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Sunday Scoutin’

Over at the mother ship, Marc Stein spoke to some scouts about happenings around the league, including the state of the Celtics. Here’s what he turned up.

Western Conference scout on the new Celtics:

“Have the Knicks and Nets passed them up? I’ll buy that. But I don’t think they’re going to fade away just yet. They were on a track (last season) like they were fading, but they’ve added … I don’t want to say younger legs but some quicker legs.

“People say there’s no fear factor any more with the Celtics, but I’m still a huge (Kevin) Garnett fan. Say what you want about him slowing down and all the huffin’ and puffin’ he does, but he covers up so many mistakes. All that little stuff he does. If he can stay healthy, they’ll be heard from (in the playoffs).

“The little passes to Rondo, the little drop-offs, illegal screens he sets that don’t get called for. And then defensively he covers up so many mistakes with his length, his ability to stop guards on pick-and-rolls, zoning up in the middle of the paint. It doesn’t surprise me that they drop off (defensively) so much when KG’s not out on the floor, because Jeff Green isn’t doing those things. Nobody (else) is.

“I don’t know if Paul Pierce can do it every night anymore, either, but when I see him I still think every shot is going in. All his misses feel like in-and-outs to me.”

One quick observation:

We’ve seen rallies in the recent performances of bench bigs: everyone from Chris Wilcox to Jeff Green to Jared Sullinger is playing more effectively. Still, none of the three projects as a dominant team defender or even a very good one. With Boston’s offensive capabilities less of a worry this season, the path through the playoffs could be cleared by an athletic big who can do a poor man’s version of Garnett for 20 minutes a night.

I’m not thinking of an Anderson Varejao, because his cost could be prohibitive. I’m thinking of an underperformer on another team who, like Green when he came to the Celtics two seasons ago, could see his defensive performance jump within Boston’s defensive schemes. If the Celtics aren’t willing to deal Sullinger or Avery Bradley — their two most appealing trade pieces — they’ll need to capitalize on some market inefficiencies to bolster their front line defense. The qualities to look for: athleticism, length and a predilection for blocking shots, even in short minutes.

  • -JP

    I think you mentioned the addition the Celtics need: Avery Bradley. He is a GREAT defender and can make a huge difference. He can take an opposing guard out of the game, and is efficient on offense as well. When Avery comes back and rounds into form, it will clean up a lot of mistakes too with opposing guards having more difficulty driving to the basket.

  • I bleed green

    Spot on commentary.

    Varejoa, wow, would that be awesome. Never, ever happen, but he's a one man rebounding solution and could even play with KG. Probablly also never happen, but somebody like Larry Sanders would be a great addition. He's a poor man's Ibaka, with the highest blocks/per in the league and a strong rebounder as well who is actually happy coming off the bench and playing limited minutes as an energy guy and he's still on his rookie contract (I believe).

    • Phil

      I would actually think Sanders would be better starting so he can play with KG. I don't think he has any kind of qualification to anchor the defense, but can you imagine him flying around while KG kept everything running perfectly? A Rondo/Bradley/Pierce/Sanders/KG line might set records. Plus, it's no problem to just play him with KG, because he'll foul out well before KG gets his 28 minutes.

      I don't have any idea what his value is, but I'd imagine it's out of the Celtic's range though. The packages they can offer basically jump from Lee and a 1st, right to Bradley. That's a big chasm where someone like Sanders probably falls.

  • Phil

    I think it was Zach Lowe who pointed out that the Cavs are likely to have less interest in Bradley than most teams given that their backcourt is set for the future with Irving/Waiters. That would basically rule out any kind of Varejao deal.

    I agree with most of what's said here too. The Celtics still need to prove that they haven't lost it, but they also shouldn't be written off.

    • Ryan DeGama

      Not sure about completely writing off the AV idea. You could spin Bradley off to a third team.

  • Morpheus

    What would the asking price for Emeka Okafor be? Obviously a guy who’s being undervaluedin Washington.

