For a long time, Von Wafer seemed to be the sure-fire bet to make this roster as journeyman Mario West and relative unknown in NBA circles, Lasme, became late additions to a training camp already boasting a pretty stacked roster. This reality made it difficult to believe that any end-of-the-bench players, even ones with guaranteed contracts and secured roster spots, were going to make a significant impact this preseason. And then Lasme got on the court.
Stephane Lasme defies logic. He is just over 6’5″ without shoes and played a weird center/power forward hybrid for the University of Massachusetts. This big man in a guard’s body has blocked the most shots out of any player in UMASS history (yes, even Marcus Camby) due in large part to his 7’2″ wingspan. He has brought that kind of defense to the Celtics preseason squad. In short time in five preseason games, Lasme has collected 14 rebounds and 3 blocks.
If his on-court production were not enough to get you on the “Sign Lasme now” bandwagon, as loyal reader DeVelaine has pointed out, there is also a feel-good aspect to Lasme’s story.
These are all pretty impressive feats for a guy who spent the past couple years overseas and some spot duty with the Miami Heat back in the 2007-2008 season. It appears that Lasme is making the strongest impression on the Celtics and provides the biggest obstacle in the way of Von Wafer getting his entire contract guaranteed.
Before the Celtics give the keys to their 15th roster spot over to Lasme, they should be reminded that they have not found a suitable replacement for Tony Allen. Allen brought many things to the table- defense, out of control dribbling, freakish athleticism, bone-headed plays- but one thing that gets overlooked is how often he was able to draw fouls.
Allen was able to draw fouls at a rate of 18.4%- the highest of any Celtic guard last year. Due to poor free throw shooting (60%), Allen was only able to produce 3.9 points per 48 minutes. Still, his ability to attack the basket and draw fouls played a vital role in the success of the Celtic bench.
Now, with TA gone, there is only one player currently on the roster that can match that kind of production. Yep, you guessed it: Von Wafer. In 2008-2009, Wafer’s final full season in the NBA, he drew fouls at a rate of 9.9%- nearly half the rate of TA. That said, due to a higher free throw percentage (75%), Wafer was able to produce nearly the same amount of points per 48 minutes (3.5).
Another factor to consider is Wafer’s main basketball ability: shooting the long ball. Compare Wafer’s 9.9% to other shooters- Ray Allen (6.7%), Eddie House (2.1%), Kyle Korver (4.1%)- and it looks astronomical.
I know the sexy pick is Lasme right now but energy and defense is just about the only thing he is going to be able to provide. Wafer seems multi-dimensional enough for the Celtics to feel comfortable. He is also already 10-13 from the line in this preseason.
Neither of these guys are going to play significant minutes, but if a guard goes down this season the Celtics are going to look pretty thin.
*all statistics were provided by the indispensable 82games.com.