Today…is a slow Celtics news day. Rajon Rondo is no longer on Team USA, Shaquille O’Neal is eating hot dogs, beating Charles Barkely in golf and playing hilariously absurd interviewee on SportsCenter yesterday (seriously, he refers to Brian Kenny as “Steve” and “Tom”. Priceless.).
I could spend a few hundred meaningless words stirring up fake controversy about how O’Neal should spend more time getting ready for the season instead of doing a lame faux-competition TeeVee show. Or I could pull a Stan Van Gundy meets Rodney Dangerfield about how Rondo not playing for team USA is somehow an attack on his reputation. Of course, I would be wrong to do so. Shaq is a bench player who, much like Rasheed Wallace of yester-year, needs to be in shape and effective for the playoffs. I do not really care what he does during the offseason. Besides, do you think last night documented the only time Shaq has eaten a gluttonous amount of hot dogs in the 18 seasons? As for Rondo, wasn’t it about a week ago when we linked to a “Ball Don’t Lie” blog post about Rondo being the third best point guard in the NBA?
I know it’s the offseason and everyone is just itching for something, anything to occupy their minds until training camp. Instead of speculating in a TMZesque way, I would rather speculate in basketball way. All that said, I bring you the first installment of the new CelticsHub.com offseason filler collection entitled, “You Know What Would Be Cool?”
This collection will explore completely irrelevant speculation about some things that would be “cool” if they came to fruition. Without further adieu: You know what would be cool? If Von Wafer regains some semblance of his 2009 form.
In 2009, Von Wafer averaged 10 points a game on 45% shooting from the field and 39% from deep (Hoopdata.com). Let’s juxtapose these stats with the Celtics main offensive punch off the bench last season: Nate Robinson. In 26 games with Boston, Robinson averaged 7 points on 41% from deep and 40% shooting overall (Hoopdata.com). Come playoff time next season, Robinson will have had a full season+ in the Celtics’ system and will be asked to be more of a play maker than a scorer- something he had shown flashes of last season. Having Wafer play up to his 2009 level will mean a multitude of things for Robinson, as well as the rest of the Celtics bench.
Wafer’s shooting and scoring ability spreads the floor immensely. If the Celtics were to go small (which seems ironic given how much height they added this offseason) and were able to play a three guard set involving Robinson, Wafer and Ray Allen, their opponents would be forced to pick their poison. Undoubtedly, teams will not be leaving Ray Allen open which could provide exactly what Wafer needs to get his Celtics career off on the right foot: open shots.
In addition, can you imagine Wafer and Allen running off baseline screens at the same time?
Less Playing for Ray Allen:
Allen is known for keeping himself in great shape but age can make fools of us all. While he hasn’t shown signs of slowing yet, the history of inevitability shows us that Ray Allen will lose a step and need more rest. Wafer is set to be plugged in as Allen’s replacement off the bench should Wafer show he is capable of handling that type of responsibility. A fresher Allen should make Allen’s Finals performance nothing more than an outlier to an otherwise great career.
Less “Down-to-the-Wire’ Games:
Last season, the Celtics had trouble rebounding and getting buckets when it was absolutely necessary. It was no mystery that the team’s offensive short-comings were due in large part to a few elements: 1) Rajon Rondo not being a outside scoring threat; 2) a tired group of starters that could not keep up; and 3) lack of reserves with offensive capabilities.
Nate Robinson did all that he could to take on that scoring burden, but remember, not only was he being counted on to be the offensive jolt off the bench, but he also had to replace the outside shooting that departed with Eddie House. Couple Robinson, with two non-shooters in Tony Allen and Marquis Daniels and the Celtics had very little in the way of outside shooting off the bench.
Wafer could change all that.
Of course, none of this is going to happen without Wafer getting some opportunities early on and without seizing those opportunities and playing up to his past abilities. If these things don’t happen, then the Celtics just have another young guy at the end of the bench that does not play.
Then again, this why is why Wafer is the subject of our first YKWWBC.