C’s Roll In Opener

One step closer to an 82-0 season!

One step closer to an 82-0 season!

With all the action going on in college football, the NFL and MLB, I didn’t have a chance to look at the Celtics this preseason. I had heard whispers that they were running a new offense featuring lots of three point shots and early offense. This would be in stark contrast to last season where they spend the second half of the season spitting in the wind of advanced statistics and focusing on offensive rebounds. It was an abject failure as they lost an astounding 57 games. So here is the first of many post game installments on Celticsnuts of “The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly where we give a quick recap of the game with some thoughts on what worked and what did not.

The Good: Well, pretty much everything. Rondo returned from an arm injury and looked in midseason form, spending the first half dishing to teammates for buckets and the second half penetrating for an array of circus shots in the paint. Marcus Thornton looked like the Celtics version of JR Smith scoring 10 points in 10 minutes of first half action. 10 Celtics scored in the first half as they cruised to a 67-51 lead at the break. In the second half it was more of the same as 8 players scored in double figures (the last time the Celtics had this many in double figures was 2002) lead by Kelly Olynyk who finished with 19/6/2, Rondo finished with 13/12/7, and rookie Marcus Smart added 10 in his NBA debut. The Celtics walked away with an easy 121-105 win.

The Bad: Deron Williams and Joe Johnson combined for 38 points, but looked godawful on defense and generally slow to every key spot on the floor. The Nets will surly be a different team when their 7 foot center and 20/10 player Brook Lopez returns, but they looked like lottery fodder tonight, unable to even slow down a Celtic team thats not exactly the early 2000′s Suns. Marcus Smart finished with 3 of 7 shooting, which is something to keep an eye on. If he can’t shoot his future in the league is going to depend in his ability to defend.

The Ugly: Marcus Thornton’s head. Poor dude is going bald something bad and has decided not to do anything to mask it. High definition is not kind to this poor man’s scalp.

So onward and upward for the Celtics who will travel to Houston Saturday to take on the clown prince of basketball in Dwight Howard and his three point shooting teamattes. Expect a much stiffer test and it will be interesting to see if this offense can carry over against a tough opponent on the road.

The Celtics take on the Rockets and the clown prince of the NBA Saturday

The Celtics take on the Rockets and the clown prince of the NBA Saturday

The End Of NBA Players In FIBA Play?

We may never again see a team if NBA players representing our country in FIBA play

We may never again see a team of NBA players representing our country in FIBA play

Joe Theismann. Thats the first thing I thought of when Paul George suffered his horrific lower leg break in the Team USA scrimmage tonight in Las Vegas. The second thing I thought of was, this was the last time we will ever see NBA players participating in FIBA basketball with Team USA or any other country. There is just too much at stake. George is in the middle of a contract that will pay him nearly 80 million over the next five years. He’s an up and coming star and the Indiana Pacers most important player. This is a massive blow to the NBA and a catastrophic one to the Pacers.

Will we ever see this again in the NBA?  One can only hope

Will we ever see this again in the NBA? One can only hope

I admit I have always been a fan of NBA players playing in the FIBA tournaments. We are the country that invented basketball and it only seemed right that we send our best players to these tournaments to prove our supremacy. The possibility of injury was always in the back of the mind of any fan of the NBA, and owners like Mark Cuban publicly expressed his dislike for the risk. Like all sports, there is always a risk of serious injury anytime a game, practice, pick up game or scrimmage is played. This one happened on national television, shocking all those who watched and reduced several members of team USA to tears. Tears for their fallen teammate, and tears for the demonstration that they too could see their careers go up in smoke in the blink of an eye. For something they are not getting paid to do.

The sad scene in Las Vegas tonight

The sad scene in Las Vegas tonight

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. I expect Cuban to be the most vocal and first to demand NBA players stop their association with Team USA. And despite the fact that I love watching the best basketball players on the planet team up and compete against the best the rest of the world has to offer, I can’t say I would blame him. The NBA is a business, and these massive contracts aren’t handed out for charity. They are given with the expectation of a return of great play, added wins for the franchise and money in the pockets of owners and everyone employed by the NBA. If this had happened at any NBA sanctioned event or a player training to become a better NBA player, no one would blink an eye…..its the cost of doing business in the league. But this was preparation for a FIBA tournament, and at the very least would be putting additional wear and tear all players participating. Now we have a player who has suffered a career threatening injury. Its tragic, and on its face completely avoidable.

The fallout should be interesting to say the least. Even if the NBA was to allow their players to compete, one wonders how many players will continue after witnessing the tragedy during the Las Vegas scrimmage. I would expect that basketball stanchions will be moved back several feet to allow players more room to fall on contested plays at the basket. I assume there will be serious discussions between the NBA and Team USA about continuing their partnership.

Nothing good came out of the events at the Thomas and Mack Center tonight.

Will this be the last gold medal for NBA participants?

Will this be the last gold medal for NBA participants?

Building a Winner in the NBA

NBA_Trophy2

The entire NBA game is about building assets.  

The only team I saw win without doing that in my life is the LeBron Heat (Shaq’s Lakers were build with assets around him).  Shaq, LeBron, and Bosh were the only free agents to be grabbed without assets that lead to Championships.  I would argue the Heat with LeBron and Bosh were facilitated by first round picks. Even the Lakers are religious about grabbing assets.

Opportunities arise with you have a bag full of assets (expiring contracts, trade exceptions, and picks).  Also there is developing your talent Spurs style (I would argue the early 2000s Pistons had a grab bag as well).

