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Defending Von Wafer

 

AP Photo

There are now five preseason games on record containing a slew of rim-rocking dunks, into-the-first-row blocks, and some impressive displays of athleticism.  All of these crowd-pleasing exploits can be attributed to a player vying for the role as Celtics head cheerleader: Stephane Lasme.

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.

  • Stephe

    Factoring the amount of minutes the 15th rotation player gets, is points per 48 a valuable stat? Seems like an energizer bunny-type defender at the 3/4 is much more valuable than a foul drawer for that role, no?

  • http://CelticsHub.com Brendan Jackson

    I think it's too soon to tell what kind of player Wafer will be this season and I have totally seen him tentative. Still, he has been attacking the basket a ton this preseason and I'm afraid the Cs will be too thin on the wing. The Celtics have put Harangody, Davis, and Lasme on wings this preseason but I doubt they can really guard explosive/athletics wings. They are too used to standing straight up. I'm not saying either should make the team over the other, I just think it's a tougher decision to make than everyone thinks it is.

  • tk3

    we need to sign von wafer and give him good run for the first 10 games delonte west is suspended.
    think about it i doubt stephane lasme will get any run when the season actually starts but we would need wafer to come in and play minutes. when given minutes hes a good point maker like a poor mans jr smith.

    the only thing hes lacking right now is confidence and he hasnt played good organized basketball in awhile since he got cut from his euro-league team. if he gets his confidence back we could have a solid 15-18 minute a game, maybe 20+ if he gets hot, 2 guard that could average close to 10 ppg off the bench for us

  • Berkcelt

    I agree that Wafer appears to bring a more useful skillset. But it looked like he got yanked last night for not playing D, and he's had a bad vibe since preseason opened. It's a tough call, and even though it seems relatively unimportant, it won't if we lose a guard/wing like you said. I'm almost tempted to say leave it open although I guuess if Lasme is unguaranteed it's not too prohibitive to keep him on the roster.

  • KBA

    Ray and esp PP should not be handling the ball… seen them screw it up too often over the last couple of years

    • DeVelaine

      I never said they'd be great options, I just said that they can if needed.

  • koolaid

    They can not cut Lasme. I actually think he will be a net plus over TA. He is more versatile (can play the 3 or 4 on O, and can guard 2s,3s,4s). He has same skill set and limitations as TA, the difference is he knows to play within those limitations… never shoot outside the paint, and never try to create off the dribble. Note: TA drew all his fouls on the break or on cuts, Lasme will do the same when he learns the flow of the offense and players.

    That said, I was excited about Von coming in. Why has he gotten no PT? I can only guess Doc has already decided something…. just not sure what.

    What I'd do is send Harangody to the Dleague to start the season. He played huge last night, but he won't get any minutes when everyone is suited up. Keep Wafer and Lasme until Delonte comes back and then make decisions. (Not sure if that would mean they need to guarantee wafer or lasme all year? could impact that plan)

  • NHBluesMan

    I'm all for Lasme. Like you said, he's got a freakish wingspan and athleticism which translates to defense… sound like anyone else on this team? oh yeah, Rondo!

    Lasme comes to play hard every night (reminds me of Powe in this case). He could play defense at the 3 if we need him to, and he does bring the intangibles that others might now. I don't think we have much of a chance of seeing the Wafer who was with the Rockets than we do of seeing the Lasme who is with the Celtics here and now

  • willybeamin

    see I love the way nate is playing as a scorer and playmaker so far this preseason, I want to see more of that.

  • Perry

    There was an old saying before Tony Allen left … 'when he enters a game things will change.'

    We just never knew if it was for the better or worse, and the bad Tony Allen was turning my hair grey.

    So are we really going to stress over losing his knack for getting to the line? Any scoring he would muster up was always considered an added bonus. Although his skill set matched Rondo's in the open court therein lies the problem … you couldn't play them in tandem in the half court since teams would back off and clog up the middle.

    Even before Delonte arrived I never thought Wafer was a lock to make the roster. Now with a back court rotation of West/NR, and Bradley to mop up, I don't see any cracks in that department.

    Wafer has not looked for his offense in the pre season, so it's difficult to make a sound assessment on whether or not he could stick, but I think he's falling prey to a numbers game similar to what happened to Gaffney. You really have to be impressed with Bradley's foot work on defense, and although his shot isn't going down his form looks fluid.

    Clearly Lasme has Doc's attention, and his small sample at Miami last year shows his offensive numbers are close to TA's. Still, it may make sense to gamble on Wafer because of Delonte's suspension and waive Lasme. If he's not claimed he can be signed to the Red Claws. I don't understand why Sasha Pavlovic remains out of work. He could fit in nicely at the 2 and 3 spots. Another real value at the league minimum.

  • kel

    Wafer looks to make the extra pass too much, he needs to show that he can score. He must be taking what Doc says to the team "make the extra pass" too directly. He needs more to build up his confidence, although that time is running short. If, and its a big if, Wafer shows signs of playing like we've seen in the past he would be a more valuable player then Lasme for the Celts at this point. It would be great to have a second pure 2 guard on the squad behind Ray. But….

    LASME! I love this guy, how could you not? He is raw and we need to keep him in the Celtics system. If Wafer does not at least step up his confidence Lasme will make this team. He's a smaller more atheltic Powe. And I don't know if you've noticed but we haven't had an athletic big in quite some time.

  • MoBetterGreen

    Can we stop with the Wafer comparisons when he was in Houston….sheesh.

    • http://celticshub.com Brendan Jackson

      Sorry MBG, it's the only data out there and the only reason the Celtics gave him a shot. These are fair comparisons.

