NBA Rankings: Ranking the Boston Celtics 10 Most Valuable Players of 2010-11
By: Stephen Patterson
The Boston Celtics have been widely recognized over the past several seasons because of their "Big Three", consisting of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Since the trio was formed, they have been the faces of the Celtics franchise.
But are any of those players still able to be considered the best on the team? There are plenty of other big names on the Celtics star-lined roster.
The Celtics also have several players that are young, and clearly still improving with every game and season. Could one of these players be the most valuable Celtic moving forward? Check out this list ranking the 10 most important players on the Celtics' roster heading into the future.
No.10. Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley is in his first season after the Celtics drafted him in the first round of the 2010 NBA Draft. Unfortunately, the team hasn't seen much from Bradley since the draft, as he underwent surgery on his ankle that kept him out of the summer leagues.
Bradley was one of the top rated players in the country heading into college, but a somewhat shaky season at the University of Texas definitely hurt his stock. While he averaged 11.6 points per game in his 34 appearances with Texas, those numbers didn't live up to the hype surrounding him.
Luckily for Boston, there is no rush for Bradley to be an All-Star caliber player, as the Celtics will likely only use him on occasions this season to spell starter Ray Allen at shooting guard.
He was compared to Monta Ellis by NBADraft.net coming out of college, and if he could have the same kind of production as Ellis, I think Danny Ainge and the Celtics would be thrilled.
No.9. Jermaine ONeal
After multiple knee injuries and countless miles on his legs, Jermaine O'Neal is far from the All-Star player that used to play for the Indiana Pacers. Luckily for Boston, they don't need to rely on him nearly as much.
O'Neal was signed to add depth in the front court and help fill minutes while Kendrick Perkins is still out recovering from knee surgery. As long as he can stay healthy and isn't a liability on either side of the court, the Celtics will be pretty content with what he gives them.
When Boston signed him the offseason, they only gave him a two-year, $12 million deal. While the money is a little high for a player that is 32-years-old on bad knees and clearly on the decline, he will be well worth the money if he has enough in the tank to help Boston win in the postseason.
No 8. Shaquille ONeal
Shaq has played an over-sized game of musical chairs during the past few seasons, jumping around to a new team each season. The decision to bring O'Neal to Boston could be one the Celtics regret, but that all depends on how Shaq interacts with his teammates and coaching staff.
O'Neal has clearly been a successful force in the NBA, accumulating four NBA titles during his extensive career. However, he hasn't been able to get a team to the Conference Finals since helping bring the Miami Heat a championship during the 2005-06 season.
His recent stops in Phoenix and Cleveland have both ended with the franchises coming up short of their expectations and somewhat unhappy with their decisions to bring Shaq aboard.
However, if he can gel with his teammates in Boston, he could be a solid piece in their quest to win an 18th NBA title this season. He will definitely help the Celtics in the postseason if they get matched up against Dwight Howard and the Orlando Magic.
No 7. Nate Robinson
Nate Robinson is an extremely valuable asset to the Boston Celtics because of his ability to score in massive amounts. While he may not always have the best judgment in his shot selection, Robinson has shown on several occasions that he has the rare ability to completely catch fire in games.
He is also extremely valuable because he is Boston's best and only real backup to Rajon Rondo. While the two guards play completely different styles of basketball, I think Robinson is a good compliment to Rondo's distributing abilities.
Robinson showed several times in the playoffs last season that he can come off the bench cold and catch fire shooting. As long as he can maintain that ability, he will be very important to the Celtics' success in the near future.
No 6. Glen Davis
Glen Davis brings a unique energy to the Boston Celtics. Davis is one of the most energetic big men in the NBA and can keep up with most smaller players in the open court.
If Davis can continue to grow and develop, he will likely take over for Kevin Garnett once his career comes to a close. Davis has the potential to be an All-Star in the Eastern Conference, and if he was ever given the opportunity to be the starter for Boston, I'm pretty sure he could meet those expectations.