There are three ways to win in the NBA since the cap was introduced:

Build a team with an existing star you drafted and trade assets to gather players around them (17 times 80s Lakers and Celtics, 90s Bulls and Rockets,  2000s Lakers, Mavericks, and Celtics)

Build a team around a player you drafted and role players you developed (7 times Pistons and Spurs).  You need a killer coach to do this

Build a team around a guard and luring free agents to you ( 5 times arguably the early 2000s Lakers with Shaq and 2010s Heat)

The third I would still argue is more the second and first.   In order to do it you need an attractive destination with super star power coach/front office (Riley and Jackson) and hands off owners.  If the Knicks ever got cap space and Dolan disappeared they could conceivably  do it.

The anchor players on these Championship teams were Bird, Magic, Isiah Thomas, Jordan, Olajawon, Robinson, Kobe, No one (Really the Pistons were a grab bag of role players that fit perfectly together, Billups, Rasheed, Hamiton, Ben Wallace had all bounced around.  Three of the four were on the Wizards before they went to Detroit, Prince I guess was the drafted anchor), Duncan, Wade, Pierce, Nowitzki

So basically 3 of the all time 5 best players Jordan, Bird, Magic
3 top 50 All time Players that were Centers – Olajuwon, Robinson, Duncan (PF/C)
1 top 50 All time Player that was a SG – Kobe
1 HoF SF – Pierce
1 HoF PF – Nowitzki
1 HoF SG – Wade
1 HoF PG – Isiah Thomas

And the Bad News Bears of NBA champions.

So basically:

1) Brad Stevens needs to become Larry Brown, 
2) Rajon Rondo has to become Isiah Thomas,  
3) The Celtics need to luck out and draft a future HoF then use assets to build around him whether it be:
      a) developing role players 
      b) or trading for pieces.

Those are the four ways this team will win another Championship.  

Note the drafted anchor does not have to be the best player on his team.  Wade, Pierce, and the first three for Kobe, they were not the best player.  They were just good enough to lure talent around them.  They were all wing players that attracted top 25 All Time Players to their teams.  Hell Wade did it twice.  Also none of the three were top 3 picks.  5, 10, 13.

In fact of the drafted anchors 4 were No. 1 picks, 1 No. 2,  1 No. 3,  1 No. 6, 1 No. 9 as well the 5, 10, and 13.

The main thing about the guards that were anchors is that they all had a raging competitive streak. Jordan, Wade, Thomas, Kobe.  Bird had one as well.  

My guess is the Celtics best hope right now is Marcus Smart (best case stronger Dwayne Wade?)

Random NBA Thoughts

Time to empty the desk drawer of my NBA mind

Time to empty the desk drawer of my NBA mind

Random thoughts on the NBA as Summer league action winds down:

The Pacers are headed for disaster. Not only did they decide to keep Frank Vogal, even though even the most causal observer knew he had completely lost control of his team on the eve of the playoffs, they have continued to hitch their wagon to Roy Hibbert and his 14 million dollar contract. He looks about as cooked as a steak at a truck stop diner, and unless he turns it completely around, their fortunes will ride with him and his wobbly legs. They will miss Lance Stevenson and his kisses which will put enormous pressure on Paul George to make the leap from all star to superstar, a role that doesn’t seem to fit his personality. They are headed to a freefall, which is a tough feat to accomplish in the putrid Eastern conference.

The Pacers can kiss goodbye to their status as contenders for the NBA title

The Pacers can kiss goodbye to their status as contenders for the NBA title

It seemed awful convenient that the Celtics second first round pick James Young suffered a concussion and was not able to participate in summer league action. For a player some, like myself, thought got drafted so high based solely on clutch shooting in the NCAA tournament, his absence allowed him to not get exposed by players drafted after him, or not at all. Or maybe he did suffer a concussion. Either way, its not good for the player or the Celtics as he needs all the experience he can get to prepare for this season, where he will probably be asked, as a 19 year old, to contribute. Youth is death in the NBA, and fares even worse if its not prepared. Unless something magical happens the Celtics are headed for a long season with losses piling up and another trip to the ping pong derby.

This is the most exciting moment of James Young's NBA career so far

This is the most exciting moment of James Young’s NBA career so far

Speaking of the Celtics, does anyone else think that these moves they are making, or lack thereof, might be sign the owners are getting ready to sell the team? They have stripped the team of any long term contracts other than the coach, and have accumulated several draft picks that would allow the next owner to build a team on his terms. Or maybe these owners are in for the long haul and prepared for an extended rebuild. Are they ready to take that kind of a hit to their wallet? My guess is no, and time will tell, but after seeing the Clippers sell for a billion dollars, it has to be awfully enticing for this ownership to see how much money could be made in a sale.

An NBA team is worth an all time high after the billion dollar sale of the Clippers

An NBA team is worth an all time high after the billion dollar sale of the Clippers

If the Cavs aren’t able to make a deal for Kevin Love, I think it could be a while before they’re contending for a title. Lebron James just got smoked in the NBA finals with a team where he was surrounded by 2 hall of famers and several hired guns with specific skill sets designed to make the team championship timber. James has never been on an offense first team, and even if they DO make the Love trade, they will be now. I can’t imagine this transition will be an easy or quick one for James or the Cavs, who have a coach thats never spent a second steering and NBA ship. From a PR standpoint, the choice to return home was a slam dunk for James, but I believe he’s in for a rude awakening when he finally hits the court with that roster.

