The four of us at CelticsHub fielded five questions on the C’s for ESPN today (along with the esteemed Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston).
Here’s our answer to #1:
1. For which Celtics player is the 2011-12 season most important?
Hayes Davenport, CelticsHub: Rajon Rondo. He’s lived off potential for a long time, but probably not for much longer. If he doesn’t emerge as the team’s best player and cultural co-leader this season, he’s unlikely to be capable of carrying the Celtics beyond a low playoff seed in the post-Garnett era.
Ryan DeGama, CelticsHub: Rajon Rondo. Last season, the league’s view of Rondo seemed to shift away from his proficiencies as a defender and passer and toward his failings: consistency, willingness to attack the basket and free throw shooting. That’s problematic for the self-styled “best PG in the game.” Is he a franchise player or not? Time to sort that out.
Chris Forsberg, ESPN Boston: Kevin Garnett. He’ll turn 36 this season and there’s a ton of miles on those tires (the regular-season minutes odometer stands at 43,915, 15th-most in league history). Garnett has acknowledged the finish line might be near, but he’s still vital to the Celtics’ championship hopes, even as his body struggles to withstand the rigors.
Brendan Jackson, CelticsHub: Rajon Rondo. The Celtics’ point guard is the heir apparent and the only future of this team. If he doesn’t solidify himself as a top-tier player on his own (i.e., dishing to JaJuan Johnson and Jeff Green and not Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett), then his legacy (and trade value) will plummet.
Brian Robb, CelticsHub: Rajon Rondo. With an aging Big Three that can struggle to create its own offense, the C’s All-Star point guard will be instrumental in creating regular easy opportunities for his teammates. Consistency has always been the biggest issue for the up-and-down Rondo, and that problem must be overcome in order for the Celtics to remain a contender.
Also, John Hollinger scouts the Celtics today (insider). An excerpt from his look at Kevin Garnett:
Where Garnett really shines is on defense. Opposing power forwards sometimes got numbers on him, but that was because KG was busy shutting down other players with his help defense.
The Celtics, already a great defensive team, gave up 6.19 points per 100 possessions fewer with Garnett on the floor, according to basketballvalue.com. His Synergy numbers sparkled (among power forwards, only Chicago’s Taj Gibson outrated him) and the more advanced “regularized” adjusted plus-minus metric estimated he was worth more than six points per 100 possessions to Boston’s defense — the most of any player in the NBA last season.
Programming Note: beginning tomorrow, we’ll be looking at the holdovers on the roster, beginning with Avery Bradley.