When I spoke with Gary Tanguay a few weeks back about the needs of this Celtics team for the offseason, one thing stood out to me: the desire of Danny Ainge to improve the offense coming off the bench.
As we come towards the end of July now, the Celtics have all ready done a terrific job in that department. They have added a big man in Rasheed Wallace who can play in the post but also is a threat from downtown. Marquis Daniels is an upgrade from Tony Allen as a slasher who can play several positions while finding a way to get to the hoop regularly without turning the ball over at an unreasonable rate.
With these moves, it’s clear that the offense coming off the pine next year will be dramatically improved. There will be plenty of shooters (House, Wallace, Scalabrine, Big Baby if he returns) to go along with a penetrator that finishes well around the basket in Daniels. Now that the other pieces are in place, the question remains: What kind of a player do you want running the helm with this unit?
I floated the idea of whether the C’s want Stephon Marbury back to fill this role next year. He is a player who has been the focal point of an offense for the majority of his career. Last year, he played a good solider and was a consummate pro trying to learn the team’s system on the fly. You could tell it was hard for Marbury to find a balance between trying to provide a depleted 2nd unit with a scoring spark and attempting to facilitate the offense by being a good distributor.
It was an incredibly difficult task to ask of the veteran coming off of nearly a year hiatus from the NBA. That’s why myself and many other Celtics fans have left the door open on a return intitally despite the lackluster numbers he put up in the role. His recent webcam exploits have liked caused that door to be shut however.
It’s clear though that the team’s bench needs have dramatically shifted since the end of last offseason. Where as the team was looking for that offensive firepower from somewhere on the bench last year when Marbury arrived, that need is no longer there.
With Eddie House, Marquis Daniels, Glen Davis, (assuming he returns) and Rasheed Wallace rounding out the 2 through 5 spots off the bench respectively, I can’t help but think how much better that unit will be with the ball compared to last year’s unit. It will be like night and day.
A part of me cautiously wonders if there will be enough shots to go around though. Don’t get me wrong here, its clearly better to have too much firepower rather than too little but think about the players we have in place here.
Eddie House: Everyone in Boston knows how much Eddie likes to shoot so I won’t waste time on him here.
Marquis Daniels: Averaged 13 shots a game last year for the Pacers
Glen Davis: The shot numbers obviously increased last year along with his playing time topping out at 12.5 shots a game during the playoffs.
Rasheed Wallace: Has always been a focal part of the offense his entire career, averaging 12.5 shots for his career and 11 last year with the Pistons.
Putting it all together, you have a lot of capable players there accustomed to being pivotal parts of their teams offensive output. Like I said earlier, I think this is a great thing overall and will sway the team’s weakness from last year (bench scoring) into a strength.
That being said, I feel that Danny must be careful in picking who he wants to fill that backup PG spot. It is unclear if Gabe Pruitt will be around and given an opportunity to earn minutes since the team has until the end of the week to exercise their option on him.
Given how often his name has been mentioned in trade talks, I would be shocked if Danny does not being in a veteran or two to create some competition at that spot once Pruitt is let go, which seems likely at this point.
Whoever earns the backup position will be critical in divvying up the shot opportunities for a capable 2nd unit. It has been documented how crucial it is for Rajon Rondo to keep three all stars happy with their shot opportunities within the first offense.
With a shot happy 2nd team, looking to maximize their production in reduced minutes, it will become pivotal for them to facilitate the offense effectively. That’s why I think right now, the last thing the C’s need is a shoot first PG coming in to fill out the bench.
Below I have listed the point guards in no particular order that are still available and likely could be had for the veteran’s minimum, or perhaps a bit more in the case of Carter and Jackson.
There is a long list of guys still available out there and each of them have their flaws. Given the choice though between an Anthony Carter or Bobby Jackson right now to fill that role, I go with the distributor and more natural PG in Carter rather than the shooter in Jackson.
I want to know where everyone else is on this though. For any guy the C’s could bring in for the veteran’s minimum, should they just bring in someone more offensively inclined and overall talented (Jackson, Marbury, Tinsley) or a gritty role player (Anthony Carter, Kevin Ollie) whose strengths are their distribution and defense rather than shooting abilities.
There’s really no right answer here, I just want to know what direction you see the C’s going for the spot.
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