Last Year's Camp vs. This Year's Camp

So as training camp approaches in a couple days I thought it would be interesting to look at the state of the C's approaching last year's camp versus this year's. Last year the Celtics were the defending champs and everyone was gunning for them. They played basketball into June and celebrated their 17th banner well through the Summer. The big losses were James Posey and PJ Brown.

This year things are a little different. Gone are Leon Powe and Stephon Marbury and added to the squad are Rasheed Wallace, Marquis Daniels, and Shelden Williams.

While last year the big question was whether Tony Allen can fill Posey's shoes, this year the big question is KG's health. Will he back 100 percent? If the C's are healthy, I believe we should be more optimistic about this year's squad then last year's. I'll try to break down the teams first by the point guard position, next by the wings, and finally by the bigs.

Point Guard Position:
Going into last year's camp, Rondo was entrenched as the starting point guard. He had had a somewhat inconsistent 2nd year, but mostly had impressed. In the playoffs he had some very good games and some poor games. Going into this year's camp, Rondo really made a leap last year. He was lauded for his defense and in the playoffs, while again inconsistent, he was either great or just good. No longer were the thoughts there that the C's were better off when House was on the floor then Rondo. Rondo was our playoff MVP.

Going into last year's camp, Eddie House was the backup point guard and Sam Cassell was around as well. In the 2008 playoffs House had won his backup point guard position back from Cassell. The team just seemed to run smoother with House on the floor. Gabe Pruitt was still around, but only his family and some close friends were confident he could backup Rondo.

This year, we have added Marquis Daniels and Lester Hudson. Hudson is an unknown at this point, but Daniels has played the point before. Doc is talking about playing Daniels and House together with House guarding the 1's and Daniels the 2's. Daniels would bring up the ball (in a Grant Hill/Scottie Pippen role) and House would spot up on the wing. I'm fine with this tandem in the backcourt for reserve minutes as long as the third wing player playing with them is either Ray or Paul.

I have to believe that we are much stronger at the point this year going into camp. Rondo is much better, we still have House, and Daniels/Hudson give us more options then Cassell/Pruitt. There is always the possibility that we add another vet point guard (Carlos Arroyo?)

Last year the Celtics had all-stars at both wing positions going into camp and this year nothing has changed.  Last year Pierce and Ray were both coming off long seasons and big minutes. Pierce reportedly partied it up pretty hard in the Summer, but there was no reason to fear our starters at the 2 and 3 going into camp. Where there was doubt was with the loss of James Posey. Posey was the 6th man that all teams craved. A guy who could play multiple positions, D it up, and had been a winner. Ainge was confident that Tony Allen could fill his shoes and that was the big question. Rookies Giddens and Walker and reclamation project Darius Miles were also in the mix, but it was Tony's spot to lose.

Well Tony Allen didn't really thrive as the back-up wing to put it kindly, so Ray and Pierce (especially) logged major minutes and it took something out of them in the playoffs. While Ray had a great first round, he struggled mightily against the Magic. Pierce did not look like 2008 "out dueling Lebron" Paul, but looked tired. Did Danny fix this issue? Sort of. Marquis Daniels is around now. My major concern with Daniels is his health. He tends to get injured. He also can't shoot, but he shouldn't feel lonely in that category. Daniels, Tony, Rondo and Giddens would make a very painful entertaining game of Horse.

Daniels does do a lot of good things though, so we should feel more confident in him then we did a year ago with Tony. Speaking of Tony Allen, I loved the whole Marquis Daniels courting for two months, which consisted of Danny calling Larry every other day and asking if he would be interested in a sign and trade for Tony Allen. I guess he figured that eventually Larry might just give up and agree. My question has always been what does Tony have on Danny that made Danny give him chance after chance after chance. It was revealed this Summer when Danny finally got tired of hiding his gray hair and immediately Tony was on the market. Tony must of caught Danny in a Just for Men moment one time, but now the secret is out, so Tony is as well. Or is he? Could Tony Allen actually impress us this year now that everyone has written him off? Stranger things have happened. Thing is Tony and Marquis can't play together, so his major value will be as depth in case of an injury or as an expiring contract in a trade.

