Moving along to part two.
But first, an atrocious musical interlude:
Seriously, could they have put any less effort into that?
Best just to move on.
Paul Pierce – Pierce’s stats are excellent but they hardly tell the story of what #34 means to this team. For four years, Pierce has surrendered touches and played every conceivable role, all in the interest of winning. So, what do you get for the guy who means everything? How about the one thing that seems to have slipped from his game – his first step. If he could take guys off the dribble the way he did when he was 25, we’d have an MVP candidate on our hands.
Actually, we might already have one. Gifts for the rest of the starters after the jump.
Kevin Garnett – The Big Ticket is easy to shop for this year. He gets MVP consideration for his work so far. We’ve always given Pierce and Ray Allen plenty of credit for their willingness to sacrifice personal offensive numbers for team glory. But their commitment to locking down the other team’s best scorers, and playing within the team concept on defense? On that topic, I’ve always seen Garnett as the leader, and everyone else as the followers. Numbers do Pierce a disservice but they flat-out insult Garnett.
Ray Allen - Allen gets another three or four years as good as this one. That’s less a gift than a prediction. Would anyone really be surprised if we were still watching Allen in a Celtics uniform, running baseline routes and draining threes when he’s 38 or 39? It seems a distinct possibility. If you were betting on any player to maintain a high level of play into his late thirties, you’d almost certainly be looking at Allen (and Steve Nash, who may be the only other guy in the league as well-conditioned).
Rajon Rondo – Rondo gets one shot he can nail relentlessly – even under pressure. What do you think? The three-ball from the top of the arc? A fifteen-foot pull-up out of a dead sprint? Or how about the jumpshot from the right elbow? Give him that one and all those heated conversations about best point guard in the NBA get a whole lot more interesting for Celtics’ fans. And Rondo becomes nigh unstoppable on the pick and roll. That’s right, pal. Nigh.
Shaquille O’Neal – Having conducted the Boston Pops this week, The Big Consultant wants nothing more than a chance to go face-to-chest with Kobe Bryant in June, so he can lock down his fifth championship and prevent Bryant from getting his sixth. So, let’s give it to him. We’ve already seen a motivated Shaq turn back the clock a few times this year before Christmas. Can you imagine his intensity staring down his arch-rival six months from now, when the lights are brightest?
Kendrick Perkins – Perk deserves nothing more than a full return to health by the playoffs, with no limitations on his mobility, defensive proficiency or proclivity to scowl at even the slightest of wrongdoings on the court. And if he plays nice with Shaq over the starter’s job at the center position, and stays focused on what’s best for the team, we’ll even throw in the ability to knock down a few extra free throws. That can’t hurt him come contract negotiation time this summer.