6 Individual Milestones Boston Celtics Will Attack During the 2012-13 Season
In Boston, there is only one number with which the Celtics will be judged: 18. However, there are numerous other milestones on the horizon for individual players.
It is always an exciting moment when a player surpasses a record or inches closer to becoming an all-time leader in something. Think back to Paul Pierce passing Larry Bird and moving into second place in all-time scoring for the Celtics. It was a great moment and it kicked off many discussions of Pierce in the Celtics' historical context.
On an NBA, team with such a storied history, there is always a lot of honor in individual accomplishments. Of course, extending their league-leading championship total to 18 is the No. 1 priority.
Still, respect is owed to those advancing up the history books.
Rajon Rondo's Double-Digit Assists Streak
Back in 1992, John Stockton put together 29 straight games of double-digit assists. It became a regular thing: Stockton would just go out and casually tally up ten-plus dimes.
Now, 20 years later, Rajon Rondo has found a similar groove. On March 11, in a game against the Lakers, Rondo posted 10 assists. Since then, he has put together a run of 24-straight games with double-digit assists.
He has had some help, though. He sat out two of the season's final three games, but returned to post 15 assists in the finale. Highlights along the way included a couple of 17-assist games and of course his 20-assist game against Atlanta.
The Celtics kick off the 2012-13 season at Miami on October 30. They then follow up the opener with games against Milwaukee, Washington (twice) and Philadelphia. If Rondo can manage 10 or more assists in each of these games, he will have tied Stockton's record. No. 30 will come against the Bucks in Milwaukee on November 10.
While this seems like a minor feat in the grand scheme of things—especially with the giant offseason bridge—it is nonetheless impressive. Holding this prolific record is another piece of ammo in the argument for Rondo as the NBA's best point guard.
Paul Pierce Inching Closer to All-Time Scoring Leader
No. 1 on that list—John Havlicek—still holds a comfortable lead over the two. However, if Pierce can continue his production through the end of his contract there is a possibility he will pass Havlicek.
Pierce's 22,591 career points still sit 3,804 behind Havlicek's mark. Since 2011-12 was a a shortened schedule, Pierce only played in 61 games. The season prior, Pierce played in 80 games and finished with 1,511 points. Assuming he has a similar season in 2012-13 and 2013-14, Pierce could have 25,613 career points at the end of his current contract.
That makes him a mere 782 points away from Havlicek. This number could fluctuate, but I don't see Pierce surpassing Havlicek in the next two seasons. Should the Celtics bring him back on a one-year deal, a 37-year-old Pierce could definitely take down Havlicek's record.
Kevin Garnett Approaching Top-10 All-Time NBA Scoring Leaders
Known primarily as a defensive stalwart at this point of his career, Kevin Garnett has a chance to enter even more elite offensive company.
Garnett currently sits 18th on the NBA's all-time scoring list; only Kobe Bryant is ahead of him for active players. His 24,815 points are just 1,895 points behind No. 10 on the list, Oscar Robertson. Jumping back two seasons to avoid the lockout, Garnett scored 1,056 points in 71 games. If he is able to avoid major injury, Garnett can replicate this total and leap up the board.
Managing 1,100 points is not out of the question. This would place him at 25,915 and in 13th place, just ahead of Alex English. In the process, Garnett would knock down Reggie Miller, Jerry West, Allen Iverson and Patrick Ewing.
Garnett did just sign a three-year contract with the Celtics. Assuming he fulfils all three years of service while scoring around 1,000 points per season, he would find himself easily inside the top-10 and amidst the likes of Shaquille O'Neal and Moses Malone.
Something to keep in mind, though is that Dirk Nowitzki is hot on Garnett's heels. The Mavericks star is currently in 19th place, less than 200 points behind Garnett.
Kevin Garnett Bursting into the NBA's Top 10 in Career Rebounds
Kevin Garnett is the NBA's active leader in career rebounds. However, he still sits outside the top 10 of all time. Currently 12th with 13,313 career boards, Garnett is just 456 rebounds away from No.10 Wes Unseld.
