Marquis Daniels, a reserve wingman for the Boston Celtics, is expected to miss at least one to two months minimum with a bruised spinal cord. Daniels, who has appeared in 49 of the Celtics 50 games this season, is averaging 19.1 minutes per game, and shooting 49 percent from the floor.
Daniels has had history with this type of injury before. Given the serious nature of the ailment and the propensity of the Celtics to take their time with injured players, it's really anybody's guess as to when/if he will be back with the Celtics this season.
While he might seem like just a reserve, his role on the team is incredibly important. He's easily the most versatile player on the roster, and he guards and plays three positions on a regular basis. With the wrist injury to Delonte West, Daniels has often played the role of backup point guard.
Daniels also happens to be the guy who gets the call when they need a "defensive specialist" on the likes of a Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant or LeBron James. Needless to say, Ray Allen can't chase those guys around for 48 minutes a game, and Daniels is often tasked with the backup duties.
Now, with Daniels out, the Celtics have taken a serious blow to an already undermanned perimeter. Nate Robinson is the only healthy regular off the bench. He's been asked to fill a number of different roles this season—starting and backup point guard and two-guard—and as a result his play has been sporadic.
It's not for lack of trying. Nate hasn't been disconnected with what the team is trying to do; he's just been unable to fall into any sort of consistent rhythm because of all the shuffling he's had to do.
It's no surprise that with the injury to Marquis, 20-year-old rookie Avery Bradley was recalled from the NBA D-League. Bradley, who averaged just 4.7 minutes per game in 14 games with the Celtics this year, finally got a chance to play consistent minutes.
In six games as a starter, Bradley averaged 36.8 MPG, 19.0 PPG, 6.2 APG and 6.2 RPG, while shooting .494 percent from the field, .389 from three and .864 from the free throw line.
The Celtics have danced around giving Bradley any significant minutes on the NBA level, and for a good reason. At just 20 years old, Bradley is a raw, albeit talented product, who still has a long way to go before he is NBA ready.
His ballhandling skills are less than ideal—he averaged 5.17 TO as a starter in the D-League—and any struggles could severely mess with the confidence of a player who really isn't anything more than a displaced college sophomore.
However, with the perimeter so thin, the Celtics might have little choice but to feature Bradley in more of an extended role. He didn't get into Monday night's loss to the Bobcats, but I could see him filling into Von Wafer's role (8.3 MPG), while Wafer gets even more playing time than usual (15 minutes against the Bobcats).
Offensively, the loss of Marquis doesn't worry me too much. Defensively, they lost their only true backup small forward, and they don't really have anyone who would be considered a safe play against the Kobe Bryants, LeBron James and Dwyane Wades of the world.
However, I imagine it will be Wafer who gets the call to step up and play some big defensive minutes. His defense has improved greatly this season, but it will be interesting to see how he responds in more of an involved role against players of higher caliber than he is used to.
It'll be interesting to see exactly how the Celtics account for Daniels' loss. One thing's for sure, it won't be easy, even when Delonte West comes back. Defensively, they don't have anyone with the same versatility and size as Marquis off the bench. Doc Rivers alluded to the fact that Glen Davis and Luke Harangody could see some time at the three, which we saw tonight against the Bobcats.
Dan is a Boston Celtics featured columnist. Follow him on Twitter @danhartelBR.
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