It is hard to stay positive these days. There are plenty of negatives to focus on. We are losing. We don't seem to be playing with heart or any toughness. Our coach continues to make poor decisions and shows more and more that we need a coaching change. We continually blow leads and lose close games. Our "best" player is 4th in the league in turnvoers averaging just under 4 TO's a game. (Allen Iverson is #1 with 4.4 per game. Yes, there are a lot of negatives to focus on. But there are also positives if you look hard enough.
Gerald Green's emergence is a big positive. Last season he was completely lost. It was widely believed that it would be several years before he could come in and contribute. But this season, he is opening a lot of eyes with his play. He is playing good defense. In fact, Doc has put him in on several occasions for his defense. He is moving without the ball and he is knocking down his shots. He is leading the league in 3 point percentage shooting almost 57% from behind the arc. He is shooting almost 50% from the field behind only Gomes, Perk and Scal. Yes, Green is coming into his own this season which is way quicker than anyone thought last season. Hopefully Wednesday's game is the beginning of many, many more to come.
Al Jefferson is finally living up to his potential. He still isn't getting the kind of minutes he should be but I think that will change with Perk being out. He is scoring in the low post (when they get him the ball there), he is taking charges and drawing fouls in the paint. He isn't falling for upfakes like he once did on every possession and is showing more patience to get the block rather than a foul. He is being more aggressive in the paint and taking it strong to the basket instead of settling for hookshots in the middle of the key.
Ryan Gomes. Need I say more? This kid has proven to be the essence of reliability and consistency. He just keeps getting better. He is shooting 51% from the field and rarely takes a bad shot. He is averaging 6.5 rebounds per game and 10.9 points per game to go with only 1.3 turnovers. Gomes rarely makes mistakes and is playing solid defense. He is a player pure and simple.
Rajon Rondo is capable of taking over a game. Shot or no shot, this kid needs to play. We saw what his defense and energy can do in the Memphis game. Rondo's hustle and defense are capable of changing the tempo of a game and can completely change the game around. Green may have been doing the scoring Wednesday night, but it was Rondo's 4 steals and game control that brought the Celtics back. Any more DNP's are inexcusable whether he can hit an 18 footer or not. Teams do not back off him as much as Doc would have us believe because he is so capable of taking it to the basket if they do. Whether he can hit the mid range jumper or not, Rondo is an excellent PG and needs to be on the floor. He is exciting to watch and his few rookie mistakes and lack of shooting are made up for in many other ways.
I still feel that Powe is a big positive. He has proved that he can play. He is a defensive presence in the paint. He is a good rebounder. He won't back down from anyone and is much longer than his 6'7" measurements because of his long arms and leaping ability. But yet, Doc isn't playing him. Even with no centers and a desperate need for bigs, Doc played him only 7 minutes Wednesday. He needs more minutes to regain the confidence that Doc is killing by keeping him on the bench.
Perk's emergence as a leader is a plus. He has spoken out before and has even called out Pierce when he was not giving enough effort. Perk is emerging as a leader both on and off the court and that is a very good thing. Pierce may be the captain, but he hasn't been a leader. We need leadership and Perk seems to be providing it. His teammates, including Pierce, listen to him because he proves with his effort and work ethic, that he gives it all and so he can call others out on their lack of effort. I love this kid and hope he continues to speak out and keep his teammates in line.
We have a lot of injuries. I know this doesn't sound like a positive but it is if you think about it. Last year, the injuries brought about the emergence of Ryan Gomes. This year, it may be Leon Powe or it may just be the emergence of one or more of the young players who will get more playing time because of the injuries. Doc has proved that he will play veterans instead of kids if he has them available. But that does nothing for the emergence of these young players. Wally's injury opened up more time for Green and now Doc pretty much has to play him more. But then again, this is Doc we are talking about. Even with all three centers out, Doc is playing Scal instead of giving Powe regular minutes. If it takes injuries to get these kids some playing time, then the injuries are a good thing and we will be that much stronger when the injured players come back. We may be losing now, but it should make us a better team in the future.
We aren't the only team that is losing and trade rumors are popping up all over. We are hearing more Garnett, Iverson, O'Neal, and Gasol trade rumors and more pop up daily. We still have a lot of trading chips that should one of these stars become available for real, we should be able to put together a good package for him.
Back in '77, the Seattle Supersonics started the season 5 and 17. Then they fired the coach and hired Lenny Wilkens. They went to Boston and kicked their ass. That started a run of success that led them to game 7 loss of the NBA finals to the Washington Bullets in 1978 and the Sonics won the title in 1979 just before Bird and Magic entered the NBA.
It is still early. We are 5 and 12, but still have 65 games to turn this around. It is possible that Doc will either quit or be fired and it will all turn around. It is possible that Danny will make a big trade to bring in a player that will put us over the top. It is possible that one or more of the kids will emerge and have a break out game at any time and if they do, it may just ignite the team. But then, it is possible that Doc will just bury them on the bench again (See Powe,Leon and Rondo, Rajon). But there is still plenty of time in this season and because we are so young, next season as well.
There are positives. We are seeing some good individual performances but as a team, we haven't been able to put it together yet. But I believe that is coming. We may need a new coach for it to happen, but many of our young players are emerging and proving that they can play. We just need them to start doing it together. There are still reasons to keep the koolaid around.
Coach, this is one of my biggest fears. That Danny is going to trade one of these very talented players because Doc isn't giving them enough playing time or because he isn't letting them play to their strengths and then they will become all stars... much better than who we traded them for... like Billups and Johnson. I would much rather fire Doc than get rid of any of the players and see what these kids can do with another coach.