The great Bob Ryan wrote a fine piece in the Boston Globe today discussing Boston’s title chances. During his piece, he briefly touched on a few flaws that could haunt the C’s this year. I expand below:
Jermaine O’Neal is the only center. Brandon Bass, who’s all of 6-8, will probably be JO’s primary backup. Chris Wilcox, another power forward, should contribute minutes in the pivot. And Kevin Garnett may need to don his center apparel for long stretches at a time, an experiment that would be at least slightly fear-inducing (for most parties involved, but especially for Celtics fans and Channing Frye’s private parts). All of which begs the question: “Yo Scott Pollard, you in good shape?”
The Dallas Mavericks showed last season how crucial bench shooting can be. With all due respect to Keyon Dooling, who isn’t a particularly bad shooter, and E’Twaun Moore, who can stroke the perimeter J if he ever gets minutes, the Celtics won’t bring a single knockdown three-point shooter off the bench. Brandon Bass can hit mid-range jumpers and the Celtics will try to make up for their lack of shooting with a professional crew of reserves that should come ready to play each night. But I thought we learned this lesson last season while watching a slew of missed jumpers: Bench. Shooting. Is. Quite. Important. And Sasha Pavlocic isn’t the answer.
The burden on Rajon Rondo
Once upon a time, Paul Pierce was one of the best one-on-one players in the NBA, Kevin Garnett was athletic enough to release a deadly fadeaway jumper from the block whenever he wanted to and Ray Allen, despite his reputation as the purest shooter in the land, could create off the bounce and inspire plays rather than merely finish them. But youth is 1997 Barry Sanders; it’s upon you briefly and then leaves you staring from behind after it passes you by, never to return again. As the Big Three advanced in age their skills began to diminish. Those skills should evaporate even further this season, likely leaving Rajon Rondo with a bigger burden than ever. He’s the only consistent shot creator on a primarily jump shooting team.
P.S. — It would be nice if Rondo could consistently knock down elbow jumpers, or at least improve his free throw percentage out of “the seven-footer zone.” Not that I see either of those things happening.
The starting lineup features a 33-year old, 34-year old, 35-year old and 36-year old. And the 33-year old is Jermaine O’Neal. And the C’s will play 66 games in 120 days. I definitely don’t foresee a rash of injuries. I mean, it’s not like Pierce and Rondo already hurt themselves or anything. Wait…
Who’s the backup shooting guard?
Avery Bradley? E’Twaun Moore? Sasha Pavlovic? Do you trust any of those dudes? I didn’t think so.
The problem that just won’t go away, and the Celtics did little to change things. Last season, Brandon Bass was (very slightly) better than Glen Davis and Chris Wilcox was (oddly enough) better than Shaq. But Greg Stiemsma wasn’t a great rebounder at the D-League level, JaJuan Johnson wasn’t a great rebounder at the college level, Jeff Green (let’s hope he’s healthy) wouldn’t be a great rebounder at the nursery school level, and Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal are both a year older. On a positive note, Bill Russell’s a free agent.
I liked Danny Ainge’s moves this offseason. He did a lot with very little, all while maintaining flexibility. But the Celtics still have some glaring issues they will need to overcome.