Boston Celtics: The Big Green Machine

We'll be back and better than ever!

Archive for May, 2009

2009 NBA Mock Draft – Version 2.0

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 31, 2009

Draft 09

A week and a half after publishing Version 1.0, it’s time to edit the first round of the draft. There will be many picks that don’t change, but there are definitely some risers and fallers and that will be depicted in this version.

1. Los Angeles Clippers – Blake Griffin, F, Oklahoma

This is a no-brainer pick. He has been the #1 pick in this draft since last November and has won every Player of the Year award you can think of. I’ve already posted my thoughts on this pick for the Clippers, so I won’t go over it again. He’s got the potential to be a top power forward in the league in a few years, but also if he doesn’t develop much of an offensive game, could have already plateud. I don’t expect that to happen, so he will develop into a very good, borderline great, power forward in the league.

2. Memphis Grizzlies – Ricky Rubio, G, Spain

Rubio’s agent has already said they will do what they can to avoid him going to either Memphis or Oklahoma City, but the same agent tried to do this with Yi last year and failed. Ultimately, I think Rubio decides to play for whoever takes him and Memphis, with the #2 pick, should take the 2nd best talent on the board. People widely consider Rubio and Thabeet to round out the top-3 with Griffin, but I could see Memphis consider Jordan Hill at this pick if they do not want to stunt the growth of Mike Conley, Jr. In the end, Rubio is the pick and should embrace the chance to play with OJ Mayo and Rudy Gay.

Memphis’ brass has been over in Spain interviewing this kid and Marc Gasol, fellow Spaniard, has talked to him as well and it seems as if Rubio is coming around to the idea of being in Memphis.

3. Oklahoma City Thunder – Hasheem Thabeet, C, Connecticut

The Thunder have many holes and are not in a position to draft by, well, position. Other than Westbrook, Durant and Jeff Green have solidified their spots on this team. Nenad Krstic was a nice pickup last year, but he’s not a center you would want to build around. Thabeet would give them an instant upgrade in the defense department and if his offense ever comes around, he could become a really nice player. He must bulk up, but who in the draft doesn’t? Also considered James Harden and DeMar DeRozan at this spot.

Read the rest of this entry »

Advertisements

Posted in 2009, Draft | 7 Comments »

Dwight Drives Magic Past Cavs Into Finals

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 30, 2009

87746201FM006_CAVALIERS_MAGIC

Looks like Nike will have to put the MVPuppet commercials on hold until next season. Either that or they better come up with a new commercial where LeBron James’ puppet is watching Kobe Bryant play in the NBA Finals against the Orlando Magic.

After going up 3-1 in the series, the Orlando Magic dropped Game 5 in Cleveland and all the pressure was squarely on Dwight Howard and the Magic to seal the deal at home rather than face a do-or-die Game 7 in Cleveland. Game 6 belonged to Dwight Howard and the Magic right from the beginning.

Dwight Howard showed the world in this series that maybe he belongs to be mentioned in the same breathe as Kobe and LeBron for best player in the league. This is a very different outlook on Dwight coming off a sub-par series against Boston. The fact is that Cleveland doesn’t have a big man like Kendrick Perkins that can hold his ground and can almost keep up with Dwight athletically in the post. This weakness of the Cavaliers was exploited all series and was a huge reason why the Magic will be playing for an NBA title.

The main offensive play for the Eastern Conference champions on this night was to get the rock to Dwight on the post. From there, he would go to work in the paint if he was single-teamed. If the double-team came, he would kick to the open shooter. If the Cavs were closing out on the first shooter, the ball movement was impeccable around the perimeter and ended up with either an open three from the corner or a huge lane to the rim. Funny to think that the NBA’s Coach of the Year couldn’t figure out a way to stop it. Perhaps the only way to stop that sort of offense is for the Magic shooters to miss their jumpers. Fortunately for the team in blue, that wasn’t the case tonight.

Orlando finished the game 12-29 from deep, four of which came from super-sub Mickael Pietrus. Pietrus finished the game with 14 points, once again out-scoring Cleveland’s entire bench. Rafter Alston, Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkoglu knocked down the other eight three-pointers to keep the defense honest on the man of the night, Dwight Howard.