Lebron James is going to miss his teammates in Miami more than he, or others think

Lebron James is going to miss his teammates in Miami more than he, or others think

I can’t make up my mind if these summer league games are meaningful tools to judge young NBA players or throwaway exhibitions. The point of each contest isn’t to win the game, its a chance for each player to showcase his talents to his own team or one that might want to trade for him or sign him to a contract overseas. This creates a situation where players that are high draft picks or already in an NBA rotation are playing with much less urgency than those who are not. I suppose the best course of action is to take them for the small sample size they are and wait til the games actually count to properly evaluate their play.

Does this mean anything?

Does this mean anything?

And finally kudos to Adam Silver and the NBA for at least considering changing the lottery process and making it less likely teams will be trying to lose games near the end of the season. I feel this is the biggest problem facing the NBA, and the fact that, unlike David Stern, they are at least pondering changes, gives me hope. Hope that I won’t turn on a game in April and think “is this team trying to win this game or lose it?”. Bad for the NBA, bad for the fan, and just plain old bad business.

The saddest ritual in all of sports...the super bowl of losing

The saddest ritual in all of sports…the super bowl of losing

A Consumer Guide to the 2014-15 Celtics

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The NBA offseason is a consumer and lifestyle decision for many fans. You’ve got ticket prices, ticket packages, season tickets, cable bills, League Pass, and League Pass Broadband. You’ve got to budget your time, plan vacations, adjust your evening workload, raise or lower your wife’s expectations of human companionship. Whether you do it consciously or not, you spend all summer side-eyeing your favorite team’s roster and monetizing your anticipation.

This year I decided to rate each pertinent Celtics player on a scale of one to ten, based on how much I anticipating watching them play this year. As they’re all role players, I’ve created a handy scale based on Celtics role players since 2000. It looks like this:

10- James Posey
9- Leon Powe
8- Eddie House
7- Erick Strickland
6- Eric Williams
5- Ryan Gomes
4- Raef LaFrentz
3- Wally Szczerbiak
2- Vin Baker
1- Mark Blount

A few quick notes:

1) There are no 9s or 10s on the 2014-15 Celtics. Give me a break—we’re talking James Fucking Posey and Leon Fucking Powe here. These guys should have statues in Faneuil Hall, right next to Troy Brown and Dave Roberts.

2) I’m not counting the 10-day contract holdovers (Babb, Johnson) and the salary slots (Anthony and, I believe, Thornton). Not much point.

3) I am almost dead certain this is not the opening-day roster, but here we are.

4) The below numbers might actually seem low, but in some cases they were a little higher than I expected. For year two of a complete makeover without a top pick, that’s not too bad.

5) I didn’t even come close to spelling LaFrentz or Szczerbiak correctly on the first try. That’s how far they’ve slipped from my memory. It’s the small mercies in life.

Here we go:

Brandon Bass

If there existed a team for guys that I don’t even realize have checked in the game for like three minutes, then Bass would undoubtedly be captain. Outside of the fact that he always seems to spend his summers at Pizza Hut, I don’t have anything against him. Quiet, doesn’t take nights off, stays within his role. Defends a little better than people think, if worse than Danny Ainge says. A game so well-rounded it encompasses everything from 10-foot jump shots to 12-foot jump shots. A fine 7th man on a decent team.

At this point, however, Bass resembles nothing less than the ancient ruins of the KG/PP era. He makes me ask, “what is he still doing here” more than anyone else on the team, and so he’s got to go—for page-turning purposes, if nothing else. They should just list him Seven Million Dollar Expiring Contract in the official program. And if you’ve ever spent any time on the ESPN trade machine, you know that $7 million is a nice number for making moves happen. It’s time to move.

Final verdict: Wally Szczerbiak (3)

I don't like to be compared to a white guy who's name I can't even spell

I don’t like to be compared to a white guy who’s name I can’t even spell

Avery Bradley

I’m still not sure what to make of Bradley’s Celtics career. He went from being arguably the worst NBA player I’ve ever seen as a rookie to becoming the guy who stole Ray Allen’s job and inadvertently helped run him out of town (along with Doc, Ainge, and Rondo), to being a nice piece of a good team, to being overrated on a good team (where he was, to be fair, asked to do too much). Even the contract he just signed went from being an “oh no!” contract to a great value contract in 2 weeks, as the likes of Gordon Hayward started pulling in twice as much. I’m spotting dimes, I’m eating onions. I don’t know what’s up with this kid.

I do like him with Smart, in a vacuum (I’d like it better if we had, say, Atlanta’s frontcourt). So there’s that. But you know what? I’ve never really warmed to this guy, and certainly not as a fairly major piece of a rebuilding team’s foundation.

I’m reserving the right to change my mind but right now the final verdict is Raef Lafrentz (4)

I'm the thinking man's Raef LaFrentz

I’m the thinking man’s Raef LaFrentz

Vitor Favarani

This guy plays offense — loooooves to play offense — and works the boards, but could be the worst defender I’ve ever seen on the NBA level, and that includes Yi Jianlian’s chair. Frankly I think he’s still on the roster to make Kelly feel good about himself. And to make Tommy think that Rasheed Wallace is still on the team.

He ended up in Brad Stevens’ doghouse last year, but I suspect we’ll see a little more of him this year than we may want.

