Summer Quandaries #57
September 27—1st day of camp
Media Day Is Boring, What’s Next?
Needless to say this is not a favorite day of mine. All this pent up hunger and all they do is stand around and take pictures and answer fluff questions? I’m sure there will be some nice quotable lines but the truth is that any real news will not come until they hit the floor tomorrow. Then there will be about a million observations, some actual concerns, some real things about which to be excited. Until then, way too much rehashing of old news. All this set me to thinking. With all the new pieces and talents, what do the Celtics still lack?
A stretch four/five--with NBA athletes so large, athletic, and fast, the spacing of the court has become more and more of an issue. Between your two big men ideally you have a genuine post threat and an outside threat. A big man that can hit the 15-18 footer is good, but if he can shoot effectively from the 3-point line then it puts an enormous amount of pressure on the defense. That was the allure of Rasheed Wallace. Unfortunately his effective long range shooting was all in the past. This year’s team should have a more effective post attack than in any season thus far in the New Big Three era. Range?--Davis is good to 16’, Garnett to 18’, but there is no 3-point big man to draw the paint defenders so far outside that recovering to seal the lane and rebound is nearly impossible.
A power three—Danny’s been looking for this player for five years. He’s still looking. With more and more teams sporting a small forward running to 6’10” or taller, the Celtics frequently find themselves with a distinct size disadvantage. Fortunately Pierce’s strength allows him to defend these oversized swingmen fairly effectively. This role is Tony Gaffney’s best chance to make the team since while not 6-10 he is a long 6’9” in shoes.
A big PG—ever since Magic Johnson brought to the game his lofty view of the court and nearly one foot edge in posting up the opposing small men, scouts and GM’s have been on the lookout for another with such advantages. They are still looking three decades later. The closest was probably Shaun Livingston whose 6’7” frame, handle, and passing skills made him such a promising player until he destroyed his knee. Jason Kidd has been the best example for the last 15 years and he is “only” 6’5”.
The uber-athlete—the Celtics’ contenders have been Gerald Green (no brain) and Tony Allen (subject to brain farts and before the knee injury). Such athletes, if they have game, are usually top three picks, something the Celtics haven’t had since the death of Len Bias. Garnett would count but the C’s only got him well into his 30’s. Don’t expect this missing ingredient to arrive any time soon.
All these are rare commodities. Don’t expect any of them to show up on the Celtics’ doorstep. However, this year, for the first time in decades, there is some reason to hope that the depth and quality of the squad might offer some opportunities. If everything falls into place (head cases behave, immature players grow up, rookies develop, olé defenders become pit bulls) there might be a chance to turn redundant quality into upgrade at need. To me this is one of the most interesting side plots of camp and the early season.