Scattered Roster Thoughts

Thinking positively for a moment, and yes that has been a bit of a challenge recently, a healthy squad will run a bit deeper than Doc’s normal playoff rotation. This is mostly due to age and health. With the Big Three all pushing into the twilight of their careers, the Celtics are best served if they can play well below the 40 minute plus that has been the standard for Rivers’ leading players during the second season. In addition, the center spot is manned by a crew whose headlines, at least for this season, have been more noteworthy for their diagnoses than their play. Finally our energizer bunny, Rajon Rondo, has endured his own laundry list of infirmities this year and it appears that it will be necessary to avoid running him into the ground if we want more energizer than bunny. With these limitations in mind, a reasonable (and probably most effective) minutes allocation during the playoffs will likely look something like this:

C*-------Shaq 12-20, Jermaine 12-20, Nenad 15-25, Davis 5-10
PF-------Garnett 30-34, Davis 14-20, Green 5-10
SF-------Pierce 35-37, Green 11-13
SG-------Allen 35-37, Green 10-12, West 5-15
PG-------Rondo 38-40, West 8-10

Note the asterisk for the centers. I expect the most fluctuation at this position with the availability of either or both O’Neal’s being rather spotty. In general the less Davis is forced into the five position, the better, as it has a deleterious ripple making Green less available to relieve the wings. This forces West into backup SG; and while he plays “up” with great intensity, having the 6’3” Delonte at wing rather than Jeff at 6’9” makes the C’s lineup significantly smaller.

It occurs to me that if you accept the premise that basketball players are in their prime between the ages of 26 and 28, the Celtics’ only players in the playoff rotation and in their “prime” will be Nenad Krstic and Delonte West. Wafer and Pavlovic also hit this sweet spot on the age chart but are not likely to be key contributors. Rondo and Davis will be 25 and Green will turn 25 in July. All the other major contributors will be, well let’s just say they will be somewhat past their prime physically.

This next thought is one for the regular season, hopefully with no bearing on the playoffs, I believe the first time that a healthy, eligible player was in street clothes at a game was last Thursday in San Antonio.
Think about that for a moment. Through seventy-three games over five months, the Green Team never had an available player sidelined by the inactive list. For the season it seems likely that the number of times they had 10 or fewer players suited up will far outnumber the times available players sat on the inactive list. Doc won’t get any mention for coach of the year but his guiding this collection of walking wounded to a 70% win record is little short of amazing.

For those of you still taking potshots at Ainge for the Perkins’ trade, if Danny doesn’t add five healthy bodies, the Celtics would have played one week, maybe several, with one to three players available on the bench. If you think the Core Four have been gassed recently (as I do), imagine how exhausted they would be if the only subs had been Nate, Luke, and Bradley—for weeks on end! This isn’t revisionist history. Semih has played exactly one game for Cleveland before being shut down. Nate finally returned from knee surgery, to log one minute last Wednesday, his only minute in the five games OKC played in the past week. Perkins didn’t play for three weeks after the trade. Still on the C’s, Von Wafer and Delonte West missed most of March with bad wheels, as did JO and Shaq. Heck the Celtics are lucky they haven’t had to forfeit games due to being unable to field five players for tipoff.

Speaking of decimated troops, is there really a downside to allowing teams that don’t have 12 players physically able to perform, exceeding their roster limit by adding 10-day contracts from the D-league? It is not like they are gaining a competitive advantage by adding players who can’t make an NBA team. It does protect veterans who are pushed into playing hurt, and/or getting injured by playing tired for a team that is depleted. Other than degrading the NBDL product, what is the problem?  D-leaguers get a cameo showcase in the big show, vets are protected from mis/over use, teams get a chance to heal. Yeah but Stern is looking out for everybody. Right.