Roster Problems the Boston Celtics Can't Afford to Keep Overlooking
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The Boston Celtics are a good team. They have a lot of talent on their roster and a solid amount of depth across the board. Even with all of the injuries they have endured, they have remained a legitimate threat in the Eastern Conference and appear to be on the cusp of another playoff run.
However, there are still holes on this ballclub that GM Danny Ainge has failed to address, holes that have not been plugged for quite a while now.
The Celtics truly are just a piece or two away from being potential title favorites, and had those pieces been placed into the puzzle over the offseason (or the year before), perhaps Boston would be in even better shape at the current point in time.
This isn't to say that Ainge hasn't done a fine job overall, because he has. The way he has continually reloaded this ballclub has certainly been impressive. There are just a couple of adjustments that he should make when he peruses the draft, free agency and trades this summer.
You probably know where this is going already, but let's take a look at some spots Ainge needs to shore up.
Once again, the C's are ranked near the bottom of the league on the glass, and most of the blame has to fall on Ainge's shoulders for that.
In Ainge's defense, he did draft Jared Sullinger, a guy who was posting a total rebound percentage of 17.4 before going down with season-ending at the very end of January. Should Sullinger return healthy in 2013-14, he will provide the Celtics with a reliable presence on the boards.
Still, outside of Sullinger, the only big man Boston has who can consistently grab rebounds is Kevin Garnett, and considering he is going on 37 years old, that is certainly a problem.
It is completely understood that good rebounders don't grow on trees, but Reggie Evans was out there this past summer, and the C's didn't even look at him. That has come back to bite the Celtics, as Evans undoubtedly would have proved to be a productive commodity off the bench. Sure, you're sacrificing some offense, but you also have to remember that Evans creates extra possessions with his rebounding prowess.
It would behoove Ainge to scour the market for a rebounder when July comes.
2. Low post presence
As it stands, Garnett is the only dependable low-post threat on Boston (although Sullinger may change that next year).
With the art of the "true" back-to-the-basket game essentially facing extinction, it is difficult to find someone who fits that mold. However, there are guys out there who do. Carl Landry was on the 2012 free agent market, for example, but, much like Evans, Ainge didn't go near him. He definitely could have helped the C's with their interior scoring.
Ainge tried to go the inexpensive route by signing Darko Milicic for some size and offense up front, but he left the team early in the season to be with his ill mother in Europe. Plus, Milicic does not exactly qualify as someone you can rely on to get you buckets in the paint.
With the Celtics having a surplus of guards, perhaps Ainge can swing a trade for a big man this coming offseason?
3. Rim protectors
K.G. is alone on this one, too.
In a league where guys like LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Dwyane Wade can get to the basket at will and draw fouls in the process, you need intimidators in the lane. Not only guys who can block shots, but who also aren't afraid to give a hard foul to let their opponent know that they are there.
Boston used to have that in Kendrick Perkins, but he was dealt for Jeff Green during the 2010-11 campaign, a deal that is starting to look better and better for the C's by the day. That's a story for another time, though. The fact is, Garnett is the only member of this Celtic squad who can block some shots and change the way the opposition decides to attack. When he goes to the bench, it's like a free-for-all in there for opposing slashers.
The Celtics attempted to add some tough players up front in Milicic and Jason Collins, but neither worked out. Ainge needs to find some more productive big men to throw out there when K.G. needs some rest.
Boston drafted Fab Melo for this, but he seems to be a long way away from contributing anything on this level. That's why Ainge needs to rectify this area of weakness right now.
You'll notice a rather constant theme here: size. The C's are not exactly a big team, and their futility in rebounding and rim protection demonstrates that.
For whatever reason, Ainge has failed to provide Garnett with the necessary frontcourt depth over these past couple of seasons. He definitely did a great job in drafting Sullinger, but outside of that, who has Ainge given Garnett? Greg Stiemsma? Ryan Hollins? Milicic? Collins? When Stiemsma is the best of the lot, you know there are issues.
Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox are both productive, but neither are good rebounders, and neither presents any sort of obstacle to overcome for other teams inside.
There is a theory that if you are seven feet tall and can run up and down the floor without tripping over your shoelaces, you can play in the NBA. While that may be true to an extent, it doesn't mean you can be a productive player. It just means that you have size that intrigues a front office enough where they will give you a roster spot.
Ainge needs to understand that, and he needs to be more efficient in acquiring big men for the Celtics.
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