What's on the Menu? "mmmmmm . . . Basketball!!!!"

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

SDH Presents the NBA's Worst to First for November: 13. Boston Celtics

Overall Win/Loss Record (as of November 30th):  9-7,  third place Atlantic Division




12
This Month:
13
Team Statistics and League Rank (as of November 30th)
Points Scored: 99.3 (12th)
Points Allowed: 100.1 (23rd)
Team FG%: .478 (2nd)
Opponent’s FG%: .463 (27th)
Rebounds per game: 36.9 (30th)
Opponents rebounds per game: 41.9 (12th)
Turnovers per game: 13.9 (6th)
Opponents turnovers per game: 15.2 (15th)

Individual Statistical Leaders

Scoring (ppg): Paul Pierce (20.1)
Rebounds per game:  Kevin Garnett (7.1)
Minutes per game: Rajon Rondo (38.5)
Assists per game: Rajon Rondo (13.7)
Steals per game: Rajon Rondo (1.9)
Blocked Shots per game: Kevin Garnett (0.8)

Worst Player of the Month:  Darko Milicic



The Darko Milicic era has finally ended in the NBA as he has decided to head back to his homeland Serbia to be with his ailing mother.  Although quite noble, it is also rather disappointing for fans who have followed Milicic his entire career hoping that his stint in Boston would revitalize a once failure of a career.  By all accounts, Darko Milicic will probably never return to the NBA as he has been given chance after chance to prove that he was a worthy second pick of the 2003 after Lebron James, but has failed on every count.  Now it seems as both Darko and the NBA have both decided to part ways cleaning the slate for both sides and Darko has a chance to finally move on from a career that has offered more bloopers than highlights.  So best of luck to you, Darko as you leave from the shattered pieces that was once your NBA career.   

First Player of the Month: Rajon Rondo



Rajon Rondo was headed for another career milestone almost reaching Magic Johnson’s streak of consecutive double digit assist games until he was thwarted by an ejection and probable suspension in his game against the Brooklyn Nets (11/28/2012).  Now as a result of an early game fight with Brooklyn' s Kris Humphries, Rondo will be sitting on the sidelines waiting for his punishment from the NBA.  Nonetheless, it does not diminish the fact that Rondo has been the best performing Celtic player in the first month of the season.  He has given his usual contributions of assists, steals, and energy for his team along with a budding offensive game that includes an extended shooting range shooting a career high .353 from the three point line for the month of November.  If his adopted shooting range extension is permanent, Rondo can be an even more dangerous player than he already is.

Analysis:

The Boston Celtics entered the season with plenty of hope and optimism as GM Danny Ainge kept all but one of the players from last season’s squad that brought the Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated in the last game.  Unfortunately, the Celtics have been off to a rather sluggish start finished just one game over .500 and has been resting on second to last in the Atlantic Division trailing the New York Knicks, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers.  Why might one ask that a team coming in with expectations to challenge the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference be in such dire straits?  It is quite simple really—because Celtics GM Danny Ainge brought back all the players, except one who wisely chose to leave as a free agent, from last season’s squad that brought the Miami Heat to seven games Miami Heat to seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals before being eliminated in the last game.

Ainge should have accepted the fact that last season was the best his veteran team could have done, break the team apart and start rebuilding it with the huge blessing of cap space inherited by the expiring contracts of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen that amounted to close to 40$ million.  Instead, he chose to take a significant amount of that cap space, about 12$ million of it, and resigned an already 36 year old Kevin Garnett to three more years removing any chance of his team being able to acquire a marquee name in a free agent class which will include Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum, Chris Paul, and Josh Smith to name a few.  He then squandered another 5$ million for the next three years on an already aging Jason Terry who was wisely let go by the Dallas Mavericks.  To finish it off, Ainge used 14$ million more to take a chance and gave big contracts to a player who missed an entire year due to a heart complication in Jeff Green (4 years, 36$ million) and Courtney Lee (4 years, 20$ million), a player who essentially had one fantastic month out of an otherwise average season.  Add the resigning of veteran Brandon Bass to three more years  at 18$ million, Danny Ainge wasted all that precious cap space and essentially chained himself to an already aging and deteriorating team for the next three or four years.

Thus far the Celtics have only proven any if not all allegations that they simply no longer have it to make it to the playoffs, let alone remain a championship contender.  Boston started the month of November on a low note losing three of their first five games—winning two just barely against the worst team in the league, the Washington Wizards.  They did manage to bounce back winning seven of their next eleven games earning them a respectable finish ending November with a 9-7 record; unfortunately, however, the Celtics have gone 5-7 since then and are just barely hanging on with a .500 record.  This was certainly not the result that Danny Ainge was envisioning when he choose to maintain the team’s rotting core in the hopes of making another deep playoff run—he especially did not envision his elderly roster to rank at the bottom defensively allowing their opponents to shot close to .470 from the field and out-rebound them by a close +5 margin.

The Celtics are a team just barely hanging on and all they need is just one losing run to close the door on any chances to reach the postseason for the sixth straight year in a row.  Both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have shown signs of wearing down as Pierce has slowly begun to lose his signature shooting touch and Garnett’s production, along with his abilities, have continued to decline.  Their new additions to their roster have not lived up to expectation by the least as newcomer Jason Terry has shown signs of his age as his numbers have dropped to career lows while Courtney Lee, who many expected to pick up where he left off after posting career highs in Houston, has been a complete bust so far.  Jeff Green has shown signs of being a solid NBA player, but has not shown by any means that he is a player that Boston can build a franchise around nor has he shown that he was worth the 9$ million per year that the team signed him to. By the looks of things, there is only one direction that the Celtics are headed and it is certainly not up—and they have no one to blame for their predicament but themselves.

Thanks to the moves made by the team’s General Manager, Danny Ainge, the team has virtually handcuffed itself to bad contracts for the next three years ruining any chance of it going anywhere but down.  Overestimating the abilities of an aging Kevin Garnett is one thing, but to pay him 36$ million—an amount that could have netted an equally talented but younger player—was not only unwise and foolish, but also potentially self destructive as well.  Now the Celtics are stuck with making the best of an increasingly worse situation for the next three years as they continually drift further into irrelevance.  To think this could have been all avoided makes it even more frustrating to watch this team scratch and claw their way through the season while they get left behind by the rest in the league.  Unfortunately for the Celtics, their team’s front office sealed their fate for not only this season, but for the next three after thereafter.