  • Sami282

    I love the energy of Lasme and knowing his story it's kind of like Leon Powe you just find yourself rooting for the guy. However the truth is with Delonte out the first 10 games we need a guard insurance policy and I think Wafer is that. I'm also pretty sure we could keep Lasme and assign him to Maine, right?

  • Lucas Shapiro

    I've always been one to support Von Wafer, but if I were to judge solely off of the preseason, I would have to go with Lasme.

    I just wish we could find a way to keep both of these guys.

  • ego roots

    Good argument, but not good enough. Lasme is the best and closest replacement to TA right now. Hell, defensively, he's like a combo of TA and Posey because, like Posey when he was here, he can handle playing the 4 spot.
    And not to mention that Lasme has better basketball IQ than Wafer from what we're seeing so far…

  • pam

    the first ten games could be thought of as a positive instead of the negative everyone else is thinking it it. it gives us a chance to see what we could expect from avery bradley. rondo isnt going to play as few minutes as the big three anyway so the number of minutes that are going to go to the backup pg would be about 10 max. i think we could easily see avery slot in for 10 minutes a game for the first ten games. if he plays badly we just continue with the current thought that he is a long term project. if he plays well, we get a steal from the draft. the only issue is if we have nate coming in as a backup 2, we lose a hell of a lot of size against slightly larger 2s. again since this is for the first 10 games it could be ok. im just shit scared in the first game against miami, if wade is fit, we could possibly have nate guarding him. haha

  • Filipe Furtado

    "but if a guard goes down this season the Celtics are going to look pretty thin."

    I'm not claiming we should cut Wafer and keep Lesme (I haven't seen enough pre season to have an opinion), but if the argument is position need Lesme, a more natural SF, would have a good advantage over Wafer. We are not thin at guard, we have 3 combo guards (Nate, Delonte and Bradley) that can play SG, but we only have one backup SF (Daniels, who also can play SG) and I'd bet in getting 80 games by KG before beting in 65 by Queasy. Wafer can play SF if Marquis is hurt, but I'd argue Lesme would fill that hole better. Wafer obviously has a specific skill set (instant offense) the team really needs, but that has nothing to do with position need.

  • JP-

    I like the point about the first ten games without Delonte, maybe we can keep Lasme in Portland or something? We do need a back up SF for Pierce, since Quisy will most likely get hurt, but I am not sure that Lasme has enough to be that back up anyway. It might be better to go a little smaller with a 3 guard lineup for short periods of time, when an opposing SF's backup is out there.

  • lakerhater13

    I believe the position we are weakest at is SF. So isnt Lasme a no brainer. With the combo of luke and lasme i believe that could make baby expendable if the right trade pops up. If we can get a guy like rudy fernandez then we might be able to trade baby. Plus a guy like wafer will not defend wade or lebron. If you look at lasme he is similar on defense to Deng of the bulls. Deng did a great job on lebron in the first round last year. No one will ever shut down lebron but defenders that can play him well are extremely valuable. Plus besides the lack of depth at SF we are also lacking in athletic guys. We made up for our lack of athleticism by signing 3 centers but we still need quick defenders with size to guard the joe johnsons and carmelos of the world. I think lasme is a no brainer. Bradley can back up at the 1 or 2 if guys go down.

    • koolaid

      we don't want or need fernandez. delonte is a million times better.

      agree with you on baby though….he is our best backup 4, but also the most likely candidate to be packaged by the deadline.

      lamse is the new (and improved) TA

  • SteveB

    Just by watching the games I've been very impressed with Lasme so far. When I look at the stats for the Knicks game however, his plus/minus was -13 in fifteen minutes playing time. I am not a big stat guy since there are intangibles but just wanted to throw that out there. I do think Lasme has shown what he can do and would think that Wafer should get some playing time, especially with Rondo and a few starters. My personal vote would be to keep Lasme as that athletic wing the Celtics have been lacking lately.

  • http://celticsblog.com kobeshesnotconsentin

    in wafer i really like what we have in a skillset as opposed to lasme, who's a bit redundant in what we have in daniels. I know everyones always gonna bring up daniel's inuries BUT just humor me. IF daniels could stay healthy this year, say like 70/75 games, and keep up the high level of play he started last year with, would this many people really still want lasme over a potentially explosive scorer in wafer? Do all these people just want lasme as insurance for quis? or possible replacement? (replacement would seem ridiculous to me)

  • MoBetterGreen

    I think the majority here believe or have seen that Lasme has performed better in pre season than Wafer,save the last game against Toronto.

  • Jabad

    I don't know if anyone is mentioned this, but I'm pretty sure we can send Lasme down to the NBDL with the Maine Red Claws. He'd be willing to do it because his family is in the area and he can stay in the US and still play ball. This gives us more time to evaluate Wafer over the beginning of the season. Especially with Delonte out the first 10 games, Wafer will get more time with the second unit. If he doesn't pan out, it would be pretty easy to cut him even though he gets the non-guaranteed part of his contract. Keeping Lasme in the NBDL will allow us to bring him up if (when) anyone gets injured during the season.

  • bobo

    I can see Lasme eating up some minutes and fouls guarding players like LBJ,Anthony,or any pesty player that is giving one of our starters a handful.He can be used at least 3 backup positions if needed.Whereas Wafer is a one demensional player.It makes more sense to take the most efficient defensive player that can rebound over a one trick pony…especially when one of our main problems last season was lack of rebounding from the bench.

  • Kel

    Lasme a 3? What games are you guys watching? He is a banger down low and has no shot guarding 3s in the NBA. I love the guy but come on (in no one way am I saying Wafer can) Lasme can play the four and that is it.

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