In the midst of Chris Forsberg’s terrific Summer Forecast over at ESPN Boston we’ve reached a question of utmost significance in the C’s hopes next season, the importance of Marquis Daniels. Here’s what I wrote today, over at the Forecast:
Daniels’ performance next season is one that bears close watching for C’s fans. Brought back on a one-year $2.4 million deal, purely out of necessity more than anything else, Daniels follows up last season’s disappointing campaign as the team’s top reserve at a wing position thin on depth.
The C’s can’t afford another down year from Daniels, with Tony Allen out of the picture and Ray Allen and Paul Pierce one year older. Those guys need to have their minutes kept down during the regular season more than ever, and Daniels needs to hold his own as a key reserve.
The good news is I expect Marquis to step up to the challenge. A clean bill of health and not having to learn a new system should do wonders for Daniels’ play as he becomes more comfortable in Celtic green without having to battle TA for minutes.
The guy has the overall skill set to be a big contributor; I just don’t think we saw him really healthy at all last year. If he can stay healthy (a huge if, I know), Daniels has both the ability and a strong supporting cast on the bench to excel in his role this season.
I don’t expect him to play 82 games, but a strong bounce-back performance — in a make-or-break season for his career — should be in the cards.
Let’s get a bit more in-depth here as there are a few more points I want to dig into more in discussing Daniels’ prospects next year
1) Daniels’ was hurt essentially all of last year.
It’s easy to forget that Quisy hurt his thumb initially back on November 14th last year, just 10 games into the season. He played through the pain for nine more games, before re-aggravating the thumb again in early December, at which point x-rays revealed the torn ligaments. So although Daniels played in 50+ games last year, don’t let the numbers fool you, he played with a busted thumb for a lot of them.
2) Daniels was playing pretty well in February before Nate Robinson arrived
This speaks more to the lack of a defined role for Daniels that caused his play and playing time to take a nosedive in the final months of the year. Let’s take a look at the numbers first in February, in which Quisy was manning the point upon returning from his thumb injury.
9 games, 9.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 1.2 apg, 64.9% FG
Easily his best month of the year in the C’s uniform. Nate Robinson made his debut at the very end of February for the Green Teamers, becoming almost immediately the C’s primary scoring option off the bench, as well as someone who needed the ball in his hands to be effective. With that in mind, let’s take a look at Daniels’ numbers once Robinson arrived for the month of March:
17 games, 3.8 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.8 apg, 39% FG
Now, don’t get me wrong here. I’m not trying to blame Daniels’ struggles entirely on Robinson. TA obviously was stepping up his game at this juncture, and began to steal away some (and eventually all) of Daniels minutes by the end of the regular season, by doing the little things, (rebound, defense, etc.) with more urgency that Quisy was.
The combination of all these factors (injury, shifting role, new teammates) took their toll on Marquis throughout the campaign, as there always seemed to be one obstacle or another in his way.
3) Daniels can’t be counted on to stay healthy
The evidence is there right now in his career numbers (71 games career high) but Quisy is injury prone. There is no getting around it. And this Celtic team is planning on walking a very fine line with their older crew if they plan on going into next season with Quisy, Von Wafer and a rookie like Tony Gaffney at the wing position. Wafer has been an injury liability as well, and Gaffney, well we all know how much Doc trusts younger players.
The truth is, this area of the roster is more vulnerable than even the front line as far as the depth department goes. If Ray or Paul goes down for any extended period of time next year, this team could be in big trouble. So no matter what you expect out of Quisy next year, another sure thing at the wing should be brought in before the season starts to maximize the team’s depth and ability to keep Ray’s and Paul’s minutes down during the regular season.