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Preseason: The Be-All End-All for Some Celtics

 

Over the weekend, I found myself completely fascinated with the last training camp battle left undecided.  The battle to which I am referring is the battle for the final Celtics’ roster spot.  The 15th man.  The Lord of the practice gym.   The “Mr. Irrelevant” of NBA basketball rosters.

I was shocked when the Celtics cut Tony Gaffney.  He has a defensive mindset.  He showed in Summer League that he can guard NBA small forwards.  He’s freakishly athletic.  It just seemed as though Gaffney would have the advantage over the other guys the Celtics were and still are considering.  Instead, the battle still rages and will likely to continue through the preseason.  The Celtics are currently trying to decide between the underwhelming Von Wafer, practice favorite Mario West, and Gaffney’s fellow UMASS alumnus, Stephane Lasme.

That was a few days ago.  Now, I sit here and wonder why I even cared in the first place.  It is likely that none of these players will see more than garbage time this season.  Even with Delonte West’s ten game suspension, it is more likely that Doc will shorten his rotation rather than open it up to the likes of 15th men.

But maybe this battle is really not for the 15th man after all.  Maybe this becomes the audition for the 12th guy off the bench- something that changes things pretty dramatically.  After seeing him play in Summer League and the FIBA World Championships, Semih Erden still seems like a world-class stiff.  Someone who will  need at least a year of NBA seasoning to become serviceable.  There is also no guarantee that Luke Harangody will produce like he did in college- especially if he’s being asked to guard NBA small forwards.  Then there is the sidelined Avery Bradley, who may very well end up going the way of Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens.

Still, while the 12th man sees more floor time, he’s rarely an impact-player.  Maybe we are jaded.  The end of the bench has been sewn up for the past few seasons with Brian Scalabrine holding down the fort.

Maybe we are just dying for the regular season to start.  Maybe we want someone to come out of nowhere and make the C’s coaching staff look smart for picking him up (Sundiata Gaines anyone?).  Maybe it’s the former High School Junior Varsity star in all of us that says, “if he can do it, I bet I could” (you couldn’t).

Whatever it is that draws us to care about the Gaffney’s, Wafer’s, and West’s of the world, it will surely be satiated soon.  The preseason starts  tonight and the young/fringe guys will undoubtedly get some burn.  Who are you looking forward to watching?

Will Semih Erden be able to move laterally well enough to guard second string centers?  Will Luke Harangody get any run at the small forward spot?  Will Von Wafer find his shooting stroke?  Will Mario West show why all of his teammates (and Doc Rivers) love him in practice?

These are the questions (and more) we ask ourselves today because soon enough they become irrelevant.

  • http://www.livefromapt.blogspot.com w2

    The Turk is a stiff, but he might get better by practicing against the likes of KG and crew. My guess is that he makes the cut and same with Gody.

    If Von doesn’t look like he can play Celts defense or might be a tough guy if he doesn’t get a lot of burn, then Mario has it.

    I love preseason. I love hoops. I love to see a guy playing for a job. It adds an element of drama and a game within a game as the top level guys are working out the kinks and having some fun.

    In truth, I hate american football and baseball so preseason hoops is good enough for me!

  • Perry

    It would not surprise me to see the Sixers push hard for a win tonight; ditto NJ tomorrow. New coaching staffs always try to instill a winning attitude and younger teams always have more to prove at this stage. Naturally we’re focused on getting all the way to June so with the core remaining intact (minus Perk) it’s all about cohesiveness, rhythm and avoiding injury. But there are a few sidebars … how Shaq plays off Kevin … can KG assert himself in the post more than we’re accustomed to seeing … will they opt for less security at the 2 and go with Lasme, or can M. West defend both the guard and wing positions?

    Doc will always err on the side of caution when any minor injury comes up, and last night in Miami proved you can never have too much depth. I saw an experiment in the Magic-Rockets game where SVG used R. Lewis at the 3 with very successful results. Lebron playing a point forward could be a detriment when playing a team with a strong transition defense like the Celtics who don’t allow a ton of dunks and layups. The Wiz look improved and the Bulls could struggle for a while without a true post up game minus Boozer.

  • JP

    I’m excited to see how Shaq will do in this team’s offense. I think although Wafer hasn’t lit the world on fire yet, he still has some game left in him, hopefully he shows it tonight.

  • http://N/A Patrick G

    I like Mario West, but I would lean more towards Wafer to lock up the 15th spot. He does have the potential to play very well, I think maybe it’s his nerves getting the best of him.

    It’s not even a question that Luke & Semih will make the roster. Although I’m sure Luke won’t see a ton of minutes – I have faith he’ll be a better player than Big Baby. Luke has the fundamentals down on how to play PF, Baby still has yet to learn how to succesfully rebound & put the ball back in the hoop. Harongody understands his roll & has been doing it successfullly for years. Not only that, but he can play pick and roll much more successfully (at least at Notre Dame he did).

  • ElRoz

    Well, if Delote is not there the first 10 games…then they ought to keep Wafer, even if Daniels plays both SG and SF.

    I have nothing to say about Semih…except that Danyy Ainge must know way more than I. Semnih seems like Stoiko Vrancovic #2…remembr Stoiko?

  • NHBluesMan

    @W2- Gody and the Turk both have guaranteed contracts, there’s no ‘cut’ for them to make. He’s talking about Wafer, West, and Lasme competing for the final spot. 1-14 is set, it’s 15 that’s up in the air

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    Is the game on Comcast tonight? Or only NBA TV?

    I’ve been waiting too long to miss this one. Please.

  • Perry

    @ddtk … On CSN — tomorrow NBA TV.

    Anyone out of market should be able to watch the game on Directv. Last nights’ games were not blacked out.

    Here’s another link if you don’t have the sports band…

    http://atdhe.net/index.html

  • Jeff in Portland

    Having seen Mario West play for the Red Claws before he hooked on in Atlanta last season, I know what teammates and coaches see in him, though I can’t measure him against any of the other candidates. Given his position, it’s hard to believe they have room for him on their roster this year, unfortunately.

  • ed judson

    With Perk, DWest and Bradley out to start the season, the 15th guy, Erden and Harangody will all dress.

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    @Perry: thanks. almost game-time.

  • Perry

    Yes … Enjoy!

  • http://www.basketballcheap.com complexity

    Ray Ray!

  • I love Green

    PERRY YOUR LINK ISN’T WORKING!!!

  • I love Green

    Nothing is working!!!

  • I love Green

    Yessssssss I found one. Let us rejoice, the journey has begun.

  • Rangatiratanga

    Semi actually playing alright tonight and Baby with 9pts,4 boards and 3 steals.Seems as though Philly are suffocating from our DEFENSE.

  • Rangatiratanga

    LOL Philly shooting 16% from the field,we’re shooting above 50%.

  • Dave

    Gaffney is not freakishly athletic and proved he COULDN’T guard small forwards in the summer league. Both West and Lasme are far superior athletes. And Gaffney might have the worst offensive game of any player I ever saw.

    The Turk already looks more like a NBA player than Gaffney ever will. Score one for any Ainge again.

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