Final verdict: Wally Szczerbiak (3)

Fear the beard

Fear the beard

Jeff Green

One of my least favorite Red Sox players of all time was Derek Lowe during his Shaky Years. There is nothing worse in baseball, aside from actually watching the games, than a closer who is sometimes awesome and sometimes terrible, and you never know what you’re going to get. It gets to the point where the good games make you more frustrated than the bad games.

Jeff Green is the Shaky Derek Lowe of the Celtics, only if Dan Duquette broke a championship core to get him. Good guy, happy to root for him; I just wish I was rooting for him on the Hawks or Hornets. That is his destiny. I dread having to watch him. I don’t even like talking about him anymore.

Final verdict: a less drunk but equally depressing Vin Baker (2)

Thinking of all the money I could make in free agency makes my mouth water (and tongue hang out)

Thinking of all the money I could make in free agency makes my mouth water (and tongue hang out)

Kelly Olynyk

Olynyk is the rare player who seems to understand the game at a very high level but has a very hard time playing it. Some of it comes down to his obvious physical limitations—he’s too slow to sacrifice wasted energy, yet all he seems to do is waste energy. Some of it is his lost-looking demeanor. I’m going to hope the latter comes down to year-long rookie yips in, let’s face it, a sucky year to be a Celtics rookie. If that’s gone and he’s put on some muscle, he’ll be decent. I enjoy pulling for him.

People have complained that Ainge used assets to move up to get in the draft to get him. In retrospect, it seems clear that Ainge knew Minnesota wanted him and was playing a long game, thinking about a Love trade a year or two in advance. I don’t think a Love trade will happen, but I’m also not getting too attached to young Oly. Be honest with yourself: do you really see Kelly Olynyk as a Part Of The Celtics Future? I don’t.

Do I remind you of a character from the movie Dazed and Confused?

Do I remind you of a character from the movie Dazed and Confused?

Final Verdict: Eric Williams (6)

Phill Pressey

I like Pressey. People compare him derisively to J.R. Bremer, but I liked Bremer too. Pressey can run an offense, play some D, unleash the occasional “holy shit” pass, and plays with just a tiny bit of edge. Add the local angle and that’s real easy to root for. I won’t be rooting for him in 3 years, because my Mandarin isn’t that good, but I’ll have no problem this year, even though he helps make our backcourt look like an open audition for Time Bandits.

Final Verdict: Eric Williams (6)

"Congratulations your still in the NBA"

“Congratulations you’re still in the NBA”

Rajon Rondo

Man, I used to love me some Rajon Rondo.

What happened? For starters, the internet happened. The internet never lets you enjoy anything in peace, and it ruined him, like it ruined Antoine Walker before him. At some point, rather than letting myself feel rightfully dazzled by every pass and nodding in approval at his overall “fuck all y’all” attitude, I began bracing for the online complaints with every passed-upon layup, every indignant gesture, every slack attempt to “fight” through a screen. No matter if the good outweighs the bad; the joy is gone. So thanks, internet.

Also, to be fair, Rondo himself happened. After Ray left, I fully expected Rondo to tear through the league. That didn’t happen. Instead, the atrocious assist streak did — which, by the way, I blame just as much on Doc Rivers’ shameless mail-in job in his final Celtics years as I blame on Rondo. But no matter. It happened, and it wasn’t much fun. And then the injury happened, and that wasn’t much fun. Every year I expect him to weasel into the MVP discussion. Maybe “only” top 7 or 8 on the ladder (which is where he belongs on his very best days), but in there somewhere. Every year: nope. What a shame.

So I’ve given up on expecting anything on Rondo, good or bad. It’s clearly time for the dude to move on, but assuming he is still a Celtic, maybe he comes into the year looking to take Smart under his wing and tear the scrotum off of the superfriends league (not just in ESPN games), and earn the max deal he’s asking for. Then again, maybe he comes in and dogs it 90% of the time, pounds the ball for 20 seconds every time up the court before throwing a scoop pass to Sully for a 12-foot jump shot. Who knows.

BUT: I’m an idiot. I’m still optimistic. Rondo is part of the 2008 team and those are my guys. I will always root for all of them and never hate any of them. Even Ray Allen, who I’m guessing is currently trying to frantically sign with the German soccer team.

Final verdict: Eddie House (8)

I am MUCH more likable than Eddie House

I am MUCH more likable than Eddie House

Marcus Smart

I don’t mind that Smart returned to college and didn’t improve — I did that three times when I was college. I don’t mind that he tussled with that fan, because I used to live a few hours from the Texas Tech campus and man, there are some severely horrible human beings in that part of the world. I don’t mind that he can’t shoot; I am a firm believer that this can be corrected to a respectable degree.

I do like defenders that frustrate guards into giving up and keep teams from getting into their sets early in the shot clock. Rondo’s ability to do this was a secret weapon of the Thibodeau schemes here, and Avery took that torch once Rondo’s other responsibilities got to be too much. Avery’s gone a little slack now that his responsibilities got to be too much, and Smart will help him get back on course. They’ll be great together. I can’t wait to watch Stevens ring the bell and unleash Smart and Bradley as a swarming, two-man full-court press. That’s going to be beautiful.

Offensively, I’m not so excited. His offensive ceiling, to me, is that of a pre-injury Rose or pre-washed-up Deron or Wade, with lower shooting numbers from outside and less creativity. That’s obviously not a bad ceiling, and I hope he comes close to it, but did I like watching those guys pinball off of every defender until they got a foul call? No, I did not. And that uggo-ball is basically Smart’s upside.

