Friday, January 25, 2013

The Other Guys

As the Boston Celtics continue to find their way, coach Doc Rivers is becoming less and less confident in the units he is putting on the floor. He did recently say that he thinks the talent he needs is in the locker room (Doc Rivers discussing the underachieving Celtics on PTI 1/23 - 9:00 mark), but fans are pushing for moves to be made before February 21st. The Celtics got no scoring in a three point fourth quarter loss to the Knicks, including two terrible late turnovers. As I write this the Celtics are going into overtime with the Hawks after leading by 27, and the outcome really does not matter. (Hawks won in double OT). Win or lose their lack of effort and inability to score down the stretch told the story.

After these last games it's becoming clear that the need for scoring trumps everything else. Outside of Paul Pierce this team has no true scorer (and Pierce didn't even show up in the fourth quarter of the Knicks game). Rivers seems to think he has the guys to win in the locker room in his PTI interview, but break down the team and it really shows otherwise:

Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett: Pierce and KG are what they are. Aging superstars that are contributing to the best of their abilities. Both have lost a step even since last season, but there is not much of a reason to move either of them unless Boston is getting a significantly younger star. Not to mention the image it would create of how the organization treats its face of the franchise if they were to move Pierce after all this time. Garnett is still as valuable as any player on the defensive side of the ball, and Pierce is the best scorer on a team with no other scorers at the moment... nothing to see here.

Avery Bradley/Jared Sullinger: AKA the future. Probably the Celtics two strongest trade pieces, and at the same time the two players Boston would like to keep most alongside Rondo for their future. Both have shown their potential, most recently during the win streak when Bradley shut down the best perimeter player on the opposing team and found his offense, and Sully was a rebounding machine including scoring on the offensive glass. If Danny Ainge has any kind of plan, it should start with holding on to these two players.

Jeff Green/Courtney Lee: The inconsistencies have killed the upside these two players should be able to contribute to this current team's winning. Both very talented in their systems before coming to Boston (Green 15.2 PPG, 5.6 RPG in his last half season with OKC and Lee 11.4 PPG shooting over 40% from 3 PT), now are just role players we pray will show up on a given night. During the Celtics six game win streak they were arguable two of the best players on the team... hmmmm. But their numbers this season clearly show a drop off overall (Green 9.4 PPG 3.2 RPG and Lee 7 PPG shooting 34% from 3 PT). Both players have been mentioned in trade rumors, and if playing to their potential should have been able to be swapped for good talent, but that is looking less and less likely as their struggle continue.

Jason Terry/Brandon Bass: Terry and Bass are making Green and Lee look like All-Stars. Terry was essentially expected to be Ray Allen this season and to say that hasn't worked out would be an under statement. Terry is down from 15.1 to 9.8 PPG this season, the lowest since his rookie season, and that number is dropping. Bass is down from 12.5 to 7.6 PPG this season... you can start to see where all this missing scoring is. Most of the players on this team are new, however Bass plays primarily with the same unit he did last year, so there is not much of an excuse for his lack of play. Both of these players have been miserable, Boston would be fortunate to get rid of either in a trade.

Leandro Barbosa/Chris Wilcox: Each player has been injured or in Barbosa's case dealt with a personal issue, but when they play they are effective. Wilcox is on his way back from injury but should resume playing soon. On a team where scoring and rebounding have become big needs, an offensive talent like Barbosa and a rebounder like Wilcox deserve to be playing... I'll keep it that simple.

Fab Melo/Jason Collins: We'll keep this one even more simple. The Celtics need a center, neither of these two are it. (In fairness to Melo, he could be ready in a couple years).

Rajon Rondo: Nope, I didn't forget about him, but as usual while everyone else has someone to be paired with or compared to, Rondo is in his own category. He is the best player on this team and the most diverse. At times he is the reason they are winning and at times he is the reason they are not. Which begs the question is Rondo the player the Celtics want to build around or is he their best piece to use at the trade deadline? Both are reasonable options when you look at the decline in this team. The whole reason I put this chart together is to show that outside of Rondo/Pierce/KG this is a COMPLETELY new team from the teams that have been successful in Boston in recent years. Trading Rondo at this point would not be the end of the world as some fans may see it. Especially if some combination of Terry/Lee/Bass/Green could be included as well. Rondo can and should be a scorer, but he has not been, so lets again revisit some potential players available that could help the Celtics with their scoring.

Josh Smith: Smith still has to be considered the clear cut number one option to solve the Celtics needs. He can score from all areas of the court, would buy into their defensive mentality, and can rebound which also helps solve their next highest necessity. Smith is likely to leave Atlanta for free agency this summer, the Hawks may be forced to deal him if they do not feel confident they can retain him. Once a teammate of Rondo's at Oak Hill, being reunited on the court could be a great spark for both of them.

Rudy Gay: Memphis just made a huge move to save a lot of money and retain Gay, but the door still is not completely shut on Rudy being traded. Although it looks unlikely, the Grizzlies would still listen to offers as long as they are getting talent in return, surly Rajon Rondo would qualify as a talented enough piece to hear out a deal about.

J.J. Redick: The J.J. Redick rumors are starting to swirl, and Boston is looking like the most likely destination for him (as reported here on Hoops Rumors). Redick is having a career year and the Magic are shopping him hard around the league. Averaging close to 15 points and shooting nearly 40% from downtown J.J. could be the player Celtics fans were hoping Lee or Terry would be... but Orlando is asking a high price.

Derrick Williams: Williams is young and unproven, so far he is a bust for a number two overall pick, but he has shown flashes. He can get to the basket, something Boston desperately needs. The Celtics seem to have these problems with Green and Lee, but those are players that have been in the league, why not try swapping one of them for a player with the same struggles in only his second season?

Monta Ellis: Not that Ellis is even on the trade block, but this is they type of player the Celtics need. A guy in the mold of J.R. Smith or Jamal Crawford, Ellis fits this type and should be easier to acquire than the others. This is more wishful thinking than anything, but hopefully Ainge has the same idea.

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