Jumping back the obligatory lockout year, Garnett grabbed 613 rebounds in 2010-2011. If he is able to tally a similar total in 2012-13, Garnett would fly clear of Unseld and park himself firmly in tenth place.
Even an average of 500 rebounds over the next three years of his contract would push Garnett past the likes of Robert Parish, Walt Bellamy and Nate Thurmond, into seventh place.
A lot of this will depend on Garnett's health and willingness to finish out the extent of his contract. Though it would put him past the big four-oh in terms of age, no one has made more out of denying his years than Garnett.
The bottom line is that it will take just 457 rebounds in 2012-13 to push him into the top 10, and for Garnett, that is very manageable.
Doc Rivers Moving into Second Place in Celtics Wins
NBA coaching is often a product of the talent you have on your team. However, after many years of being in the profession, some coaches start to separate themselves.
Doc Rivers has had a chance to do that over the past couple of seasons. Now he has a chance to make some more history. His 375 career wins as head coach of the Boston Celtics have him third on a short list. While there is very little chance of him ever passing the great Red Auerbach and his 910 wins, there is a great possibility he can move into second place.
In between the two stands Hall of Famer Tommy Heinsohn and his 427 career victories as head coach. For Rivers to pass him, Boston needs to finish with a record of at least 53-29.
Back when I did the entire Celtics 2012-13 win-loss calculation, I came out with a record of 50-32. Three more wins is not out of question. Either way, Rivers signed a five-year extension with the team prior to last season, so even if the Celtics can't get to 53 wins this season, Rivers will have another opportunity to leapfrog Heinsohn next season.
Rajon Rondo Climbing the Celtics Assists List
Rajon Rondo has been skyrocketing up the Celtics all-time assists chart. After last season's 630 dimes, he has moved to seventh with 3,523.
In 2010-11, Rondo posted 760 assists. A similar year will place him easily inside the top five. He shouldn't have any trouble topping Bill Russell and Jo Jo White in 2012-13.
In a remarkably short amount of time, Rondo has risen up this list. His distribution skills are currently unmatched in the league and might be something we haven't seen in a long, long time. If he remains with the Celtics past the end of his current contract, the top spot is not out of the question.
Rondo has three seasons left on his deal. Averaging 760 assists per year would give Rondo an additional 2,280. When his contract expires after the 2014-15 season, Rondo could have close to 6,000 career assists. Bob Cousy leads the Celtics in this category with 6,945.
Rondo will have to remain in Boston past his current deal to surpass Cousy.
Some other quick milestones to watch out for.
If Paul Pierce is able to play all 82 games of the 2012-13 season, he will move ahead of Robert Parish and have played in the second-most basketball games ever while wearing a Celtics uniform. Another 82 games will give him 1,107 career games, but he will still be looking up at John Havlicek's 1,270.
Another 31 steals will move Rajon Rondo into third place in Celtics' history. He will slide ahead of Parish with ease this season, but still be trailing both Pierce and Larry Bird.
Kevin Garnett has played more NBA minutes than any active player other than Jason Kidd. He is currently tenth on the all-time list. The majority of players from five-to-ten are clustered very close together. If Garnett manages to stay on the court for a similar number of minutes as the 2010-11 season, he can easily leap into the top five. Playing 2,200 minutes in 2012-13 would place him in fifth on the list, just ahead of Wilt Chamberlain.
Jason Terry currently sits fourth on the NBA's all-time three-point shooting list. Unfortunately he is still 670 treys behind Jason Kidd for third. Even as he is signed with the Celtics for three more seasons, Terry would need to average more than 223 threes per season to surpass Kidd's current mark.
All of these are meaningful accomplishments by some great players and coaches. Still none of them can hold a candle to the Celtics ultimate goal.
Boston's 17 championships still lead the NBA. The Los Angeles Lakers are close behind with 16 and will threaten to win No. 17 this year. The only way Boston can assure the Lakers don't catch them is to win their own 18th.