That said, I love his moxie, so final verdict: Erick Strickland (7)

Hopefully this won't be the highlight of Marcus Smart's career

Hopefully this won’t be the highlight of Marcus Smart’s career

Jared Sullinger

I’m trying to ignore how he spends his summers (answering the door for police officers, super-sizing his combo meals), and focus on the seasons. I still like this guy a lot. Not “compare his stats to Kevin Love like,” but I still watch him and see the top-5 prospect there. Hard worker, great rebounder, an expanding offensive game. Seems smart enough to conjure up legit chemistry with anyone he gets big minutes with. He’s a dude who makes things happen. We need more guys like him, and I am looking forward to seeing him develop into a real, full-time player.

Final verdict: Eddie House (8)

My back hurts

My back hurts

Gerald Wallace

I don’t hate him. His contract is a burden, but that’s the price of at least one glorious Nets pick. Spasiba! And at 2/20, it’s not the worst dead-contract out there — he doesn’t do anything particularly well, but still somehow seems to make some good things happen. On occasion. For no particular reason, I think he’ll have an OK year.

I just wish 1) he wouldn’t have those idiotic games where he never shoots, and 2) he wouldn’t call out his teammates every week. But then I also wish his teammates wouldn’t give him reason to.

Real talk: he was clearly subtweeting Jeff Green, stealer of his SF minutes, with those call-outs. So cut the shit Green. Either play harder every night or publicly tell this guy to fuck off — either one I’m fine with.

Final verdict: Raef LaFrentz (4)

"Make sure those checks clear"

“Make sure those checks clear”

James Young

I watched Kentucky more than any other college team this year and I swear I don’t remember a single thing this guy did. That ain’t a good sign.

That said, I wanted youth and shooting from the draft (I think they’ll regret passing on Gary Harris) and he’s young and has got shooting mechanics to work with. And regardless of how you feel about Calipari, his success rate with recruiting and developing NBA prospects of late has been decent enough that his kids deserve the benefit of the doubt. So, in spite of the whiffs of Kedrick Brown that I’m getting from Young’s general direction, I will give him that benefit of the doubt.

Even though I don’t expect anything from him this year, I always have irrational hopes for Celtic rookies, so final verdict: Eric Williams (6)

"Isn't it cool how it says Celtics under the brim of my cap?"

“Isn’t it cool how it says Celtics under the brim of my cap?”

Tyler Zeller

I’m just happy to have another center on the roster. And he’s under 25? Fabulous.

(For the record, I think he’ll be good for us)

Final verdict: Eric Williams (6)

Look, I can even dunk!!

Look, I can even dunk!!

Team verdict:

The average is a 5.25, with room to improve. Not too bad! A financial and emotional investment in this team should see mild returns, provided the investment is low and the expectations are tempered.

But you know what’s better? Nine first round picks in 5 years, and loads of cap space in just one year (assuming Green opts out). As GMs go, from a scale of Red Auerbach (10) to Chris Wallace (1), Danny Ainge ranks an 8. That’s where the big returns will come in.

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So, What Do We Have Here? Tyler Zeller: the next Nenad Krstic, or something more?

The great white hope??

What should we make of this man?

Earlier today the Celtics made a deal with the Nets and Cavaliers that effectively doubled the number of NBA centers on our roster*. Move over, Joel! You’ve got company.

It’s not clear how excited we should be by the middle Zeller. He grew up in a basketball family, is reasonably athletic, and as a kid was tall for his age. At the end of his high school career he was named ‘Mr Basketball’ for the state of Indiana after averaging ~30 ppg his senior season. From there he went UNC where folks reading this may have watched him many times over the next four years.

Despite being a skilled seven-footer at one of the highest-profile college programs in the country Zeller wasn’t taken until the 17th pick in his draft. Seven footers who project to have All Star potential usually go top five in the NBA draft. Seven footers who project as solid starters often go in the mid-lottery. Tyler spent four years at Chapel Hill and so was a pretty thoroughly scouted by the time he declared as a draft prospect. His slide to 17 wasn’t because NBA teams were unsure of what they’d be getting.

His first year in Cleveland didn’t do much to dispel the idea that he was at best a backup-quality big. He had a rocky time of things in lots of typical rookie ways, even without the many times he got pushed around by bigger, stronger, NBA centers. That he started 55 games his first year was more a sign of desperation and injuries to Anderson Varejao than anything else. Immediately after which the Cavs went and signed Andrew Bynum.

Andrew Bynam never danced his way in to the hearts of Cavs fans

Andrew Bynam never danced his way in to the hearts of Cavs fans

Importantly, the Cavs have been a mess on the court for Zeller’s whole time there. As they’ve cycled through coaches they’ve gone from looking horrible on offense to horrible on defense to back to horrible on offense. Jarrett Jack was actually a good mid-range and three-point shooter until he went to Cleveland and all his averages plummeted. Under Mike Brown the Cavs offense has been incredibly predictable and painful. In the games I watched they tended to start with something like a simple high screen-and-roll action, but then once the defense made the obvious reaction things would grind to a halt. Five to ten seconds into the possession it often wasn’t clear what anyone was supposed to be doing, and things tended to devolve into Dion or Kyrie driving into a pull-up jumper. Even if his team-mates had any intention of passing, Zeller wasn’t getting decent looks in that mess.

