Friday, June 15, 2012

How Can I Help You? Boston Celtics

Do these guys have what it takes to win another?
Now here, we have a real puzzle. After losing to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals, is it time to break up the Boston Celtics' core? Or do they have another title run in them? Who do you resign? How do you draft? We'll take a look at all of these scenarios.

Personally, I believe that Boston should keep its team together. Yes, they are old, but also extremely talented. They shocked everyone in the playoffs this year, and I think they have what it takes to do it again. The Celtics just have to be careful with who they resign and how much they resign them for.

There are only five players on the team that won't be free agents: Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley, JaJuan Johnson, and E'Twaun Moore. The first three are well know key cogs to this team, while the two rookies from Purdue may be the future of this team. Let's break down every free agent.

Keyon Dooling was a nice spark off the bench during Boston's playoff run, but it's unlikely that he will be resigned. Ray Allen, of course, is a big question mark. Allen's play declined greatly this year due to injuries. If the Celtics keep their Big 4 together, do they oust Allen and make it a Big 3 again? I have to believe that Allen will be resigned for a smaller contract. Mickael Pietrus was one of the main contributors off the bench, and he should be resigned because of his defense and three point shooting. Marquis Daniels and Sasha Pavlovic will both leave town, and I don't think too many Celtic fans will be crying because of that. Jeff Green should get a new contract after making it through his heart conditions. He'll be a big help off the bench playing both forward spots. Kevin Garnett will almost definitely be given more money. He revived his career this season and he may have a few good years left in him. Brandon Bass had a fantastic season at PF for the team, and he will likely exercise his player option to stay in Boston. Chris Wilcox, Ryan Hollins, and Sean Williams are expendable and will not be missed. The Jermaine O'Neal project will end in Boston. And finally, Greg Stiemsma will probably get brought back for his defense.

Phew. This is just too much. Now that that's all projected (obviously it's subject to change, so the accuracy of all of this is questionable), let's take a look at the Celtics' depth chart.

PG: Rajon Rondo, E'Twaun Moore
SG: Avery Bradley, Ray Allen
SF: Paul Pierce, Mickael Pietrus
PF: Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, JaJuan Johnson
C: Kevin Garnett, Greg Stiemsma

Boston has two picks in the first round (#21 and #22) and one pick in the second round (#51). In my opinion, I think the team should draft a wing scorer (specifically one for if Allen is injured or too old and to be his eventual replacement) and a defensive minded center (to back up KG and learn under him and sorry Stiemer, but your run won't last forever). And with the 51st pick, Boston should really take the best player available. Who knows, maybe they'll find a small forward that will eventually wind up succeeding Pierce? Let's see what we've got to work with.

The reason why I think taking an enforcer in the paint this high is important is because of the Celtics' previous title run. Having Kendrick Perkins down low made a huge difference against the Lakers. And when they didn't have him for Game 7 in 2010, they lost their chance at a title.

Melo will be an enforcer in the NBA.
So who to take? There are two options: Fab Melo from Syracuse and Festus Ezeli from Vanderbilt.  Melo is a defensive nightmare. His shot blocking and shot altering ability is out of this world. Plus, he's also been developing his offensive game a bit. Ezeli's size, bulk, and ability to muscle opponents down low are what makes him attractive. I like Melo here because he's a more dynamic defender.

The shooting guard pick is not as clear cut. There are actually of lot of different ways that Boston can go about this. The most intriguing scenario is having Austin Rivers, Doc Rivers' son, fall to pick #21. I doubt the Celtics would take him because the father-son relationship would complicate a lot of things, but it's some food for the thought.

There are three young men who would fit well in this position: Kevin Murphy, Khris Middleton, and Will Barton. All three have a knack for scoring. Middleton is incredibly dynamic, but injury history is a cause for concern. Barton is a wizard at attacking the basket, but needs more bulk. And Murphy is simply a pure scorer. The only problem with these guys is that selecting them this high in the draft is too much of a reach.

Evan Fournier from France could also be the pick. He has a solid scoring ability and is very clutch. His winning mentality will transfer well over to Boston.

Lamb has scoring that would be welcomed in Boston.
However, with all of these guys aside, I like Doron Lamb from Kentucky. Lamb is a great scorer and an efficient one at that, but his leadership quality cannot be ignored. He led the Wildcat freshmen to a title last year-as a sophomore. The Celtics will find just what they're looking for.

While I did say that "Best player available" is the mindset at pick #51, there's no shame if the Celtics have a SF in mind. Here are some of their options.

At small forward, while unlikely he will still be around, the most ideal selection would be Lamb's Kentucky teammate, Darius Miller. Miller is a very efficient scorer, and the Celtics picked two teammates in last year's draft, so it's not out of the question for them to do it again.

Kostas Papinkoloau from Greece is a hard working, high motor, lengthy defender who can also shoot the three ball. He would be welcomed on Boston. Jae Crowder from Marquette epitomizes hard work. It just remains to be seen if he can play on the perimeter full time in the NBA. Orlando Johnson from UCSB is a fluid athlete with a nice shooting touch. Finally, Tony Mitchell from North Texas has the tools to be a dominant player in the NBA, and he can reach his potential under Rivers and all of the Celtic vets. Out of all them, I say Papinkoloau has the best chance to make an immediate impact, but also be a part of Boston's future.

So now, let's take a look at that updated Boston depth chart.

PG: Rajon Rondo, E'Twaun Moore
SG: Avery Bradley, Ray Allen, Doron Lamb
SF: Paul Pierce, Mickael Pietrus, Kostas Papinkoloau
PF: Brandon Bass, Jeff Green, JaJuan Johnson
C: Kevin Garnett, Fab Melo, Greg Stiemsma

The team has not only improved, but now looks a lot younger. If the new guys mesh well with the Celtic's core and know their roles, Boston may have another title run left in them.

After that concoction in the lab, I'll focus next on the Atlanta Hawks, who also have a lot of figuring out to do.

No comments:

Post a Comment