With only the mid-level exception to work with, Danny Ainge was tasked with reworking the entire Celtics bench. What resulted is an endearing, rag-tag group of talented has-beens and young problem children. A group that, despite all its oddities, has the potential to be one hell of a crew.
You guys know the moves Ainge made, so I’m not going to repeat them here. But what I WILL say is that the Celtics are stacked. At every position, they have a player who can get 20. They have shooters (Von Wafer, Nate Robinson, Delonte West) and they have low-post threats (Big Baby, Shaq and — when Perk returns — Jermaine O’Neal). They have ball-handlers (West, Robinson) and they have bangers. But they also have some question marks.
When Marquis Daniels inevitably injures himself, does anyone trust Von Wafer as the only small forward available off the bench? I didn’t think so. And what if Daniels plays like he did last season? Uh-oh, that’s what. There’s also a whole lot of crazy on that bench. From fun-loving, goofy personalities to life-sized diamond pendants to bi-polar disorder, the Celtics have a zany mix of insanity coming off the pine. Will all that nutty-ness mesh? Will chemistry somehow develop?
Looking back on last season, the bench was a negative. It helped win a few games in the playoffs, most notably the “Shrek and Donkey” game, but I have a phrase I will believe until I’m six feet under: When Tony Allen is your team’s most reliable bench performer, that bench has some serious issues.
With the new additions, plus the expected progress from Nate Robinson (a year of training camp should do wonders; he never learned the entire offense last year) and Big Baby (as long as he doesn’t punch another one of his friends in the face), the C’s bench should be improved. But a whole bunch of wild cards remain.
Bonus link: Paul Flannery discusses the bench, concluding “If nothing else, the Celtics new-look bench offers more answers to the same old questions. Whether they are the right answers remains to be seen.”