The Fountain of Youth
The knock on this Boston Celtics team over the past few seasons has been that they’ve gone way passed their expiration date. The same Celtics teams have been put out each year featuring the big three and Rondo running them. Its been said that they move too slow, they can’t keep up with the Miami Heat, and that they’ll drop out of the Eastern Conference race soon enough. They’ve been able to defy those assumptions over the last three to four years.
With Ray Allen, Paul Piece, and Kevin Garnett all together, they’ve been to two NBA Finals, won one of them, and been to three Eastern Conference Championships while winning two of those. Relative to the absolute failures that the Celtics franchise has seen over the past few decades, that should be considered a pretty successful run–which by most standards it is.
Now, with Ray Allen out of the picture because of his departure to the rival Miami Heat, the Celtics have been forced to drink from the fountain of youth and add extra pieces to keep their well-oiled machine going. They were already easing Allen out of Boston when Avery Bradley was deemed the starter. Bradley’s ability to defend both guard positions was highly valued by Doc Rivers toward the end of the season. Especially with Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass being able to space the floor with their mid-range jump shots. It was very hard for teams to bludgeon the paint even with Allen playing less minutes than usual.
The Celtics have been creating a different formula to win since the offseason began. They started off by extending Kevin Garnett for a deal that stretches through the 2014 season for about $36 million. They also signed Jason Terry to a deal that’s worth about $6 million over the next three years. They retained Brandon Bass with a three year deal worth about $20 million and also signed Courtney Lee, a three point specialist, for 4 years and about $20 million as well.
Jeff Green’s contract was extended for about $40 Million over the next four years as well. They expect Green to step into whatever role they expect him to play and play it well enough to eventually earn a starting job once its time to phase Paul Pierce out. They’re preparing themselves for a transition into being a younger, more active team rather than one that thrives in the half court. They’re planning on turning this team over to Rajon Rondo in the next few years, and right now his specialty would be in the open floor. They’ve brought in more players who are able to perform with him there than they’ve had on this roster in a while.
The Celtics also drafted Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Both players may not see significant minutes initially because of their lack of experience and the depth that the Celtics have in their front court positions. However, with them being able to learn from a veteran stalwart like Kevin Garnett sets them up very well for the future. The Celtics could have plenty of assets by the time 2014 rolls around. They’re preparing to move on from the team that had so much success over the last few years to a team that could be even better if everyone pans out the way that they should. Especially with a basketball-savvy leader like Rajon Rondo.
Becoming the Head
This is now Rajon Rondo’s team, as I said before. They’re trying to phase into a team that he’ll be more comfortable playing with. As we all know by now, he and Ray Allen were having problems off of the court. Those issues were rooted from Rondo’s growing role on the court. Allen was starting to be phased out of the team’s picture because of the chemistry that Rondo and Bradley had eventually developed. Rondo’s growing clout within the organization had a lot to do with why the Celtics didn’t go all-out for Ray Allen, and that’s understandable.
Now, the Celtics have gone from only having two good shooting guards to three and a possible fourth with the addition of either Dionte Christmas or Kris Joseph. Rondo will have many various weapons at his disposal along with having Pierce and Garnett to play the same roles that they have over the passed few years for him.
The Celtics have set this transition up smoothly for Rondo, and he seems to be accepting it. When he first became a Boston Celtic, the book on him was that he was very hard to work with. He had a hard head and a quick temper–listening wasn’t his strong point either. He wasn’t coachable and wouldn’t last very long in the NBA because of his shaky jump shot. Once Doc Rivers got his hands on Rajon, things changed. You could tell that the presence of the Big Three and Rivers had a huge impact on who Rajon was as a player.
He was always open to learning something from the four future Hall of Famers. The perfect example was when Ray Allen first came to Boston, Rondo didn’t have a pregame routine. Rondo would copy Ray’s routine–he’d come to the gym with him hours before hand just to get up some jump shots. Eventually, that had stopped because of reasons that we don’t know. Whether their relationship soured at that point or that just wasn’t the routine for Rajon, he stopped coming.
He learned how to become his own man from watching those three play the game. He learned how to be a lead guard–controlling the offense was his thing. He knows where all other nine players are on the floor and he knows how his four teammates will be defended. Rondo perfectly plays to their strengths and gets them the ball in the most opportune spots.
Rondo’s continued maturity developed him into an All-Star and, eventually, the team leader of the Boston Celtics. Never did we think the days would come that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett would say that this is Rondo’s team. But they’re here–and they happily accept it, too.
I’ve actually touched on this subject before on Hardwood Houdini. The dynamic of the Boston Celtics roster is interesting. They have a lot of depth, but some of the players may not get to play because of their lack of experience and Doc River’s coaching style. Giving the roster another look, it think it’ll be somewhat similar to the work I did on Hardwood Houdini. Either Kris Joseph or Dionte Christmas will be left off the team, so for now they’ll both be excluded until one of them makes it.
Rajon Rondo- 37.5 Mpg
Avery Bradley- 33.2 Mpg
Paul Pierce- 30.4 Mpg
Brandon Bass- 33.5 Mpg
Kevin Garnett- 35.3 Mpg
Jeff Green- 30.1 Mpg
Jason Terry- 23.7 Mpg
Courtney Lee- 22.1 Mpg
Keyon Dooling- 18.2 Mpg
Jared Sullinger- 22.9 Mpg
Fab Melo- 18.2 Mpg
Chris Wilcox- 20.3 Mpg
Jason Collins- 12.3 Mpg
I think that the Boston Celtics roster has been upgraded in one of its weaker positions–shooting guard. That’s what they were missing during last season’s playoff run and they’re trying to make sure that they don’t go through that again. With a new style of play, I expect for the transition to be a bit rough to begin with. Ray Allen may have been phased out, but his presence still was key. If they can’t get any type of consistency out of Lee and Terry as spot up shooters, look for the C’s to struggle. I believe they will though and they’ll be right back in the championship hunt next season.