series tomorrow.  Maybe Jerebko doesn’t repeat his performance.  But maybe Jared Sullinger gets a chance and he delivers.  Or someone else.  As usual, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts with these Celts, especially when you throw in some of that home cookin’…but if no Isaiah?  It’s probably c-ya next year basically…

 

So much for 50 wins?

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…

 

 

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