Starting from the first minutes of the game, Howard was too much for the Cavaliers to handle. This was the first game where I really saw the fire and desire from the Defensive Player of the Year to put the Magic on his back and will the team to a huge win. Howard poured in a career playoff-high 40 points on 14-21 shooting (edited for Dwight’s three at the end of the game). On top of that, he hauled in 14 rebounds and also dished out four assists. Although he only had one block, he deterred many other shots and his height and length was enough to bother Cleveland’s drives to the hoop.

LeBron James, the second best player in the league, failed to reach the NBA Finals once again after leading the Cavs to the league’s best regular season record as well as series sweeps against Detroit and Atlanta. Other than the Boston Celtics, it seems like Cleveland and Orlando will be on a collision course to meet in the Eastern Conference Finals on a yearly basis, assuming James stays in Cleveland in 2010.

Posted in 2009, Game Analysis, Playoffs | 1 Comment »

Free Agent Frenzy – Who Do We Want?

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 29, 2009

After a disappointing end to the 2008-2009 season, it didn’t take long for Celtics’ fans to scour the free agent list for this off-season’s newest additions. Our key needs are a backup center (because you can never have too many), a backup small forward (to relieve Paul Pierce’s tired legs) and a veteran point guard to run the second unit. For a list of the free agents this off-season, check out this site.

There is a short “Most Wanted List” started by the great community over at CelticsBlog. These are the free agents that the fans want most to dawn the Celtics green. If these players want to play in Boston, they would be the selection over any other free agents available (in our opinion). The list consists of five players: Grant Hill, Marcin Gortat, Chris Anderson, Antonio McDyess, Rasheed Wallace. Hill would be a good small forward off the bench, while the other four are clearly the big men we could use, especially if Glen Davis and Leon Powe aren’t re-signed. Let’s take a look at some free agents, not on the Most Wanted List, by position, starting with the big men.

Zaza Pachulia – A 6’11” center from Georgia (the country) who played his last four seasons in Atlanta. Whenever the Celtics played against the Hawks, I hated Zaza, but definitely can appreciate what he would bring to our bench. He’s got ideal size and a pretty good rebounder, making the transition from Perkins to our backup center that much less painful. He has backed up Al Horford for the past two seasons, and could be looking for a starting gig. If not, we could try to lure him here. Only thing that could stop that is his price tag.

Hakim Warrick – At 6’9″, Warrick would not be an effective backup center, but could easily fill in the role of Leon Powe off the bench. He brings great energy and attacks the rim just as hard. Being a restricted free agent, Memphis could match any offer towards Warrick, meaning Boston may have to overpay to get him. That’s not something we are capable of doing, so this could be a long-shot.

Joe Smith – Before Mikki Moore, Smith was the target Danny Ainge had his eyes on first. After his trade to New Orleans was rescinded, there was talk that he wouldn’t be bought out of his contract. When Moore was bought out, Ainge couldn’t wait around hoping Smith would be available, so he jumped at bringing him in. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as well as we would have liked. Joe Smith doesn’t have the athleticism as Moore, but is a much better defender and has a more consistent jumpshot that he’s willing to take. He’s got good hands when cutting through the lane and can still flush it from time to time.

There are some viable, backup small forwards among the litter, so if Grant Hill were not to come to Boston, I would be happy/satisfied with any of the following:

Matt Barnes – Barnes is a good, tenacious defender and is a capable scorer on the wing. He can shoot the three, slash to the bucket and even post up when he’s feeling like being a bully. His energy is something that can be contagious, ala Eddie House and Leon Powe. Picking up Barnes would definitely help reduce the minutes Pierce plays in the regular season.

Josh Childress – Everyone knows that Childress went to Greece last season, but is looking at a return to the NBA. If he does return, Atlanta still has the rights to match any offer he receives. Add to that the fact that Marvin Williams is a free agent, I believe the Hawks would only match one of the two. Personally, I think ATL lets Childress go (with a fight, of course) and keeps the younger Williams. Childress would be a player I would give the full MLE to over three years, but I’m sure his agent will push for at least four, probably five years. Childress would be a perfect 6th man and leader of the 2nd unit.

Von Wafer – More of a shooting guard than a small forward, but still could add depth and reduce minutes for Ray and Paul. Wafer is a straight scorer, plain and simple. He’s not going to do much else, but if he could improve his defense a bit, he’d be a nice addition to the bench. Wafer would be more of a last resort if we couldn’t get anyone better.

