Monday, May 22, 2006


2006 Season in Rear View - part 2 "What Went Right"

Here I am sitting in the aftermath of a grotesque Preakness Stakes with many jotted notes and half-finished articles about the Celtics 2005/06, and very little by way of actual coherence. Fittingly, much like the team itself, everything I write about them seems disjointed, unclear and uninspired. Perhaps this is the natural consequence of the process of autopsy, but it amazes me that other blog-sources are able to maintain an enthusiasm about the future of a team that seems to promise nothing but more DOA seasons like the one we just witnessed.

Anyway, I'll try to get more current later this week with the talk about Doc's future and the revisionist motherfucking of Ricky Davis, but for now, our 2005/06 wrap-up continues with the few things that went right this season.

Kendrick Perkins – Perk started the season on a precipice, with a body of work in 04/05 that ranged from impressive difference-making performances to psychotically out of control embarrassments. After a phenomenal pre-season, he was inexplicably buried on the bench in favor of Mark Blount and Brian Scalabrine, but managed to force his way into the starting lineup as the season progressed, simply by virtue of the fact that he was (and remains) the toughest Celtics big man and the only one who can consistently rebound. His shoulder separation injury robbed him of 13 games, and Doc’s stubbornness/stupidity robbed him of full time minutes in many more, but he showed this year that despite 5.2/5.9 averages, he could become a legit 12/9 type player when he fully matures. Not earth shattering, but definitely worth re-signing, and something of a steal for an under-celebrated high school-er picked at 27 in a top-heavy draft. Celtics fans everywhere are uncertain whether to celebrate or bemoan the fact that his modest production and consistent improvement have managed to overshadow the once blinding light of his fellow man-child, Al Jefferson.

Trading Mark Blount – Danny’s greatest folly as a GM was signing the softest and dumbest big-man in the league to a 6 year deal after the 2004 season, committing over 10% of our total payroll to a no-talent locker room cancer who showed all signs of shitting the bed big-time after having had an irreproducible career season. In the two years after signing his deal, Blount became a classic case of a guy who gets minutes simply because he's owed big money, and regardless of how badly he fucked up on and off the court, he was given infinite second chances to regain a prominent role on the floor. For a team that had to endure years of inept front court play from Walter McCarty and Antoine Walker in the service of Jim O’Brien style small-ball, Blount’s inability and unwillingness to pursue rebounds or play adequate man-to-man defense was too much to forgive, regardless if his strangely pristine 15 foot jump shot was falling. Blount is about as big of a fuckhead as you’ll find in the league, and though it required us to take on the overpaid/under-knee-ed Wally Szczerbiak, any deal in which he and his grotesque salary are jettisoned has to be considered a steal.

Gerald Green – After sliding from a likely top-three pick all the way down to the Celtics at 18, most observers (this one included) concluded that our pit-bull loving teenager had raised a red flag large enough to be seen from Portland to New York after a controversial work-out cancellation started a storm of murmurs prior to the draft. In hindsight, he probably had his head up his ass after all of the "next McGrady" talk, but thankfully the Celtics actually handled his situation correctly, allowing him to get torched in training camp so that he himself recognized the utility of going to the NBDL for some seasoning and professional coaching. To his credit, he came back, yes, with humility, but more importantly his enthusiasm was undiminished, and when he finally got some run towards the end of the season, his dunks, his beautiful jump shot and his joy for the game were a lot of fun to watch. It’s still difficult to determine if he’s on the road to becoming a baby McGrady or just a Desmond Mason with insane hops, but he was a good pick at where we got him (I’d still take Granger had he been available) and the Celtics ownership, ever aware of the marketing implications of a young, dunk-happy athletic freak, seem committed to seeing what he can do next year.

(NOTE – these were selected for their lack of ambiguity. For instance, Delonte West was a highlight this year, but as much as he became a fan favorite and a reliable shooter, he still raises more questions than he answers. The same goes for Paul Pierce, who had the best season of his career contrasted against the stark reality of a 33 win season)

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