With the most exciting moments of the offseason behind us, Celtics Town is counting down the Celtics’ roster from 16 to one. We’ll offer speculation on the role each player has to play, and where they’ll be in the rotation as we look towards the upcoming season. If you missed the last column in this series you can check it out here.
I’m a big proponent of the nine-man rotation, so bear in mind that I expect the remaining members of the Roster Countdown to feature prominently in the playoffs, pending health. And health is indeed the big question mark on Chris Wilcox’s resume, the veteran big-man only played in 28 games last season before having season-ending heart surgery. If he’s able to bounce back this season he should be a valuable contributor for the Celtics’ front line, spelling Garnett at center and possibly playing some four as well. However, all this depends on whether or not he can stay on the court.
In my last column I made the assertion that Wilcox was made of glass, now I’ll back it up. Last year before his heart condition caused the Celtics to lose him over the remainder of the season Wilcox was injured three separate times, which is quite a bit for someone who only played 17 minutes per game. Over his career Wilcox has 56 injury related transactions to his name which is seven more than fellow 2002 draft member Amar’e Stoudemire (even though Wilcox has never punched a fire extinguisher so you could safely say its 10 more game related injury transactions). Considering Amar’e averaged 15 more minutes a game for his career while playing in nearly 80 more games, this does not speak well for Wilcox’s durability. If you’re wondering why I’m picking on STAT, it’s because his knees are so bad at this point they’re uninsurable. Chris Wilcox is injured more often than that guy. Yeah. Oh, and over the past five years Wilcox has only played in 50% of his teams possible games once.
On the other hand, when Wilcox is healthy he’s exactly what this team needs. Wilcox will help with this teams rebounding problem, he averaged 4.4 rebounds in his 17 minutes a game last year, which is just a shade under Garnett’s rebound per minute numbers. He’s also got a little bit of a post game, which the Celtics also missed down the stretch. However, Wilcox’s greatest asset is his ability to finish in transition. Wilcox was the first player to really come on as a running partner for Rondo last year, in part because of his blistering speed for a big man. So how fast is Chris Wilcox? His 3.16 second 3/4 court sprint is .02 seconds slower than Avery Bradley’s, not bad considering he weighs 50 pounds more than the young Celtics guard. For the sake of comparison, he’s a tenth of a second faster than Amar’e, and more than half a second faster than Jared Sullinger, which is pretty substantial given the relatively short length of a basketball court. Wilcox is an extremely good finisher around the basket so we can look forward to a lot more of this, and a lot less of this.
Wilcox was a favorite of mine last year, and after his performance in limited minutes and chemistry with Rondo he’s a virtual lock to be the premiere big-man off the bench. But this year he doesn’t have Stiemsma behind him, he has the Celtics’ future in Jared Sullinger, who will be hungry for minutes and a larger role. If Chris Wilcox wants to hold on to his spot in the rotation, first he’ll have to stay on the floor. After being frustrated with his own absence during the post-season, Wilcox has a lot of motivation coming into this year and I believe he’ll find the balance between his electrifying play and keeping himself healthy enough for the playoffs. I just wouldn’t bank on him playing 82 games.
You can follow Jordan on Twitter, @OffensiveG.