Backup point guard has been a position of importance for the past two seasons. Sam Cassell played well for us two seasons ago down the stretch while Stephon Marbury struggled for us this year. Who is a possibility for us this time around?

Anthony Carter – Coming off the bench behind Chauncey Billups in Denver, Carter brings great defense and a viable shooter to the bench. He reminds me a bit of Lindsey Hunter, and that’s never really a bad thing. Personally, I see him staying in Denver, but nonetheless, still worth a look.

Ramon Sessions – Played great for the Bucks as a 2nd round pick the last two seasons. He doesn’t have any resemblance of a three-point shot, but is a crafty scorer and a willing passer. He’d be an ideal backup point guard for a championship team. Whether or not he would allow himself to come off the bench is another question. I really couldn’t tell you how much he could command as a free agent, but I think I would give him $7.5 million over three years and be very happy about it.

Stephon Marbury – You had to know this was coming. Marbury showed flashes that he can still score and distribute the ball, but he was WAY too hesitant to pull out the inner Starbury inside. In fact, you could even say he was too much of a team player for his own good. I think an entire off-season with the Celtics and he could find his niche with the team. But if a team offers him a starting spot anywhere in the league, better believe he’s packing his bags.

Jarrett Jack – Viable bench point guard and, although restricted, could be had at a low price, in my opinion. The Pacers already have TJ Ford and, according to my mock draft, will be drafting a point guard in the first round. Perhaps we get lucky and Indiana doesn’t match an offer for JJ, giving us a little help at the point position.

So there’s a quick list of 15 free agents that I think the Celtics should pursue in one way or another. If we could grab two off of the Most Wanted List, I think Celtic Nation (is that copywrited yet?) would be ecstatic. If we weren’t able to snag any of those top-5 targets, I think we could still salvage the off-season with the 2nd tier options. Pairing them up with the best starting unit in the league and a couple decent bench veterans would prepare us for another run at a title.

Posted in 2009, Offseason, Players | Leave a Comment »

Roster Review: Bill Walker

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 28, 2009

Bill Walker

After purchasing a second round pick in last year’s draft, Danny Ainge spend it on a freakish athlete that has already had major knee surgery. Doesn’t sound like a great use of the pick, does it?

Bill Walker was a highly touted recruit out of high school and teammate of the famous (or some would say infamous) OJ Mayo. When Walker was a freshman at Kansas State, he ruptured his ACL and was done for the season. This was now the second time he had had major surgery on that knee in his life. Walker returned to the court the next season with super freshman Michael Beasley and carried Kansas State into the NCAA tournament. At season’s end, Walker, along with Beasley, announced their entry into the NBA draft.

Ainge traded back in the draft to get Walker, and I think many Celtic fans were excited about the pick. He’s a great athlete, a competitor and a strong finisher at the rim. He would fit in nicely at backup small forward and, when the Big Three are gone, would hopefully be able to step into a star-role with Rondo.

This season, Bill Walker didn’t see much playing time other than in mop-up duty. In those situations, most players on the floor, namely Eddie House and Tony Allen, were looking for their own shots and weren’t necessarily trying to get Bill Walker a look unless it was an alley-oop. Bill didn’t exactly look to do anything else other than make it on SportsCenter at every opportunity. But when you’re in a game that has been locked up for most of the fourth quarter, can you really blame him?

Just like JR Giddens could give Ray Allen some rest if he becomes worthy of playing time, Bill Walker could do the same for Paul Pierce. We saw this postseason that Paul was gassed and had nothing left in the tank. If Walker, who is MUCH closer to carving out consistent minutes than Giddens, picks up his defensive, and all-around, basketball knowledge, I believe we will see much more of him next season.

My first suggestion for Bill: find out who Glen Davis worked with this summer and develop a very consistent mid-range jump shot. Michael Beasley had said late this season that people don’t know about Bill Walker, especially his jump shot. He’s got the strength and athleticism to excel as a slasher in the league, so adding a nice jump shot would make him a very difficult guard.  Once he gets that down, he, as well as JR Giddens, needs to desperately increase his knowledge of the Celtics’ defensive schemes.

Bill Walker has the mentality that he belongs in the NBA and he isn’t afraid of anyone. He’s ready to compete with the best the league has to offer (ask Tracy McGrady and Ron Artest) and doesn’t back down. With that sense of belonging and competitive nature, once he gets to the point where he can just play rather than think about what he should be doing, he’ll be a good, possibly great, player in the league. If he starts taking big steps forward, playing with a premiere point guard like Rajon Rondo will only make it easier for him to wreak havoc on opponents.