What about Giddens and Walker? Well I've seen plenty of young players tear it up in the Summer League, but then struggle in regular season games. The fact that Giddens and Walker haven't even impressed in the Summer is not a great sign. The fact that Danny has offered both in trades with no takers also doesn't produce much confidence in their contributions. Both players are great athletes, so I'll be curious to see what they do in camp.

So I'd say we're about even with where we were last year at the wing. Our starters should be more rested, but are a year older (mid 30's is like knocking on senior citizen territory for NBA stars), so that's basically a push. Daniels is most likely an upgrade over Tony, but he's injury prone (not that Tony is an ironman or anything). I still think we could use a big small forward as a back-up, but as long as Doc keeps Pierce and Ray's regular season minutes down, we should be fine. Doc really needs to take the Terry Francona "It's not a sprint, it's a marathon" approach to the next several months.

First off, I'm definitely going to miss Leon. He was essentially the 7th man on our championship squad and he was very easy to root for. He gave it his all and gave to the community. Celtics fans voted him the 6th star winner and I believe he should still be wearing green. That said we've added a lot to our bigs since last camp. Last year we lost PJ (and Posey who played the 4) and added Patrick O'Blount, which was a colossal disaster. I had wanted us to sign Birdman Anderson, but Danny saw something in POB. The main question going into last year's camp was who would back up Perk? People dreamed of Joe Smith being bought out, or the C's signing the 50 year old Mutombo or even PJ coming back at midseason. Another question was whether Glen Davis would become something. Starter wise we were set, with an MVP caliber power forward and a tough young center.

This year that young center is poised to contend for his first all star appearance, Baby is a legitimate NBA big, and we've added a dynamite 6th man in Rasheed Wallace. We lost Powe, but added Shelden Williams, who while not impressing in the NBA so far, I have a much better feeling about then POB. Will he be a star? No. But Shelden should be able to play spot minutes at the 4 and 5 and fill in some in case of an injury. We also this year have Brian Scalabrine, who finally showed me something last spring. I must admit I was a member of the "You really gave Brian Scalabrine a 5 year contract for 15 million dollars. Really?" club, but he stepped up last year in the playoffs, so he should be commended for that. He also risked a lot because of his concussion situation. Scalabrine was our 3rd big in the playoffs, which is not really his role. He's more of a 5th or 6th big, which will be his role this year. The kind of guy that doesn't play if your team is at full strength (but gives a good press conference after winning a championship), but can step in if let's say KG and Baby are banged up one night.

While Perkins made a big leap last year, we can't feel as confident about KG as we did a year ago. Besides being a year older, the elephant in the room is his knee. If KG is healthy, we're living the good life (like a Kanye West song... before he took the mic from Taylor Swift). If KG is not KG we're in trouble and not just a little trouble. If KG can't play, we are not contenders. Simple as that. If he can play, but is limited, we still have a shot. If KG is 2007/2008 KG then we're the favorites. Again, I hope Doc takes it easy with Garnett and keeps his minutes down. A rested and healthy KG going into the playoffs will send me to Foxwoods.

Between a much improved BBD and Sheed our back-up bigs will be one of our biggest strengths. I really like how Sheed will open things up for Paul and Rondo. Who do you leave if one of them tries to drive? Do you leave Ray? KG? Sheed? House?  That's a line-up I want to see. One of Pierce/Rondo with House, Ray, Sheed and KG. Someone please pass this along to Doc (On the flip side I never want to see in non garbage time Rondo, Daniels and Tony on the floor together). So in conclusion, even with the loss of my man Powe, the C's will be in much better shape at the bigs if KG is near 100%. And if he is, we're an improved team and look out NBA.