I’m a basketball junkie, but even I might have said no to this project: Finding the five worst rotation players in the history of each current NBA franchise. But Tom Haberstroh, writing for ESPN.com (insider), accepted the challenge. Before you read the lists, understand this: Haberstroh was after the worst rotation players in franchise history—guys who actually played significant minutes in at least one season. Permanent bench warmers were not eligible.
Brendan has already revealed that everyone’s favorite 12th man is on the C’s Feeble Five list.
Should he be there?
Here’s the list:
Poor Scal. On the one hand, the numbers are ugly, and they were uglier in 2010 than ever before. Scal is a power forward who can’t score or rebound, and it’s hard to put that sort of player on the court for long. But Scal did manage at least 10 minutes per game in four of his five seasons in Boston! And his defenders—and there are many—would say Scal’s value does not show up in traditional statistics. He makes the right pass! He’s in the right place on defense! He can space the floor! Remember that time he had to guard Josh Smith and he did pretty well!
And those people (sort of) have a point. In 2007, when Scal averaged 19 minutes per game, the C’s were just as “good” with him on the floor as with him on the bench—on both offense and defense. In the 2009 regular season, when Scal had to play increased minutes down the stretch because of KG’s injury, the C’s actually performed better with Scal on the floor.
Did that last into the playoffs, when the C’s faced the Bulls and Magic?
Not really, though Scal certainly didn’t kill Boston in the ’09 post-season. The C’s defense gave up nearly 6 more points per 100 possessions with Scal on the floor—a huge and awful number—but they scored about 4.5 points more per 100 possessions with Scal in the line-up, according to Basketball Value. Again: He was a nearly neutral presence, though that neutral plus/minus actually represented a huge step down for Boston; the starters, particularly Rajon Rondo, outscored the opposition handily in the ’09 playoffs. Things fell apart when the C’s tossed in a few back-ups, including Scal.
In any case: I’ve got no problem with Scal’s presence on this list. He played a lot of minutes and produced very little.
Some other notes:
• You see Jim Loscutoff’s name on there? The Celtics actually retired his number*! The Celtics have to be the only team in any sport who could have a player whose number they retired pop up later on a list of the very worst rotation players in team history. In their defense, Loscy’s toughness, defense and rebounding were considered important ingredients on those early C’s teams.
*They didn’t actually retire his number. They tried to, but Loscutoff, who played for seven Boston championship teams, wanted future Celtics to be able to wear his #18 jersey. Dave Cowens eventually did, and the C’s retired it to honor Cowens. They have a banner bearing Loscutoff’s nickname—Loscy—instead of his number.
• Acie Earl was the 19th pick of the 1993 draft, and you can’t really take issue with the pick. The next five picks, in order: Scott Burrell, James Robinson, Chris Mills, Ervin Johnson, Sam Cassell. Not much there, save Cassell.
Another thing about Earl: He once scored 40 points in a game, which might be the most random 40-point game in NBA history. It happened in 1996, when Earl was playing for the Raptors, and it came against….the Celtics. Take heart: Boston won the game 136-108, as David Wesley, Todd Day, Dana Barros, Dee Brown, Rick Fox and Greg Minor all went for at least 16 points. What an awful team.
• Eric Montross makes the list for Detroit. The Celtics drafted Montross #9 in the ’94 draft, meaning they selected Earl and Montross with consecutive first round picks. Good times. Players taken later included: Eddie Jones (#10), Jalen Rose (#13)…and that’s pretty much it for players who make you regret that your team drafted Eric Montross in the lottery. After the first three picks (Big Dog Robinson, Kidd, Grant Hill), the ’94 draft was awful.
• Greg Kite, a reserve on the ’84 and ’86 Boston teams (and, like Danny Ainge, a Mormon), makes the list for the Magic.
• Joe Kleine, whom the C’s acquired (along with Ed Pinckney) in 1989 in exchange for Danny Ainge, makes the Phoenix list.
• Those of you who want James Posey back, take note: His 2010 campaign was bad enough to land him on Haberstroh’s Hornets list.
• Charlie Scott makes the Denver list. Scott was a star in the ABA and a key member of the C’s 1976 title team. Boston dealt him to the Lakers in ’78 in exchange for Kermit Washington and Don Chaney.
Have a good weekend!