That said, Tyler’s second year was more encouraging, despite the fact that he played fewer minutes and was mostly an after-thought in the constant rolling melodrama that was the Cavs. He’s got a good touch around the basket and began showing flashes of a mid-range jumper. Encouragingly, he had the highest shooting percentages of any player who logged minutes at the 5 for Cleveland last season. He’s also bulked up, and doesn’t look nearly as lost on defense as he once did. He could stand to play with more of an edge on defense, with less finesse and more willingness to take and receive a few body blows.

Look, I can even dunk!!

More of this, please

It’s hard to say how much a difference he’ll make on defense. He currently reads as a relatively league-average backup center. Which is to say significantly better than anyone the Celtics had on the roster last season. (None of our PFs playing out of position count on this score, so his competition is limited to Vitor and Joel Anthony). He’s got the size to be a decent defensive big. He could stand to get stronger, quicker, more of everything on that end. Roy Hibbert was a 17th pick who just made an All Star team in his sixth year as a defensive center in a weak conference. That would be the ideal trajectory, however unlikely.

In sum, under a coach who knows what he’s doing and with players who are willing to play as a team on both ends, he’s got the skills to be a useful piece. If you want a recent Celtic to use as an comparable, the closest is probably Nenad Krstic. Good shooter with a soft touch in a face-game from 5-10′ from the basket. Can finish at the hoop when he gets behind the defense, but not going to bull his way through tough man defense or a crowd. Good BBIQ and decent passer for a big man. 

Wherever Tyler’s game goes from here, at least his chair worked

By Disco

FabMeloChair

 

 

*While an excellent Spanish league back-up, for the purposes of this discussion Vitor doesn’t count as an NBA-quality center

The Anatomy Of An NBA Rumor

It’s a crazy time in the NBA. As we wait for the free agency decisions from LeBron, Carmelo, and The Other Two Miami Players, the league hangs in the balance. Player movement has basically frozen. In this vacuum, trade rumors are like oxygen for fans…and in 2014, a whisper on Twitter can result in an avalanche of posts on Twiter, Facebook, and the like about something that’ll never, ever happen.

Here’s how it usually goes:

Step 1: Some idiot on Twitter “reports” a baseless rumor.

Maybe this person identities as the “trainer” of a player involved in the rumor. “Manager” is my favorite. In the Internet age, fans have evolved past the point where they trust someone who simply claims that they have a “source.” On Twitter, you can be anybody…so, if you plan to start a rumor, you better be saying that you’re said player’s driver/bodyguard/cousin. Or at least that you’re related to one of them.

This guy is a Twitter sensation right now.

Step 2: Other idiots retweet, share, and talk about this rumor.

This is what helps bring the original rumor alive. Fans so desperate for a morsel of news retweet and post their own original tweets about this rumor. Someone sees a rumor from a “source” and feel the need to chime in on Twitter. “RONDO A PACER?????? WOOOW” is your basic, unsubstantiated tweet about another rumor. Incidentally, they create confusion and get their brainless followers talking about the possibilities.

Guys, he’s 300% sure.

Step 3: Bleacher Report runs it.

Ah, Bleacher Report – the “news outlet” that lowers the bar so almost anyone can appear in Google News. At this point, the Bleacher Report writer will generally source to the original “rumor” and then fill out the rest of their article with speculation about why such a move makes sense for all parties involved. The writer always speaks as if they have authority and there’s a hint that they may have inside information, too. Fans comment that they either love or hate the rumor/the player/the writer. The rumor grows.

Step 4: Someone trustworthy is forced to acknowledge the rumor.

This is where the rumor really takes a leap. A respected writer – maybe of ESPN, Sports Illustrated, or Yahoo! Sports – finally responds to fans’ inquiries about the aforementioned rumor. Maybe this writer, unaware of the life that this rumor already has in the seedy underbelly of Twitter, simply responds that it would “make sense” for a team involved. The writer may think that what they’ve tweeted is harmless. But alas…they’ve given this rumor legitimacy. This is when your friends who are really into sports may share it on Facebook.

Step 5: ESPN publishes a story.

Many rumors die right before this point – but, depending on how strong the comment was from the respected writer in the previous step, ESPN may run a quick story that says basically nothing except what was already reported by the previously-mentioned respected writer. Still…the story is now “on ESPN!!!” and is now being shared everywhere. It’s at this point when your friends who are casual sports fans will post about it on Facebook and bring it up at the water cooler.

Step 6: Your local news station talks about it on TV.

A local news outlet will talk about the story on the evening news. At this point, your mom knows about the rumor, and wants to know your take. You’ll see the story on TV and think, “Wow, I remember when that was a thing…eight hours ago.” That’s how fast the news cycle is. Something we heard in the morning can seem so completely out-of-date and inaccurate by nighttime that it’s almost laughable…and oftentimes, it was never “news” to begin with!

-

Within 36 hours, the rumor has totally fizzled out. A Twitter search will reveal that people have forgotten about the rumor and have moved on to the next one. That’s the nature of rumors. They burn bright but they’re not long for this world. Still, they’re the lifeblood of the offseason, and I will begrudgingly admit…they can be kind of fun.

So, let’s hear it, Carmelo Anthony’s trainer’s cousin’s friend: where is he going to sign? Your followers anxiously await.

##

This post first appeared on http://adamokane.com. For wild, unsubstantiated trade rumors, follow me @adamokane. I’m Danny Ainge’s nephew’s barber.