    • Phil

      I assume you could have Okafor for expiring contracts. Washington might even give something up to get them out of that extra year. The Cs have zero pieces that fit that kind of trade though. Their only expiring contract is Pierce outside of the minimum deals and Joseph's unguaranteed contract. You'd need to get up around 10m in salary going out.

      • Phil

        Nevermind, Pierce's deal isn't even expiring.

  • Ryan DeGama

    Another name to consider: Amir Johnson.

    • jpbl1976

      I don't know about Amir — Doc might put him behind Bass and Sully on the depth chart but the Wins Produced advanced stat suggests he's 3x more productive than Bass per 48 minutes:

      If we can get him for cheap, that'd be great but he'd only be effective if Doc gave him Bass' minutes.

    • Peter

      How about Samuel Dalembert ,he could be a beast in green.

    • Phil

      Interesting game today for Amir Johnson to say the least. If anyone didn't see it, lets just say Rondo's now in the #2 spot for on court ref confrontations. At least he never threw a mouth piece at them.

  • CelticsBIG3

    How about we just wait and see what happens when AB gets back….

    • janos

      hi big 3
      I am agree to this best aproach us. Avey Brady no reason trade at this point we are make speclate on our perfrom, without not see all pieces of team. only once team full is time grade perfrom

  • CG12

    As much as this team hasn't been taking the league by storm this year, I am very happy with what I have seen the last couple of games. There have been some stretches of that classic Celtics' D, which we saw precious little of earlier in the year. Courtney Lee has shown the skill set and focus to be an elite defender, both on the ball and in the team system. The play of the bigs on the pick-and-roll has been vastly improved. The weakside rotations are much crisper – we have seen a bunch of steals from the weakside guy rotating down at just the right time. Sullinger isn't quick, but has excellent timing and feel for when to head back to the paint. Bass stays up high way too long on p-n-r coverage, but is playing very energetic defense. When Avery gets back, it is going to be awesome to see some AB-Lee-PP/Green-Sully/Bass-KG combos on D.

    • CelticsBIG3

      Not to mention AB fights over screens which will make blitzes easier for the bigs to perform

      • CG12

        Very true. Unlike others on the Celtics. Lee is the same way, so I imagine that AB and Courtney will be able to significantly disrupt opposing offenses by preventing them from initiating offense when and where they want to. When the other team is just starting its half court offense with 12 left on the shot clock by throwing it to the wing from 10 feet beyond the top of the arc, that is a huge advantage to the defense. And that is the sort of thing we saw regularly with AB up the grill of opposing ballhandlers. Getting a little excited just writing about it.

        • CelticsBIG3

          The two of them together in a smallish Tommy-esque lineup (Rondo, Bradley, Lee, <insert effectively defending big here>, and Garnett) could really cause opposing offenses some serious headaches.

  • yeat

    K…MART…seems way to obvious

    • CelticsBIG3

      That guy is an asshole. Probably not the right guy for the job.

      • 2p2d

        We need more A-holes.

        • CelticsBIG3

          Bad kind of asshole. "Crappy lockerroom guy" asshole.

  • Tos

    Brendon Haywood, Tyrus Thomas, Tristian Thompson, or Jason Maxiell. Under-performers that could fit the bill potentially with relatively low value in the trade market.


    • Banner 18

      We really passed up on David West last season who can anchor the defense almost as well as KG. I think the most realistic options who can be of huge help are Reggie Evans, Jason Maxiell, or one of the three centers that Denver is hoarding. These all seem appealing, especially Maxiell who has a 5 mill. contract expiring at the end of this season. I also think they would accept a deal involving Barbosa. Detroit needs some selfish instant offense, right?

      • Phil

        The Celtics didn't pass on David West, Indy offered him more money (I believe more than the Celtics could offer,) and he took it. I recall that whole saga being rather misreported/misconstrued around Boston to the point where a lot of people thought West screwed over Boston, where in reality, Indy just offered a better deal.

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