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YKWWBC: If Von Wafer Played Like It Was 2009

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.

Open Shots:

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.

  • if wafer can return to 09′ form then we might have a shot at another ring. BUT! im extremly curious to see how he plays i heard that at point, im not sure before or after the greek team he was cut by the Mavs and other team? given that he said he was hungry so i hope he plays well with the min. he is given if the big 2 can play 25-30min a game and still win that might be golden for the playoffs…well see…im pretty sure wafer killed us for a buzzer beater with the rockets to bak in 09 so he might have some clutch in him too

  • Jeff

    Von Wafer will be good.

    He will get open looks in the C’s offense and if he’s not open, then someone else will be.

    The C’s WILL wn the Title. Take that to the bank.

    Just like the Lakers took their anger and used it to fuel 2 titles, so the Celtic’s will use their rage and frustration to pound the Lakers with size, speed, and a better bench.

    The Celtic’s and LA last year game 7…what were the differences.

    LA had 21 FT’s in the fourth, which is a travesty in and of itself.

    No Perkins. Which people keep saying “well Bynum was hurt too so…” Hurt is not the same as GONE. Sheed was hurt also, but he played. Bynum was hurt but he played. So the C’s had 2 legit Centers in game 7, one hurt and one out. LA had 2 Centers one hurt and the other fine. Sorry, it’s not the same people.

    Now in the offseason, the C’s essentially replaced one with JO who is better overall, younger, better at rebounding and shooting at this stage.

    Plus they replace Shelden with Shaq.

    Get Nate for the whole year as a PG, got an upgrade at SG in VW and resigned Quis to be the SF stopper.

    Not to mention they have a kid in Bradley who will be better than TA in dribbling and shooting and has Great D.

    Also Goddy…

    LA added Barnes (who sucked and got whipped by the C’s in the playoffs) Ratliff (replaces Powell but a worse shooter) and Blake who is a good upgrade from Farmar but not a difference maker.

    LA won by 4 with all that and the C’s had the better offseason, and aren’t done yet.

    C’s will win this year in revenge mode!

  • Ducksawce

    The more I hear about Von Wafer, the more intrigued I get. In the midst of the finals game 7 fallout, and the controversy being spilled over the unexepcted creation of the evil trifecta in Miami, Celtics fans have clamored for two things over and over again:
    1)A credible and intimidating frontline to replace (and even go beyond in our case) Perk. Obviously, we did pretty well there.
    2.A backup for Paul Pierce…a scorer and defensive stopper.

    Well, we already covered one base EXTREMELY well. We’ve got (inarguably) the deepest and most intimdating frontlinein the NBA now. We must remember that KG will be MUCH improved compared to last year. Baby will actually have a FULL year in the system (a contract year no less!) unlike last year in which he was recovering from injury until the beginning of the playoffs. Jermaine and Shaq are VERY adept scorers…and importantly they are both very, very hungry for a ring. Jermaine himself is nearly as good of a defender against most teams, and Shaq is still a hell of a scoring threat when he is motivated…which he is!

    The second desire of Celtics fans (backup 3) is debatable, but we have Marquis. Remember, Marquis was VERY good when he wasn’t injured. Of course, that’s the key…injury. We’ve got until the February deadline to possibly get something really special at that position. But remember!!…why are we wanting a backup 3 so bad?…not for offense but defense…against who?…not just anybody, but Lebron!

    Against Lebron, Ray Allen was actually a far better defender than Paul Pierce. We don’t necessarily need a backup 3 for defensive purposes against Lebron! If Paul Pierce gets in foul trouble, or is not “on”, place Ray on Lebron, and a backup on Wade…really, it doesn’t matter who, because he’ll get torched no matter who he is…the key is that THIS player will also be an offensive force in his own right…unlike Tony Allen.

    Now, what is arguably the best defense against somebody like Lebron…or Wade in particular? Besides “lockdown” defense of the Tony Allen variety, it is potent offense. Ray Allen did much to tire Dwyane Wade out during the first round against Miami. Well…

    …guess who may be able to do the same thing for us?…

    Von Wafer…this is where my comment is leading to.

    Instead of thinking of ways to “stop” Lebron or Wade or Kobe (which we already do well), how about we make them guard US non-stop. If we’ve always got some combination of Ray, Paul, Von Wafer, and Marquis on the floor at all times…it means we’ve got ultimate flexibility and consistency in offense….something taht was direly needed (and missing) for much of the year, and eventually in the playoffs and finals.

    Somebody like Von Wafer would come off the bench, and essentially do what Ray does…and potentially do it well.