Jeff Green, From Overpaid To Underpaid

Its NBA free agency time and its all about the green

Its NBA free agency time and its all about the green

Here are two NBA players and their statistics last season:

Player A: 16.2 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.2 apg, 41% fg, 30% 3pfg, 36 mpg, .52% true sooting percentage

Player B: 16.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.6 apg, 41% fg, 34% 3pfg, 34 mpg, .52% true shooting percentage

Player A is Gordon Hayward, who has been reported to have been offered a MAX contract from the Cleveland Cavaliers, player B is your own maddening Jeff Green who will make 9 million next season with a player option for the next season at the same rate. I think we can all agree that Jeff Green has never really lived up to his potential. Traded for Kendrick Perkins in a season where, at the time, the Celtics held the best record in the NBA, Green has largely underachieved in Boston. He was diagnosed with a serious heart condition the summer after the trade, had successful surgery, and the Celtics signed him to a deal immediately after, which was largely panned as an overpay. Many, such as myself, wondered aloud of the Celtics were bidding against themselves in giving him such a rich deal.

Man were we those people wrong.

How ya like me NOW?

How ya like me NOW?

I was all aboard the “get rid of Jeff Green” bandwagon and would have driven him myself to Logan if they traded him. I’m no longer on this vehicle, when you consider what Hayward was reportedly just offered, and the rumors are that the Jazz will match. Take a long look around the league, and you will find it almost impossible to find similar production to Green at his salary.

No matter what course of action Ainge is considering for the immediate and long term future of the club, there is no need to rid the team of Jeff Green. The hope is you can surround him with better talent and he’s not asked to do things on a basketball court he’s not capable of, mainly be option A on offense. He just can’t handle it and isn’t paid to. But as a third or fourth option, well now he’s an underpaid gem.

Each year we think that NBA GM’s will come to their senses and stop handing out max contracts to the likes of Gordon Hayward, but it never happens. Its my belief that these contracts are offered for two reasons; First, the salary cap is too low, especially for max contracts. If Gordon Hayward is worth around 16 million dollars a year, then Lebron James is probably worth around 40. Carmello Anthony probably splits the difference at around 25, and everyone else fits in their correct slot. The salary cap prevents players to be paid according to their production. And second, the owners are making money hand over fist after their latest whipping of the NBA players association in the collective bargaining agreement. This money moves into their pockets and the hands of the Gordon Haywards of the league. Its pretty simple if you think about it.

With the money he's going to get in FA, hopefully Hayward will be able to afford a haircut

With the money he’s going to get in FA, hopefully Hayward will be able to afford a haircut

The bottom line of all of this is that you need to PAY for production in this league. When the corpse of Ben Gordon signs a contract worth 9 million dollars over 2 years, ( http://www.cbssports.com/nba/eye-on-basketball/24604531/magic-agree-to-two-year-9-million-deal-with-ben-gordon ) you know your going to have to open your wallet if you want to pay retail (free agency) over wholesale (draft). This is why its so important that the Celtics have made the right choice in drafting Marcus Smart. They will have him tied up for multiple years at a very reasonable salary. If they can get real, actual efficient production out of him, and players like Green, they have a real chance to get good fast because they can use the plethora of money NOT used on him on quality veterans they obtain via trade (most likely) or free agency.

Good luck Danny Ainge, and hold onto Jeff Green for as long as you can. In the matter of 24 hours he went from an overpaid stiff to an underpaid gem.

Danny Ainge reacts to the news of Gordon Hayward's contract offer from the Cavs

Danny Ainge reacts to the news of Gordon Hayward’s contract offer from the Cavs

Discuss Jeff Green, the Celtics and everything NBA related at http://celticsnuts.com/forum/index.php

Celtics: Taking The Long Road

Hope is the Smart way to think in Boston

Hope is the Smart way to think in Boston

Its called a long con. Where a con man takes years to make his plan come to fruition, his “mark” usually wined and dined and lulled into thinking things are all going well and then bam…..the rug is pulled out from under them and the con man makes his move.

Are the Celtics pulling a “long con” on the rest of the NBA? It certainly would seem it with their lack of trades at the NBA draft, staying put and drafting in their slot, adding Marcus Smart and James Young to a roster that won a whopping 25 games last season. As of right now lets look at what the roster looks like:

PG: Rondo, Smart, Pressey
SG: Young, Babb, Bogans (in contract only)
SF: Green, Wallace, Johnson
PF: Bass, Sullinger,
C: Olynyk, Faverani, Anthony

Not a welcome sight for Celtic fans hoping for a quick turnaround

Not a welcome sight for Celtic fans hoping for a quick turnaround

With the loss of defensive anchor Kris Humphries, that looks like a 20 to 25 win team to me. Of course there could be moves made in the offseason to improve the roster, but they have very few options. They could:

Trade Rajon Rondo. What return they could get is anyone’s guess, but based on his play last season I would argue that his value is at an all time low. He DID prove that he was healthy coming off knee surgery which is nice, but he was horrendous defensively and lent a ton of credence to his critics who argue that he’s a player that doesn’t move the needle in the win loss column when he’s not surrounded by hall of fame talent. They could probably kick the can down the road a bit and move him for someone like Josh Smith and hope Marcus Smart is ready to come in and play right away. That would require them to sign Humphries or a similar player up front and then add some scrap heap vets and hope the Eastern conference remains as bad as it was last season.