Roster Reviews: JR Giddens

Posted in 2009, Offseason, Players | 2 Comments »

Perkins, Rondo No-Go For Team USA, Big Baby Committed

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 27, 2009

Perk Rondo

From Boston.com:

Several sources close to the situation said yesterday that Kendrick Perkins and Rajon Rondo would not participate in USA Basketball’s minicamp in Las Vegas because of Perkins’s wedding July 25 in Houston.

The USA Basketball mini-camp includes a meeting July 22, practice July 23-24, and an intrasquad scrimmage July 25.

Perkins is marrying his longtime girlfriend and Rondo is one of the groomsmen.

Perkins and Rondo originally thought the minicamp was in June, but after recently learning the actual date, they had representatives contact USA Basketball to turn down the invitation.

By not participating, Perkins and Rondo will have a hard time getting serious consideration to play for the US in the 2010 World Championships in Turkey and the 2012 London Olympics.

Celtics forward Glen Davis, however, will take part in the minicamp despite being invited to Perkins’s wedding.

Perk and Rondo can’t be serious? Do they not have their priorities straight? I mean this is Team USA basketball, the world’s greatest collection of basketball talent the world has to offer!

Ok, ok… I’m just joking on that one. I think it’s great that Perkins and his long time girlfriend will be tieing the knot. Even better is that Rondo is a part of the ceremony, only helping the chemistry between these two young building blocks for the franchise’s future. I hope Kendrick and his wife the best and hope everything works out. I also hope Rondo a great time perhaps crashing the wedding from the inside.

As for Glen Davis, you have to admire his decision to stick with Team USA, but to spurn your friend’s marriage is a tough decision. Obviously everyone has their own agendas and you can’t fault him for it. I hope Glen Davis can continue to make a name for himself in the league, but I don’t think he has a snowball’s chance in Hell to make the 2012 team in London.

Posted in 2009, News, Players | 1 Comment »

Marbury To Wizards?

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 27, 2009

Marbury2

From RealGM.com:

Stephon Marbury, according to a source, was contacting Flip Saunders almost on a daily basis during the postseason and there is a chance that he could land with the Wizards.

Mike James and Javaris Crittenton are the backup guards for Washington.

Not sure that the Wizards would even need Steph, unless they planned on moving Gilbert Arenas over to shooting guard. If that were to happen, Marbury and Arenas could possibly be the worst defensive backcourt pairing. Marbury showed some flashes of Starbury here and there but couldn’t play with any consistency. If he catches on with a team and goes through all of training camp, maybe he can become the offensive threat he has been his whole career. He showed that he truly can be a team player and hopefully he brings that attitude with him wherever he continues his career, be it in Boston or for another franchise.

Posted in 2009, Offseason, Players, Rumors | 1 Comment »

Howard’s 6th Technical Rescinded

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 27, 2009

ESPN.com:

The NBA announced Wednesday that it has rescinded Howard’s sixth technical foul of the playoffs, which he was given for taunting Anderson Varejao after a layup in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s 116-114 overtime victory Tuesday night. Cleveland‘s forward had draped his arms around Howard in a failed attempt to stop him from scoring.

Howard’s total of technicals for the postseason is thus back down to five. Players receive a one-game suspension after reaching seven technical fouls and further one-game suspensions for every other technical thereafter.

Here’s the video of the technical foul:

How soft has the NBA gotten when what Dwight did last night constitutes a technical foul? So you are no longer allowed to celebrate a big bucket, but every time Anderson Varejao is called for a foul he’s allowed to complain to the ref? I guess this is the NBA we are stuck with. The next video is pretty much what Dwight Howard did, but would NEVER receive a T in the golden age of the NBA…

NBA of the 90’s > NBA of the 2000’s

Posted in 2009, News | 2 Comments »

Garnett Has Successful Knee Surgery

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 26, 2009

KG Scream

From ESPN.com:

BOSTON — Kevin Garnett had surgery Tuesday on his right knee after missing all of the playoffs.

The Boston Celtics defensive star and inspirational leader had bone spurs removed during the arthroscopic surgery.

“I expect Kevin to return to active duty in full force and be that consummate two-way professional that he has shown all of us throughout his fantastic NBA career,” coach Doc Rivers said.