Davis had a strong postseason in 2008-09, when he started in place of an injured Kevin Garnett. While the Celtics came up short of reaching the NBA Finals that season, it wasn't because of a lack of effort from Big Baby.
No 5. Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett is clearly showing the mileage on his body that he endured carrying a hapless Minnesota Timberwolves franchise for over a decade. After his knee injuries during the 2008-09 season, Garnett has clearly been a different player than the one that first arrived in Boston.
Garnett can barely finish at the rim if he is remotely contested, and he clearly has lost a lot of his jumping abilities. However, he is still one of the best defenders at the power forward position and brings a special energy to the Celtics. He still plays as hard as he did when he first came into the league, an impressive quality considering the condition of his knees.
KG will likely be the first of the "Big Three" to begin to decline at a rapid rate, but I think he has at least one more quality season in him before that becomes a real issue. As long as he can stay healthy and be around in the postseason, Garnett will provide more than enough to an already deep front court in Boston.
No 4. Kendrick Perkins
Kendrick Perkins will likely miss at least half this season thanks to the knee injury he sustained against the Los Angeles Lakers last season in the NBA Finals. If Perkins hadn't gone down with that injury, many Celtic fans think that series may have had a slightly different outcome.
While the Celtics brought in both O'Neals in the offseason to help fill the void, Perkins will likely retake most of the minutes at center upon his return later in the season. While he is expected to be ready sometime around the All-Star game, I wouldn't expect Doc Rivers to rush him back into action until he is completely recovered.
Perkins' recovery will be key to his ability to remain the starting center for the Celtics beyond this season. He has been a mediocre player throughout much of his career, but he was playing pretty well before going down with the knee injury. If can play at a consistently solid level, look for him to be Boston's starting center for a long time.
No 3. Ray Allen
Although Ray Allen has struggled shooting so far this season, hitting just over 40 percent of his shots, he has always been known best for his clutch shooting in the big games. Allen clearly has plenty left in the tank despite being 35 years old.
Allen is one of the best three point shooters in the history of the NBA, and he has proven on more than one occasion in the postseason that he can hit them when they are needed most. While Allen had a fairly postseason shooting from downtown last season, I wouldn't expect his numbers to be that low this year in the playoffs.
The Celtics re-signed him to a two-year, $20 million contract in the offseason, and I'm pretty confident he will be worth the investment for Boston. As long as Allen is healthy and can find his shooting touch in the playoffs, the Celtics will be a major in the East this season.
No 2. Paul Pierce
Paul Pierce has been the leader of this franchise for a long time, as he stuck through some very rough times before the franchise made the trades that formed the "Big Three". He was the MVP of the 2007-08 NBA Finals, and has been an integral part to all of Boston's recent success.
However, as with all great players that have been in the league for a long time, Pierce will likely continue to decline at this point in his career, although in his case the decline doesn't seem very rapid. Pierce is still a solid player on both ends of the floor and can score in large amounts in clutch situations.
Pierce will likely save his best performances for the postseason, as he clearly is a smart player and understands that he is getting a little older. As long as he can bring around 15 points per game and be a solid force on defense, the Celtics will be more than content with their decision to keep Pierce in Boston for the remainder of his career.
No 1. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo has clearly become the best player on the Boston Celtics roster over the past two seasons. He has transformed from a player some thought would never be good enough to hang with the "Big Three" into one of the best point guards in the NBA.
Through the first three games of the season, Rondo has a whooping 50 assists, which is an all-time NBA record. That streak also included a 24 assist performance against the New York Knicks that was one of the best performances by a point guard in Celtics history.
As long as Rondo is running things and leading the way for Boston they will be in playoff contention for a long time. If he can continue to improve his shooting and scoring capabilities, the sky really is the limit for where Rondo can take the Celtics. While the Eastern Conference is growing increasingly powerful every season, he will likely keep the team in the top echelon of the conference for quite a while.