Boston Celtics: A Few Ramblings While Cleaning Out My Desk Drawer

Stew Winkel@stew_winkelSenior Analyst IJune 26, 2008

It has been a week, and I am still smiling over the Celtics winning Title 17.

Between enjoying everything that comes with winning and catching up on missed work due to watching all the games—and then discussing them the next day when I should have been working—I have slept very little the past 10 days or so. As such, I probably am unable of putting together a coherent article. 

But years of reading sports journalists has taught me when you can’t think of one idea to write an article about, just throw together a bunch of random thoughts to make it look like you are actually working hard.  Mostly this is just an excuse so I can put another picture of the Celtics celebrating on one more article.

  • Paul Pierce, who will be 31 in October, will enter his 11th NBA season next year with the following rankings in Celtics’ history: 10th in games played (732), sixth in points (16,945), second in scoring average (23.1), second in free throw attempts (5,777), third in free throws made (4594), and eighth in assists (2889). When it comes to scoring, by the end of next season, Pierce should pass Bob Cousy (16,955), Kevin McHale (17,355) and Robert Parish (18,245), which would leave him behind only Larry Bird (21,791) and John Havlicek (26,395).  
  • From the Red Sox celebration and parade last Fall, Jonathan Papelbon revealed himself to the public as the team goof/clown.  The Celtics' version? Glen Davis.
  • Tonight is the NBA draft.  Boston won’t pick until 30 (it's been a long time since the C’s were not in the upper half of the draft).  If Danny Ainge has had a strength since taking over the Celtics, it has been the draft, in particular finding talent in later picks.  These have been Ainge’s finds in the draft:  2003, Kendrick Perkins (27th overall); 2004, Al Jefferson (15th), Delonte West (24th), and Tony Allen (25th);  2005, Ryan Gomes (50th); 2006, Rajon Rondo (21st) and Leon Powe (49th); and 2007, Glen Davis (35th).  You could make strong arguments that if their respective drafts were held today, both Jefferson and Rondo would be top five picks, and that second rounders Gomes, Powe and Davis would all be first round picks at least in the top 20.
  • Of the players Ainge wound up with after the draft, the only selections he would likely want to do over would probably be Marcus Banks with the 13th pick in 2003, and Gerald Green with the 18th pick in 2005.  In Aing’e defense, both picks appeared to be the right choice at the time.  And while I do not expect much out of Marcus Banks the rest of his career, it is still far too early to give up on someone as athletic and young (22) as Green.
  • There are many reasons why Boston fell so far for so long between 1986 and 2008. Poor drafting absolutely ranks right up there in any explanation.  Some examples: 1989, Michael Smith (13th overall); 1992, Jon Barry (21st); 1993, Acie Earl (19th); 1994, Eric Montross (9th); 1997, Ron Mercer (6th); 2000, Jerome Moiso (11th); 2001, Kedrick Brown (11th) and Joe Forte (21st).  Thankfully in 2002, Boston didn’t have a first round pick to use on the wrong guy, and then Ainge showed up in ’03.   
  • Now that Boston has the championship, I can actually look back at some of the players the C’s passed up on and not want to jam a pen in my eye:  1989:  Tim Hardaway, Dana Baros, Shawn Kemp, Vlade Divac, Cliff Robinson;  1992, Latrell Sprewell; 1993, Sam Cassell, Nick Van Exel; 1994, Eddie Jones, Jalen Rose; 1997, Tracy McGrady, Bobby Jackson, and God Shamgod (just kidding, just wanted to type that name); 2000, Michael Redd, Eddie House, Hedo Turkoglu; 2001, Vladimir Radmanovic, Richard Jefferson, Tony Parker. Drafting is an imperfect science, but that sure does appear to be an awful lot of regrets.  
  • It seems Chicago will take Derrick Rose at number one.  If Miami is really that unhappy with Michael Beasley, all the other teams in the lottery should be on the phone constantly trying to move up for that pick to grab Beasley.  I am not the biggest college basketball fan, but I don’t recall seeing much of Kansas State on national TV and advancing in the NCAA Tournament before Beasley’s arrival. It has been 10 years since Paul Pierce slipped in the NBA draft, and it still motivates him.  Slipping to two isn’t quite the same as Pierce falling to 10, but I think whatever team winds up with Beasley, they are going to get the most talented player in the draft with a chip on his shoulder.  The chip will be there if he winds up in Miami, and the chip will be huge if it is anywhere else—which is why Minnesota has to be praying Miami keeps the pick and takes someone else, leaving Beasley for the Wolves at three.
