WEEI’s Jessica Camerato has a great piece about how well Rasheed Wallace has fit in with the Boston Celtics. But me, I’m not surprised at all that Rasheed has fit in: He’s always been considered by his coaches and teammates as the ultimate team player, even when the media proclaims him a jerk and acts like he’s a team cancer.
Since I already figured ‘Sheed was fitting in just swell, another part of the piece stood out to me; Kendrick Perkins talks about what ‘Sheed thought his role would be:
“The first day I realized it, how he socialized with everybody, his approach,” Perkins said. “He was loud and joking around. He was saying what his role is, ‘My role is to come in, give a few hard fouls, and shoot some 3′s.’ That’s what he was saying, so I think he’s the perfect fit for our team.”
Notice how Rasheed didn’t say his role was to rebound the basketball, or to provide low-post offense. Nope, he considered his role — even as a 6’11″ center — to stand on the perimeter and launch threes. (Note: And he didn’t even say make them — how did he know?)
For the first dozen or so games, Rasheed played just like he said he would; he camped out at the three-point line and shot enough times to make Tony Montana jealous. Then, all of a sudden, you could see the lightbulb go off inside his head: Either Rasheed thought to himself, “Man, I’m missing all my threes, I’d better take my ass down low,” or Doc Rivers prodded him, “‘Sheed you’re missing all your threes, you’d better take your ass down low.”
Whatever it was, I can remember the first time I saw ‘Sheed’s full post repertoire on display for the Celtics. Here’s what I said, all the way back on November 28, when the Celtics played the Toronto Raptors:
Why, oh why, does Rasheed Wallace not go into the post more often? Especially when he’s mired in a seemingly oh-fer-the-season slump, wouldn’t you think he would at least try his post game out a little? Well, he did in this game. First post touch: Drop step towards the baseline around Bargnani for an easy bucket. Second post touch (on the very next play), an unblockable fadeaway turning towards his left shoulder for another bucket. Please, Rasheed, don’t be allergic to the paint. You are far too talented on the blocks.
Even after that game, I wondered if he only went down low because he was playing the softer-than-marshmallow tandem of Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani. I thought he might immediately migrate back to the land of trifectas once he played a big man who had — to be appropriate — heart.
And he has… but only occasionally. Rasheed still likes to chuck jumpers, and I assume he always will, but he’s started to sprinkle in his very polished post game with his affinity for the outside shot. He’s added another dimension to his game, a dimension he’s always had in his back pocket but didn’t always display.
Rasheed’s role is a-changing. And it’s for the better.