The offseason was reminiscent of a storm brewing off a shoreline, that shoreline being the Boston harbor. Danny Ainge was able to collect pieces that will have the Boston Celtics in a better position than last year. This is remarkable considering last year’s team lost to the Miami Heat in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Without diving into all the other noise around the league from Nash to Brooklyn to Dwight, the Celtics took a back seat in terms of media coverage with their moves, which is okay by them. Actually, we heard more about what the Celtics lost (Ray Allen) instead of what they gained (more on this later). A lot of Celtic fans and the media were hung up on the term, Big Three. Without Ray Allen, the fans started to get worrisome that the run was over. Break ups are never easy and often times, emotions get the best of us. Let’s remove emotions and look what the change means.
Ray Allen was hurting the Celtics the past couple of years. I’ve been saying it since Kendrick Perkins left, Ray Allen required too much effort from everyone in order to get him going. This type of player doesn’t fit for the Celtics, which is why Danny refused to match Ray’s demands. Going back to the actual game play, often times, we would watch Rondo sit at the top of the key, waiting for Ray Allen to free himself from his defender by running through screens. Those screens use to be set by two of the best, Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins, but with only Kevin Garnett and a bunch of younger players who haven’t developed a good screen, Ray often struggled to get open. This style of play kept the offense stagnant, which goes against the style of play Rajon needs to be successful. We all saw the difference when Avery Bradley was inserted into the line up. The team was faster. Avery is not a three point shooter by any means but his ability to cut back door and make open jumpers helped propel the Celtics offense.
Everyone talks about Ray Allen’s three point shooting percentage last year but if you look at his Offensive Rating last year (111) it was his lowest since joining the Celtics. Also, his defensive rating was the lowest since being a member of the Boston Celtics (101). Most importantly, Ray Allen saw his Offensive Win Share drop from 5.8 to 2.5 last year, again his lowest as a Celtic.
Losing Ray Allen with his abilities for this team is not the end of the world, especially considering whom the Celtics picked up to replace Allen. The first name on the list will be Jason Terry. Here is a player who has the ability to create his own shot, something the Celtics needed from Ray Allen last year when he came off the bench. The JET will pick up the scoring slack, as he averaged 15.1 points per game in 31 minutes, opposed to Ray Allen’s 14.2 in 34 minutes. Jason will pick up the offensive slack the bench needed last year without a problem. We will see games this season where Jason carries the offense and puts up close to 30 points. In fairness to Ray, he wasn’t healthy last year which is why he had his worst season with the Celtics, however, losing him wasn’t going to make or break the 2012-2013 season.
We know the value of Avery Bradley as we can point to the Win-Loss records with and without Avery Bradley, but he will most likely be out until December the earliest with his shoulders surgeries, yes both shoulders. Without Avery, losing Ray for Jason doesn’t look all that great but what Danny was able to do by getting his hands on Courtney Lee was tremendous. Courtney Lee has always been a special perimeter defender who has never got to play in a system that emphasizes on defense with better defensive players around him to learn. Lee bounced around from Orlando to New Jersey and lastly to Houston before joining the Celtics. Only in Orlando was he with a solid group who contended in the playoffs, where Lee had a couple of big playoff games. Courtney Lee will be key for the Celtics playoff run as he will be forced to guard wings, which heavily dominate the league these days with names like Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant.
Jason Terry and Courtney Lee were the only real additions to the roster, which were added to help the absence of Ray Allen and Avery Bradley while he recovers. Danny was also able to lock in Kevin Garnett for a few more years, who found the fountain of youth when he was moved to the starting Center position last year. Boston also resigned Chris Wilcox who went out with a heart ailment last year. I was optimistic for Wilcox last year and will be even more so this year with full training camp and a roster more suitable for running the floor, as we saw Wilcox be the recipient of many alley oops from Rajon Rondo.
Lastly and surely not least, is the re-signing of Jeff Green. A lot of media members are furious with the contract amount for Jeff Green whom they believe hasn’t shown anything to deserve it. Jeff was coveted by Danny and Doc going into the 2007 draft. Jeff was a fantastic college player and was drafted by Boston but later dealt for Ray Allen. It is interesting how these moves come full circle. Back to Green, I understand the side of the debate that thinks Boston over paid for him. I also find it funny those same people will use the tradable commodity discussion for Brook Lopez but not for Jeff Green. I don’t have a problem with the contract because Boston can always package a few players to land another Star to play next to Rondo, or they can stand pat with the deep roster with a 10 man rotation of quality players. Signing Jeff Green will be another body in the rotation who can defend multiple positions and run the style of offense that Rondo needs to be successful. I am willing to give the kid a shot with the Celtics because I truly believe he can successful. I have a hard time writing off a 26 year old who should be going into his prime really soon.
As a fellow Celtic fan, I am very optimistic about this team heading into next season. The one thing we have learned over the past is every time you write this group of players off, they come right back and punch you in the nose. As Paul Pierce said in the famous 2010 NBA Commercial Stepping Up, “We never give up, It’s all about never giving in, It’s about whoever wants it the most. It’s all about having the heart of a champion.”