We have all heard arguments on both sides of the state of the Celtics. The pessimists say that we are floundering around and mired in mediocrity. The koolaid drinkers say that we are on the verge of the next championship. But where exactly do the Celtics lie? My guess is somewhere in between. We aren't there yet but are building toward the goal. We do have some weaknesses and whether or not Danny addresses them is anyone's guess. Let's look at each position and see where we stand.
At the point we have Rajon Rondo who should be our starter. Backing him up is Sebastian Telfair and Gabe Pruitt. From all reports, Telfair is working hard on his game this summer and is more determined than ever to make it in the league. Danny reportedly wants to give Telfair another chance and with his value around the league at the lowest point, he doesn't seem to have much choice. Pruitt showed some signs of being able to play, but he is a rookie and that means inconsistency. The point guard position is one of the areas where we could use help. We could be ok with Rondo, Telfair and Pruitt if Rondo continues to improve and if his shot has improved enough to be a threat from mid range, and if Telfair can learn to be a pass first point guard and can play closer to what expectations have been for him.
At the 2 guard we have Ray Allen , Tony Allen , and Gerald Green. Ray Allen brings a pure shooter and a second all star to play along side Pierce. He is also a very good veteran leader and a good locker room influence. He will be the leader this team has needed. Tony Allen was playing great last season before he was injured. We need him to get back to that level on both offense and defense in order to get to the next level. Gerald was a disappointment in Summer League, but he is still young and did show improvement on defense. With Ray Allen playing ahead of him, he should have the time he needs to develop further.
At the small forward we have Pierce, Gomes, Scal and Brandon Wallace. Pierce missed most of last season with the injuries and should come back this season in great shape and ready to play. He has a veteran all star to play beside him and take on the leadership role that he has been so hesitant to do. Gomes is really tearing it up in summer play in the ABA. I am excited to see what he can do this season. I believe that he is going to step up his play and be big for us this season. Brandon Wallace was signed mostly for his defense. He can defend the bigger 3's and is a shot blocker and rebounder and will be used when we need a lock down defender at the 3. Scal seems to be the odd man out here because even though he played better last year than he did the previous season, he still doesn't bring that much to the table. He is a good locker room guy and we should leave it at that.
At power forward we have Al, Big Baby and Powe (with Gomes being able to play the 4 as well). Al broke out last season and should be even better this season. He will give us an inside offensive presence to balance Ray Allen's outside shooting ability and Pierce's ability to shoot or take it to the hoop. Big Baby showed in Summer League that he can play. But, he is a rookie, so will be inconsistent, but I expect him to be able to contribute this season. Leon Powe was great in summer league and will be a physical presence in the paint. When he gets playing time, he makes good things happen, so let's hope he gets playing time this season.
At the Center position we have Perk and Ratliff. I love Perk and reports are that he is working very, very hard this summer. I expect a break out year from Perk but he needs a back up. All reports say that Ratliff is working hard and is in great shape and expects to play this season. But then again, that is what everyone said about him last season. It is a contract season for him and that has made even the worst players look good (remember Mark Blount?). But no matter how much he wants to play, his body may not cooperate. This is our weakest position right now. Jefferson can play center but he is most effective at the 4, playing alongside Perk at center. Doc loves to play small ball and in those lineups, Powe or Big Baby can play center. But the smart thing to do would be to bring in another center as I just don't have faith in Ratliff making it though the whole season.
We are weak at the point and weak in the center and Danny should try to address those weaknesses this off season. To me, a deal for Navarro and Haywood would address both needs but I haven't heard any talk about Danny going after them. I feel that looking at the talent we have, we should be very close to moving up to the next tier of teams. Last year we were slowed by injuries to just about everyone on the team. Virtually every position was affected. Those injuries did give the younger players more experience and led to Big Al becoming a go to guy and others getting more playing time.
The biggest weakness from the last couple of years has been the in-game coaching. And his biggest weakness was that he he didn't work hard enough on team defense. Maybe he will learn from his mistakes and be better this year. He has already said that he is going to stress defense this season and I really hope this is true. I also hope that he had learned from his mistakes to better handle the rotations and substitutions. I like Doc but just don't have any faith in his coaching abilities. If he continues to flounder, Danny needs to address the coaching position and make a change.
Two very important things in building a championship team are chemistry and continuity. Champions have both. In spite of the injuries and the losing record last year, the team stuck together. They like each other and spend time with each other. That kind of chemistry is more important than most people realize. Bringing in Allan Ray can only help our chemistry as he is a leader and very good locker room guy. He should fit in with the team without a problem. Now we need the continuity of playing with the same guys from training camp and through complete seasons. We have the chemistry and now need to build the continuity. As fans, we need to show just a little more patience. If you look back at most of the stars in this league it took several years for them to break out. Very few players come in and right away become stars. We have players with the athleticism and abilities to become stars and we just need the patience for them to develop. We are better at every position than we were when Danny took over. Plus we have the resources to get better still. We may not win the championship this year, but I believe we are close and getting closer all the time.