  • A player I think could add value to a team from later in the draft—along the lines of Ryan Gomes, Leon Powe, and Craig Smith—is Indiana's D.J. White.  He won't be a star, but I think White can be a consistent contributor and the type of player all teams would love to have coming off their bench.
  • The Detroit Pistons right now remind me of a little kid who sees a fire engine and declares he wants to be a fireman, then sees a police car and wants to be a policeman, then sees a cookie and wants a cookie.  They just want everything they see. In the last few weeks, we have read stories about the Pistons being interested in Carmelo Anthony, Josh Smith, Baron Davis.  Every time a big name is rumored to possibly be leaving his current team, the next day there is a story the Pistons might be interested.  
  • It has been written all over the place about how ESPN’s so-called experts all picked against the Celtics (except for Tim Legler).  People make mistakes, predictions are not easy.  But maybe ESPN shouldn't be calling these people "experts." And if I remember correctly, not one of ESPN's experts picked either the Red Sox or the Rockies to reach the World Series at the start of the 2007 MLB postseason.
  • Marc Stein, one of those experts who picked the Lakers (in five), wrote a column last week that in part discussed whether the Celtics can repeat.  In it he wrote it will be easier for Boston to do it than it was for the Spurs because the Celtics are in the East.  Can’t any of these guys spare a second to do any research or actual thought? We all know the West top to bottom is better than the East.  Nothing new there.  It's like when Stephen A. Smith used to repeatedly yell about Rasho Nesterovic (when he was with the Spurs) not being as good as Shaq—thanks Stephen, we get it. 
  • But more importantly, once the playoffs start, top to bottom doesn’t matter as much.  Focusing on the West being better top to bottom is the underlying reason why so many people wrongly picked the Lakers—L.A. won the tough West easier than Boston won the weak East, therefore, L.A. should win.  This of course ignored the facts that Boston dominated the Lakers in two regular-season games, dominated the West all regular season, beat the Cavs, who reached the Finals the year before, and then beat the Pistons, the second-best team in the league.  Meanwhile, L.A. beat a Denver team that didn’t play any defense, a good Utah team, and a tired Spurs team with a hurting Manu Ginolbi.  Boston and Detroit had the two best records in the league. Boston was 23-5 against the West, Detroit 20-8 (15-3 in their last 18).  Against the four finalists in the West (Lakers, Spurs, Hornets, Jazz), during the regular season, Boston was 6-2, Detroit 5-3.    
  • And, the East should be much improved next year, making the road to the Finals out of the East anything but easy.  Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen have at least one more run in them.  Joe Dumars has vowed change in Detroit, and I don’t think that means starting over.  Any team LeBron James is on is going to be an extremely difficult out in the playoffs.  The Magic should only get better, same for the Sixers and the Hawks.  If Washington holds on to Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, they are a very good team.  Toronto just acquired Jermaine O’Neal to play with Chris Bosh, and the Heat are a few hours away from adding the No. 2 pick in the draft to play with Dwayne Wade and Shawn Marion.  Not to mention Chicago—the team many experts thought would play in this year’s finals—are adding the No. 1 pick in the draft to their squad.  On the other hand, the West will still be tough, with the Lakers, Hornets, Jazz, and Blazers potentially much improved next season.  But Dallas, Phoenix and San Antonio should all take a step back. If Denver returns the same nucleus, I don’t see that team being any better.  Same for Houston, a team that played better without Yao than with him.  
  • Final thought: The Boston Celtics won the championship, and yet I still hate Rick Pitino.   

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