Oh what a difference a year makes. Or in this case what a difference a few months can make.
It's no secret that the Celtics completely re-made their bench this off-season, but I think it's worth a closer look at just how incredible a transformation it was. Last season, before Avery Bradley went down against the Sixers, the C's had transitioned to Rondo/Bradley/Pierce/Bass/Garnett, which left the following players on the bench:
- Ray Allen
- Mickael Pietrus
- Keyon Dooling
- Ryan Hollins
- Greg Stiemsma
- Marquis Daniels
- Sasha Pavlovic
- E'Twaun Moore
- Jujuan Johnson
- Sean Williams
Question: Can anyone tell me the one thing that all ten of these guys have in common?
Answer: None of them are back this season.
Of course Dooling was re-signed by the Green before deciding to retire and end his 11-year career, but in general Danny made a clear decision this off-season to completely, and I mean 100% completely, revamp the bench. And it's not difficult to see why, in last year's playoff run the bench produced the following numbers over 20 games:
The bench had it's moments (Pietrus in Game 5 vs Miami, Dooling had several key buckets/defensive stops, Ray had a few decent scoring outputs) but in general the team just couldn't count on the second unit. This showed even more than usual in Game 7 against the Heat when the Celts got just 2 points and 4 rebounds in 39 minutes of combined action from the bench. Just not good enough.
Danny Ainge 1; Rest of NBA: 0
Thankfully for us, Danny acted accordingly. $36 million over four years for Jeff Green, $15 mill to bring the JET over from Dallas, and a 4 year, $21.5 million dollar deal for Courtney Lee will give the Celts perhaps the best bench trio in the NBA once Avery Bradley returns to the starting line-up in December. And it doesn't stop there, in fact it could also be argued that the Celtics have compiled the deepest bench in the league. How can a bench be both top heavy and deep you ask? Let's take a look at some frighteningly good numbers, shall we?
- Leandro Barbosa: 18.2 Points per 36 minutes in his career
- Jason Terry: 17.3 P/36
- Chris Wilcox: 15.2 P/36
- Brandon Bass: 14.9 P/36 (If Bass starts this will be Sully's spot..and I think we can all agree he can fill it up)
- Jeff Green: 14.8 P/36
- Courtney Lee: 13.2 P/36
That's right, the Celtics have 6 players on their bench who have averaged 13+ points per 36 minutes over their NBA careers. Of course all of these guys won't average the number of minutes necessary to put up these numbers, but the Celtics have more options to turn to on night's the starters just don't have it, and also more firepower in the event of an injury.
And this bench is not a one sided unit. One of the best aspects of Danny's bench transformation is the defensive versatility the new guys gives the team. Last season the Green were (quite literally) defenseless when the Heat went small with Chalmers, Wade, Battier, Lebron and Bosh. This five-some beat up on the Celtics to the tune of a +40 scoring output over the final three games of the series after Bosh returned from injury, and it was easy to see why. With a lack of bench options the Celtics were often stuck with Brandon Bass covering Lebron. As hard as Bass fought, he cannot win that battle consistently. This season the C's will have no such issue as Jeff Green gives them the wing guarding bench option they haven't truly had since James Posey cashed in with the Hornets back in '08.
As we continue to count down the days until tip-off, I think it's important that we salute Danny for the incredible job he's done in retooling this club from top to bottom. There's no better executive in the league and his re-furnishing of the bench mob proves that once again.
First article for CelticsLife, thrilled to be part of the team. Follow me at Mike_Dyer13