Can you smell that? Ahhh, it’s the sweet smell of basketball. Training camp has finally arrived, and the regular season? That’s less than a month away. I’m not going to lie, I woke up this morning with the strength of three men. (Or, at least three Shaun Livingstons.) It’s finally basketball season, folks, and I couldn’t be happier.
Looking forward to training camp, a few questions stand out.
- How healthy is Kevin Garnett? – No other question holds as much importance. Garnett is the Celtics’ engine. Their defensive anchor. Their William Wallace. I’ve got a test to see whether he’s healthy: have him defend Luke Harangody. If ‘Gody so much as scores one single bucket, Garnett’s still not 100%.
- Who will start at center? – The only training camp competition for a starter’s position exists between Jermaine and Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq might be conceding the starting position (“We’re the BBM – the Boston Bench Mob,” he told Marquis Daniels), so it’s probably Jermaine’s to lose. Which makes more sense. The thought of Shaq’s low-post scoring on the second unit makes me giddy, and Jermaine’s defensive mindset can keep the starters more similar to last year.
- ‘Quisy’s confidence - It’s a new year for Marquis. Last year is gone, wiped away, erased from memory. And thank God. ‘Quisy needs a clean slate and a second beginning. No pressure, Marquis, but the Celtics expect — and need – a lot from you.
- The rooks – Want to hear my hopes that any of the rookies make an impact? 0.43%. Which is weird, because I’m high on all of them. I drool at Avery Bradley’s defensive potential, admire Semih Erden’s ability to play a role on a contender, and believe ‘Gody was drafted way too low. But where are the openings for minutes? The rookies will have to exceed my expectations just to step foot on the floor.
- The final roster spot – Danny Ainge just about starts salivating every time he talks about Delonte West, so I’m pretty sure West’s spot on the team is secure. That likely leaves only one spot for takes. The leading candidate is Von Wafer, but there are a couple white flags: 1) Ainge has twice spoken to media in the past few weeks; neither time did the words “Von” or “Wafer” escape his lips. And 2) Daniels has reportedly agreed to sign in China if he doesn’t make the Celtics. That doesn’t exactly exude confidence. Look for Tony Gaffney to provide Wafer’s toughest competition. We know Gaffney, all arms and legs and motor, can play defense. But is his offensive game as polished as it needs to be?
- How’s Delonte West doing? – Unfortunately, this question won’t ever go away. No matter how well he’s behaving, West will always be considered one incident from the edge. Fair or not, that’s the reality. West has a lot to deal with right now. A ten-game suspension. A new (but old) fanbase worried about his behavior. The persistent rumors that he shares a lot in common with Finch from American Pie. Let’s hope West handles it all gracefully. Not for the Celtics. For him.
- Glen Davis’s new role – Because of Sheed’s love affair with the three-point arc, Davis played around the basket a lot last year. But it’s a new year and a new role. With the O’Neal brothers on board, Davis’s game will migrate more to the perimeter, like it did in ’08-’09 when he filled in for Kevin Garnett. It worked well for Davis then. How about now?
- Sir Lawrence - Maybe the most important change of the summer, Lawrence Frank replaced the departed Tom Thibodeau. We won’t know Frank’s impact during training camp, but he’s got a new defense to install and some monstrous shoes to fill. Work some magic, Lawrence.
- Can the bench develop chemistry? – The C’s bench is very talented, deep at every position (except maybe the three). But it’s also an insane and potentially devastating psychological experiment. Will the idiots band together, like the ’04 Red Sox? Or will they self-combust?
Any other questions you’ve got? Leave them in the comments section.