With training camp just 12 days away, I have been thinking about reasons for optimism. Here are just a few of the reasons that I am optimistic about this upcoming season.
Big Al. After a disappointing season last year, Al has a renewed sense of urgency. He is determined to prove all of his critics wrong. After the doctors finally found the bone chips in his ankle, he is finally without pain. He has been in Boston all summer working on his strength and conditioning. He is 30 lbs lighter and has his fat % down to under 10%. He is working with Clifford Ray this summer and should have a break out year.
Perk. Perk is due for a break out year also. His shoulder is healed and he is working hard on his game again this summer. Working with Clifford Ray and Ratliff should make a difference in his game this season. Perk signed an extension for quite a bit less than he could have gotten if he tried to hold out, but he feels loyalty to the Celtics and he feels he needs to earn his next contract. I believe he will and then some.
Ratliff. Ratliff may be a sleeper addition to this team. If healthy, which he seems to be, he will add inside toughness, rebounding and shotblocking, all of which we lacked for the most part last year. He won't be a scorer, but we have plenty of scorers on the team. He will be a defensive threat and shot blocker and will rebound and will add a veteran presence up front.
Clifford Ray. Every team that Clifford Ray has coached on has turned their rebounding around from one of the worst teams to one of the better teams. Rebounding was one of our big weaknesses last season and so I am looking forward to becoming one of the better rebounding teams this year. It is entirely possible that both Al and Perk can pull down double figures in rebounds every night.
Turnovers. Last season we were one of the worst teams in committing turnovers. Our biggest offender in that category is gone and will be adding to Minny's turnovers this season. We also are bringing in 2 pure points who will handle the ball more this season and who will keep Pierce from dribbling into double and triple teams all the time and turning the ball over. Plus, I believe that Wally will take better care of the ball than Ricky did.
Leon Powe. Danny has a knack for finding gems in the second round. Last year it was Gomes. This year, it will be Powe. He averaged a double double last season in college. He has an NBA body already and won't need the season to work on strength and conditioning as he is already there. He should make a contribution this season as he adds toughness in the middle and is an excellent rebounder and can score around the basket very well. He should do a lot to toughen up Al in practice as well.
Telfair to Green. We got a small taste of what these two can do during summer league with the between the legs pass from Telfair to a cutting Green for a slam. I believe that we will see many more exciting plays between these two this season.
Rondo and Telfair. It has been a long time since we have had 2 pure point guards on this team capable of running the fast break and leading the offense the way these two hopefully will. Rondo's defense will be a welcome addition to the team as well. The quality of PG play won't diminish when the second team is on the floor which will be a very good thing. Both are capable of playing fast break basketball at a high level and regardless of which player starts and which comes off the bench, we will have a quality PG on the floor at all times.
Chemistry. This team has incredible chemistry. They like to hang out together off the court as well as on the court. They get along great and all of them want to be here and are extremely hard workers. The kids have all been around Boston much of the summer working together. Pierce has really taken his role as mentor to heart and loves to have the youngsters over to his place to hang out much of the time. this chemistry is going to translate into better play on the court as they get used to playing with each other.
No Blount. One of Danny's best moves was to get rid of Blount. His attitude was like a cancer. He was averaging as many turnovers as rebounds and while he was in, Perk wasn't - all good reasons to be very happy that he isn't here.
Pierce and Wally. Paul Pierce proved last year that he can work within the system and he took his game to a new level. I believe that with 2 pure point guards who can run the fast break and who can find the open man, he is going to be even better this year. With his extension out of the way, and his elbow healed, there shouldn't be any distractions to slow him down. Wally was also slowed by injury after the trade. Without the pain in his knee to slow him down, he should be back to his deadly accurate shooting. I believe that he will be the perfect complement to the running game that we are going to be playing. Both Pierce and Wally are good rebounders at their position and very good at getting to the line. Wally is automatic once he gets there and hopefully without the elbow problems Pierce will improve over his last year's performance at the line.
As you can see, there are many reasons to be optimistic this season and I can't wait for the season to start.
Agreed on all points, FL. We've got a real good chance to be the most stacked team in the NBA in a couple of years (of course that may lead to a trade or two to bring in a higher caliber player).
Leon Powe is an exceptional offensive rebounder. He and Gomes are similar in this regard (as well as both being second round picks that Ainge got extremely lucky with). It does boggle the mind that a collegiate All-American falls all the way to the mid second round. You don't just average 20 and 10 in college by being just an average player. He doesn't have an explosive first step, but once his momentum gets going, he can get off the ground pretty high. He reminds me of Ike Diogu (a guy I really really like), except without the explosiveness. Hard working post players who are determined to score in the post.