This is a series of posts which highlight each key player in the Celtics’ run towards banner 18. It will highlight the areas of their game they need to improve most for the Celtics to be able to compete with the talent-blitzed teams of 2012-13. The area will sometimes be a player’s biggest flaw, or sometimes his biggest strength, but each post will highlight what this Celtics team needs players to change this season for the Celtics to have success.
Chris Wilcox was finally getting into the flow of the offense right as he went down for the rest of the season with a heart problem. He was sprinting back on defense and the first one to start the break on offense, using his athleticism to aid the Celtics in whatever way possible.
On paper he can quickly fall into the big man rotation for the Celtics again this season, since he is quick, athletic and finished second on the Celtics last year with 9.1 rebounds per 36 minutes (Sean Williams was first with just over ten). My friend Jordan has already done a fantastic piece on Chris Wilcox which outlines what he currently brings to the C’s. I would like to expand on it by offering where Wilcox needs to take his game next: rim protection.
With Greg Stiemsma’s departure the Celtics lost a solid back-up center, but also someone opposing guards feared–they had to think twice before throwing up a lazy floater or layup. As over-hyped as the storyline is, KG is getting older and his bouncy knees will continue to deteriorate. The Celtics need someone besides KG to protect the rim, and Wilcox is the natural fit, especially considering that Jason Collins isn’t good enough to get serious minutes and Fab Melo is the definition of a “five year big man project.” Wilcox has the explosiveness in his legs to spring up and block shots, but his overall help defense and awareness need some work.
Many aspects go into a blocked shot–sometimes it is individual effort in man-to-man defense, but more often times the blocked or altered shot comes from help defense. Wilcox’s overall help defense needs to be much quicker and more decisive. He doesn’t have to be in the top 10 for blocks at the end of the season (editor’s note: let’s hope not) or to earn a starting spot for the Celts to be a better team (editor’s note: phew). What is far more important and valuable is CW owning the rim and beginning to intimidate opponents in the process. Think KG’s attitude, the “you might score, but then I’ll go Mike Tyson on your ear” mentality. Obviously comparing intensity and scariness to KG is a lofty goal, but a couple of tough looks after Wilcox sends the ball into the first row would be much appreciated. One of the biggest holes on this team is the lack of a true center to rebound and block shots. Wilcox has the ability to put a second-unit band-aid on the problem this season, but he’ll need to undergo a transformation first.