Hopefully Rondo uses this tactic to get Ainge to improve the team

Hopefully Rondo uses this tactic to get Ainge to improve the team

Trade Rondo, Smart and one of their draft picks from the stockpile they have from the Nets and Clippers and try and land an impact player. Who that player might would be anyone’s guess. This would require several things to line up in a row……mainly a) The team they’re trading with would want Rajon Rondo and presumably be interested in signing him long term b) be interested in the Celtics’ recent lottery pick in Marcus Smart and b) have an impact vet the Celtics would covet to vault them to the middle of the back in the aforementioned putrid Eastern conference. (they would also have to think this hypothetic vet is not worth keeping) This seems like a long shot. Speaking of long shots, Celticsnuts poster Bostonfan23 from our boards came up with this idea with about a million different moving parts:

1.) Trade Rondo to Milwaukee for Larry Sanders and the Bucks’ 2015 pick – top 3 protected.
2.) Trade Jared Sullinger and non-guaranteed contracts for Kendrick Perkins and OKC’s 2017 first rounder.
3.) Trade the Pierce TPE along with the Clippers first rounder to Utah for Hayward in a S+T. 4y/42m.
4.) Sign either Shaun Livingston or Patty Mills with the MLE. I doubt either of those guys would be available to us, though…if so, sign Steve Blake to a one year deal.
5.) S+T Bradley somewhere and pick up a small asset. Regrettably, let Humphries go…someone will give him the MLE or close to it.

Sanders / Perkins
Olynyk / Bass
Green / Wallace
Hayward / Young
Smart / Blake

After, we would have…

-two first round picks each year for the next four years
-a core of Smart (20), Hayward (24), and Sanders (25) locked in for the next four seasons
-supporting players in Young and Olynyk that may turn into something or at least be decent trade chips
-we’ll keep Green and Bass’s expiring deals to potentially use at the deadline (I assume JG will opt out) and still have Wallace’s expiring next offseason
-with Wallace, Olynyk, Smart, Young, Sanders, and Hayward under contract for ’16, we would have about $28m in cap room next offseason

That seems a little like spinning your wheels, but if its fireworks you want, this is probably as close as your going to get in this offseason.

So whats the “plan”? From my chair it seems the Celtics are in this for the long haul (con). Probably be really bad again next season, resulting in more ping pong ball rooting as next season winds down. Hope and pray that Marcus Smart is the steal of the draft, and move forward with yet another lottery pick of your own and a bushel of picks from the Nets and Clippers. If either of those teams were to go into the tank in the next 3 to 5 years the Celtics could really be in business, with a plethora of quality assets to make a major move. But then again in 3 to 5 years a meteor could hit the earth and we could all be dead rendering all this moot.

With coaching genius Jason Kidd heading to Milwaukee maybe the Nets will go in the tank

With coaching genius Jason Kidd heading to Milwaukee maybe the Nets will go in the tank

What they can and need to do in the immediate future is make sure a culture of losing doesn’t seep into the organization and begin to strangle it like boa constrictor on its prey. We have seen this happen with teams like the Kings, where you start stockpiling young players without any vets to give them direction, losing becomes the norm, and you begin a cycle of losing you can’t get out of. (I call this the “cycle of suck”) The losing brings more high draft picks and more young players, and as the years go by you start to have to make decisions on them contract wise and you have no idea if the players that are collecting statistics on your team are good or bad because SOMEONE has to score in the NBA. Even the worst team get 90 points a game and the assists, steals and rebounds that go with it. Also, youth is death in the NBA. You simply cannot win with a roster full of young players.

The face of the "cycle of suck"

The face of the “cycle of suck”

So whats needed are veterans who know how to win, be professionals and teach these young players what the NBA is all about. Many want the Celtics to rid themselves of Brandon Bass, but that would be a HUGE mistake as he provides exactly what young players need….a role model to follow. Signing Humphries does the same thing plus it provides much needed interior defense. Maybe they can pry a guy like Inman Shumpert from the Knicks with one of their draft picks. Make sure Brad Stevens is in this for the long haul and can stay sane as the losses pile up.

Stevens can plead all he wants but the Celtics won't be winning many games in the near future

Stevens can plead all he wants but the Celtics won’t be winning many games in the near future

Buckle up Celtic fans, this is going to be a long and bumpy road unless by some miracle they can still pull off the rumored Kevin Love deal thats been shot down. The good news is tickets will be available for every game, and should be for cheap. The bad news is the losses should pile up like garbage on your curb during a collection strike. That which doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger…..or something like that.

Keep the faith, and pray Marcus Smart is the best player taken in the 2014 draft.

Marcus is going to need to conger up all the mojo he can to get himself and the Celtics over the top

Marcus is going to need to conger up all the mojo he can to get himself and the Celtics over the top

Discuss the future of the Celtics and everything NBA related here: http://celticsnuts.com/forum/index.php

James Young Picked #17 Overall

james young

I’ll be honest here. I don’t have any video breakdowns for James Young because he was awful in the Kentucky games I watched last season. Here’s what I’ve got on him:

Pros:

  • Great body for a shooting guard. Tall, long arms.
  • Smooth stroke from outside
  • He is not Bruno Caboclo 

Cons:

  • His outside shot is erratic
  • Handle is not up to par, to be generous
  • Turnover prone
  • Decision making is suspect

Comparison: Jalen Rose compared him to Mo Pete, so let’s just go with that.

Future outlook: I will say, Young was a highly recruited high schooler. He has a lot of potential to grow as a player, and from what I have seen from his thus far, he’ll definitely need to grow to be a successful NBA player.