The Boston Celtics were made out to be as deep as the Atlantic Ocean, but since the start of the season, they have seemed to be more like a kiddie pool.
First, the C's picked up Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph at the 2012 NBA draft. During free agency season, they also acquired Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jason Collins, Darko Milicic and Leandro Barbosa. In addition to Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox also decided to rejoin the Celtics in 2012-13.
On paper, it looked like the Celtics completed their goal of adding depth. We now see that is far from the truth.
During the offseason, fans were excited to see what the rookies would bring to the table. Jared Sullinger has delivered, averaging a solid five points and five rebounds in 17.3 minutes per game. He hustles hard and provides a much-needed big body for the Celtics. Most importantly, he grabs rebounds.
On the other hand, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph were sent to Boston's D-League affiliate, the Maine Red Claws. There, the two players will get more playing time and a chance to develop their game. Fab Melo's slow improvement is particularly disappointing, especially for a team in dire need of a dominant big man.
Which player has the biggest impact on the Celtics?
Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Garnett are carrying the team on their backs. The offseason acquisitions were made to relieve some of the pressure from the stars, but instead, the stars are working harder to keep their team afloat. Garnett averages 29.3 minutes per game. Pierce averages 34.3 minutes, while Rondo puts in 37.9 minutes.
Although KG's minutes are slightly lower than last season, Pierce and Rondo's have both increased. The offense is overly dependent on Rondo and his newly-polished jumpshot. Plus, without a sufficient backup point guard, it's pretty tough to keep Rondo on the bench for long.
Additionally, Barbosa is averaging 5.2 points in 12.5 minutes this season, much lower than his career averages. Yes, he's playing a different role with the Celtics, but he's also failing to make a significant, consistent contribution off the bench. For the month of December so far, Barbosa has scored merely two points in a combined 32 minutes. It's pretty hard for Rondo to rest when there's hardly any depth at his position.
As for Pierce, he's still the Celtics' main source of offense. When Boston is playing catch-up—which is often nowadays—Pierce is the most important man on the floor. With 19.7 points, 3.5 assists and 5.5 rebounds, Pierce is needed on both sides of the ball.
Pierce's main backup, Jeff Green, was supposed to have one of the biggest impacts from the bench coming into this season. After sitting out in 2011-12 to recover from heart surgery, the young power forward signed a four-year, $36 million contract with the Celtics.
Green's return to the team started off bumpy, to say the least. However, he's gradually become more at ease on the court. In December, Green has averaged 13.6 points and 4.7 rebounds. He also hasn't missed a free throw. If he continues to progress, Green might not be a disappointment after all.
Like Green, Jason Terry also had a bumpy, inconsistent start to the season. In his defense, Terry was thrust into the starting shooting guard position when he's spent the bulk of his career coming off the bench. Like the veteran he is, Terry rose to the occasion. His 11.7 points per game are more than any of the other new acquisitions and his game is the most consistent.
Why did Terry even have to take upon the role of starting SG? Because Courtney Lee simply couldn't get the job done. Lee hasn't done much of anything to assure himself a spot in rotation once Avery Bradley returns. He's only averaging 5.9 points and his three-point percentage has dropped to 29 percent. That's shockingly low considering he averaged above 40 percent from beyond the arc for three-of-four previous seasons.
You can argue that Lee is more known for his defense, but his current game is simply not going to cut it. In fact, Lee's path mirrors that of the Celtics as a whole: the potential is there but the execution is not.
The team needs to move away from relying on the Big Three, and move towards getting everyone involved. By this time in the season, all players should have a clear understanding of their roles.
The Celtics have the potential to be a deep team. You can't deny that the talent is there. However, until the secondary unit that Boston advertised steps up, the team's depth is just a thought.