P.J. Brown, during his half-season as a Boston Celtic, scored more than four points in a regular season game exactly zero times.
I can remember Brown running (if you can call it that) up- and down-court during his first game as a Celtic and thinking, “Well, that dude’s washed up.” Brown could barely move, and the lack of mobility made sense — he’d been retired for more than half a season, meaning he’d probably been sitting on his couch, watching TV, eating potato chips and utilizing the Rasheed Wallace workout plan. I’m telling you: when he first joined the Celtics, Brown ran like he had two flat tires. Couldn’t run, couldn’t jump, couldn’t slide his feet. Sadly enough, he looked like me, circa now.
I just checked Brown’s game log today, and (somehow, by the grace of God) Brown recorded six rebounds (in six minutes) of his first game. But I can remember it well — Brown running like he had either A) a sprained ankle, B) a broken leg, or C) a giant stick up his tuchus. I can also remember thinking Brown would not help the Celtics at all, once they made the playoffs. Clearly, I own no crystal ball.
I mention Brown because of Troy Murphy, who, so far, looks miserable (to say the least). Through 26 minutes as a Celtic, Murphy has scored a single point. He has shot the ball seven times, and missed every single attempt. He jumps like there’s an anchor tied to his legs, and (by my count) has already had his shot blocked 2,397 times. He has never been known for his defense, so Murphy’s offensive contributions will most likely become his most positive impact on the Celtics. Yet, through two games, Murphy has made no offensive contributions. Actually, that’s not fair to say. He did make one free throw, once upon a time, and even made two passes that resulted in baskets for his teammates (or, in other words, two assists).
As Doc Rivers reminds us, remain patient. The Troy Murphy era will see better days. (Greg Payne, ESPN Boston)
“He’s going to miss shots, he’s going to be streaky,” Rivers said following his team’s practice at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint on Saturday. “When you haven’t played an NBA game in a while, it’s just tough to get that speed down. But it’ll come. As long as it’s there by the playoffs, I’m happy.”
Murphy agrees. He will get better with time, he feels, as his legs become acclimated to the game’s pace. He has shot 39% from downtown for his career, remember. Though he has looked older at times this season, Murphy remains only 30 years old. Last year, he averaged 14.6 points and 10.2 rebounds while shooting 38.4% from the arc. Just last year.
“It’s going to come,” Murphy said. “I know I can shoot. It’s just getting my legs there and getting used to running up and down the court again and playing in games.
“I think it just takes being in practice, knocking down shots, taking shots. Being in the game, same thing. I’ve taken thousands of shots over the past couple months by myself in the gym, but you can’t really replicate until you get in the game-type situations.”
Of course, assuming Murphy’s shot will return also assumes that the beginning of this season was an aberration. Murphy shot very poorly in New Jersey, where Avery Johnson quickly placed Murphy in the doghouse. One could rationalize Murphy’s later run of DNP-CDs by saying he simply did not fit into New Jersey’s youth movement, but that would be oversimplifying matters. Murphy was actually New Jersey’s opening-night starter before playing himself out of the rotation. That he is not in game shape, in some ways (all ways?), is nobody’s fault but Murphy’s own.
That said, the Celtics don’t need constant double-doubles from Troy Murphy. They don’t need 30 minutes a game, or 20-point outings, or for Murphy to start. As Murphy potentially sits behind Kevin Garnett, Glen Davis, Nenad Krstic and (assuming health) the O’Neal brothers in Boston’s rotation, there’s a chance Murphy won’t even make the playoff roster. (Seriously, there is. Only twelve players make the playoff roster. That likely leaves Carlos Arroyo and Sasha Pavlovic out of luck — and who else? Maybe Murphy.)
If Murphy does find his way onto the playoff roster, and earns a role (however limited), the Celtics don’t expect greatness. They just need Murphy’s legs to round into shape during the next 22 games, so he can hit a few important shots come playoff time. The Celtics realize Murphy is not P.J. Brown — he has not mastered the art of the hard foul, nor has he made a reputation as a defense-first player. But he could play a similar role, as the veteran who plays only a few minutes, rarely makes mistakes, and drills timely shots.
P.J. Brown looked bad during the ’07-’08 regular season, and he only averaged 2.9 points and 2.4 rebounds during the playoffs that year. Along the way, he became a hero. And, perhaps, Troy Murphy’s role model.