It’s nice to see that this surgery is finally done and was successful. I think everyone fully expects Kevin Garnett to be back at 100% when the season starts in October. What that 100% will be is yet to be seen. I’m sure he will lose just a little bit of his lift on his knee, but not enough to keep him from finishing the beautiful lob passes we’ve seen Rondo throw him game after game.

I hope Garnett the best and hope he has no hinderances in his return to the court this summer. Without him, it was obvious we are no longer a championship team. I’m not saying if you take Rondo or Pierce off the team that we can still win a title, but you lose one of them, especially a premier big man, the Celtics might as well pack it in and play for next season. With only about two or three years left before the window is closed shut on this current team, health will be even more important than ever.

Posted in 2009, News, Offseason, Players | Leave a Comment »

Roster Review: JR Giddens

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 25, 2009

JR Smoke

I’m going to do a series of write-ups for all of the Boston Celtics that finished the season as a part of this team, starting from least impactful and working my way up. I think it is easy to say who goes first if that is the case…

JR Giddens, just like the picture, has a clouded past and perhaps a cloudy future in the league. I had already blogged about his college years earlier, so I’ll focus on the here and now… and future.

After being draft at #30 overall in last year’s draft, I’m not sure anyone knew what to expect from the kid this year. He has all the athletic tools to be an effective player in the league. He’s got long arms that could be disruptive on the defensive side of the ball. He’s got a decent jump shot for a shooting guard, but is a great rebounder at the position.

Ultimately, we didn’t see much of JR this season. He only logged seven minutes and 48 seconds of floor time during the regular season and had four points, three rebounds, one steal and one turnover. Obviously, the sample size is far too small to draw and conclusions about his play, but one thing for sure is that Giddens must improve his general basketball IQ. He has alwasy been able to get by on his athleticism alone, but now he has to do a little thinking, and that’s why he can’t get on the floor. This offseason, he really needs to study the defensive rotations as well as bulk up a bit. He needs to stick around with Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and have them teach him how to really make it in the NBA.

It would be great if JR Giddens could be ready for ten minutes a game next season. He would relieve Ray Allen and limit his total minutes in the regular season as well as phase out Tony Allen from the rotation. Unfortunately, I don’t expect him to improve enough to carve out consistent time in the rotation. The 2009-2010 season could be another year spent in the Developmental League.

Posted in 2009, Offseason, Players | 2 Comments »

This Just In: LeBron Can’t Shoot

Posted by r1zzo23 on May 25, 2009

87746191JM033_Cleveland_Cav

Anyone checking the box score this morning must think that LeBron James dominated the game from start to finish, but didn’t get help from his teammates. That could be true, but if James could hit a jump shot, maybe the Cavaliers take the 2-1 lead in this series.

Everyone likes to remember LeBron’s Game 1 where he shot 20-30 from the field for 49 points (in a losing effort). He was on fire in every sense of the phrase. He was knocking down 22-foot jumpers with ease and, when that is happening, he is unguardable. Last night, however, this was not the case.

Looking at LeBron’s shot chart, he was his typical dominant self at the rim, finishing the game eight for ten on layups and one for two on dunks. That right there is good for 18 points, so he’s off to a nice start. Then, with the refs blowing the whistle for him, perhaps many favorable calls, LeBron ended up shooting 24 free throws, sinking 18 of them. That’s good for 75%. In the fourth quarter alone, he shot seven of 12 from the line. Missing six free throws all night isn’t that bad, but to miss five in crunch time is unacceptable from the supposed best player in the league.

If you thought the free throws were bad, the jumpers are worse. One game after “The Shot”, LeBron bricked seven of his eight three-point attempts. Add to that he shot another one of eight from 2-point jumpers from outside the paint, making him a total of 2-16 on jump shots. It’s obvious you’re not going to stop LeBron from getting to the rim. Couple the fact he does attack the rim so much along with the refs protecting him, he’s going to get to the line his fair share as well. But if you get him to settle for jump shots, you’ve just increased your team’s chances of winning.

LeBron James has these games where he can’t miss a jumper once per postseason. Two seasons ago, it was his magical game against the Detroit Pistons. Last year, it was Game 7 against the Boston Celtics with his duel against Paul Pierce. This year, Game 1 against Orlando was his great shooting game, and it was all for naught.

Posted in 2009, Players | Leave a Comment »