    I’ve read up a lot on him recently…and his profile seems to be one more akin to Rondo than anything else…no, not physically or game-wise…mentality-wise.

    He butt heads previously…but isn’t that something we’ve seen amongst some of our own more talented players?

    In addition, every comment I hear from him is laden with enthusiasm, gratitude, regret, and most importantly…hunger…hunger to prove himself as a viable and valued addition to a championship team…a potential role he squandered on a (potentially…I mean game 7 against the Lakers in the semis!…wow!) championship-bound Rockets team.

    Obviously, he has performed in the playoffs before…and like lil’ Nate, he can potentially go off for massive scoring sprees at any time.

    Brendan, what a well-written article! You are VERY right in your characterisation of the bench…it will be a perimeter-oriented spree basically. With Ray, Nate, and Von Wafer (and a perpetually strong interior presence in Baby and Shaq/Jermaine), we’ll essentially have a bench-version of the Orlando magic. Talk about offensive potency, AND heavy interior defensive presence.

    Von is hungry and talented…sounds a lot like Nate. I love this guy already, and I think he’s truly going to turn some heads. Instead of relying upon Marquis and Sheed as our 6th man and 3rd big respectively, now we’ve got Shaq/Jermaine/Perk, and Von Wafer as those options (with Marquis still in the depth chart obviously).

    We have upgraded our team massively, and nobody outside of Boston really even realizes it. We’re going to have a much better record this year (at least plus 5 from last year), and we’ll certainly wear teams out with our depth (especially one amongst others that won’t likely be characterized by its depth…cough, cough…Miami Heat…).

  • jfree781

    Good piece. It has been so hard lately to find an article about the Celtics that actually makes sense, or is not about the same nonsense that people have been recycling for the last few months.

  • Mang

    “Instead of speculating in a TMZesque way, I would rather speculate in basketball way.”

    Good call there. I like the YKWWBC idea, definitely a very fun type of speculation.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    i’m optimistic about von. he has natural physical and offensive skills. and he has motivation to prove himself and be a good teammate after all the recent damage to his rep.

    i’m really looking forward to an exciting bench. from an entertainment perspective, there’ll be a lot less sleeper games during the regular season than last year.

    regarding shaq….its going to be a long year….i’m already tired of hearing about his offcourt hobbies.

  • Michael B

    I totally agree with Ducksawce; Unless you’re a Celtics fan, you probably have no idea what’s coming. People think that just because the Celtics didn’t land a superstar (a young superstar, that is), that they haven’t made any good moves this offseason.

    I spent some time looking up more info on Von Wafer and I have to say I am impressed. At first I thought he was just some washed up has-been/never-was, but after watching some videos of him, I am FLOORED by his athleticism and his potential. He’s so quick and has such scoring potential. He’s like a full-sized Nate Robinson (And I say that with all the respect in the world for Nate). Only thing I’d be worried about is attitude/personality problems, but I think Doc has done a great job with guys like Rando (when many people doubted it) and Nate Robinson.

    The more I learn about this roster the more convinced I am that Doc and Danny have been making all the right moves this offseason.

  • Tristan

    Love the fact that the pic is von shooting over rudy!!!

  • Tristan

    Love the fact that the pic is von shooting over rudy!!! Sending a message much!!!

  • sacbobv

    Thanks Brendan for making the ho-hum of the dog days of off season a little more bearable.

  • I love Green

    Brian Robb I am mildly upset with you picking our Boston Celtics to lose in the Finals.

    Or are you just setting a reverse jinx on them?

  • @Jeff…..Celtics let a 3 games to 2 series advantage slip through their hands.

    The loss of Perkins was a bad break.

    Of course the Lakers played the entire series against the Celtics in 2008 without an injured Bynum. No excuses, injuries are part of the game.

    Jermaine O’Neal has had his own set of injury problems plaguing him his whole career. No telling what could happen with him.

    Shaq missed nearly half of last season injured, only to return in time for the playoffs.

    Add to that Garnett’s injury problems the pased season and a half, Perkins already out. This is a fragile proposition for a long 82 game schedule.

    You better hold your breath when it comes to these guys on the front line.

    The big three looked gassed as the playoffs wore on. None of them are going to get better. They’re going to get older.

    Garnett can still defend, but he can’t run the floor anymore, he’s got no inside game to speak of and he can’t rebound when matched up with elite opposition.

    Ray Allen had one great game in the finals and then disappeared.

    Pierce not resembling his old reliable self when it comes to scoring either as the playoffs wore on.

    These things aren’t going to improve. They are steadily declining.

    That’s what happens to guys in their mid 30’s in the NBA. Their skills erode quickly.