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This edition of the Celtics Four-Point Play will be extended over a few days up to the C’s home opener against the Cavaliers next Tuesday. Overall, I’ll pose four questions the Celtics face as they head into the brand new 2008-09 season.
As you all may know, James Posey was very good as the Celtics’ sixth man last season, often filling in to make huge defensive stops or chipping in a crucial three-pointer. Effective on both sides of the ball, Posey was a force to be reckoned with and often was playing in the late stages of close games for that reason.
How can the Celtics fill his void? Well, the one big thing that Posey had over the rest of the Celtics was the Championship experience he earned with the 2005-06 NBA Champion Miami Heat. Now this season, nearly everyone on the roster has playoff experience, including those set to fit into Posey’s big shoes.
Posey did such a great job last year, it’s hard to project anyone that will step in right away to that sixth man role. If for some reason Doc decides to start Leon Powe at SF and move Paul Pierce to SG to give the team more size, then Ray Allen would be your sixth man without argument.
That scenario is unlikey as Ray is poised for an even better year than last year. Who else will step up? Let’s take a look at a possible sixth-man-by-committee:
He seems like the obvious choice after his breakout in the postseason, but Powe’s game still has holes and is a different type of role player from Posey. Powe plays around and above the rim, which is good. He’s effective when down below, but take him 10 feet from the hoop and it’s a different story.
In order to be a solid sixth man, you need to combine solid defense (he’s got it) with the ability to score in bunches (he’s working on that). Powe will receive extended minutes as a result of Posey’s departure, but don’t expect a Posey-type player when he steps on the floor. Expect to see the Leon Powe you saw in the playoffs, because I don’t see his game regressing at all.
House is another player that gained invaluable playoff experience (eventually) last season. Doc quickly realized in the playoffs that at times you need a spark plug like House to come in and hit a quick three or make a quick steal.
There’s no denying that Eddie House can score in bunches, but his game has a ton of holes. His defense is inadequate at best, and he’s not confident when bringing the ball up the floor, which is something you could trust Posey to do a few times. If you combine Powe and House you get a player similar to Posey, which makes Doc’s job a lot harder. He has to pick and choose the right situations for both players.
Besides James Posey, you could argue that there was no better perimeter defender off the bench than Tony Allen. Last year was a weird year for Tony, as he was coming off major surgery because of a stupid attempt at a wild dunk after the whistle in the disastrous 2006-07 season.
As the year wore on, Tony seemed to get more comfortable on his surgically repaired knee, but he was playing as if he were cautiously optimistic. This year, Tony could finally bust out in a big way off the bench. His knee is now 100% healed, he has a contract he’s comfortable with, and he now has a ton of playoff experience under his belt.
If he figures out his game more, he can become a dangerous offensive weapon. His shooting must improve, but he definitely can drive to the rim and draw a foul or finish a dunk with authority. We all know his defense is there, so I’d say he’s the closest of the Celtics role players to filling the James Posey role.
Typically, sixth men are shooting guards or small forwards that can be versatile by slotting back and forth between positions based on matchups. For our darkhouse candidates, we have J.R. Giddens (a point guard/shooting guard) and Bill Walker (small forward). Combining these players, like Leon Powe and Eddie House, probably would be close to a young James Posey, but such a thing is impossible so its futile to discuss it.
In J.R. Giddens, the Celtics have an decent three-point shooter who has a knack for getting a good share of rebounds on both ends of the court. Defensively, Giddens plays hard and has good instincts. His main problem is driving to the hoop, which can be crucial for a sixth man in a close game. Sixth man may never be Giddens’ role anyway, as Danny Ainge sees him as a potential backup point guard.
Bill Walker is more intriguing. He’s a freakishly-skilled athlete, and has the raw talent to dunk with the best of him. If anything, he’s a great guy to play at home games to keep the crowd noise up. Walker still needs to develop more of an outside shooting game to be considered a sixth man, and his defensive skills (mainly effort) needs to drastically improve as well. Walker is probably a future sixth man for the Celtics many years from now.
Tony Allen seems to be the most logical choice if I had to choose one, but the most likely scenario (at first) will be a committee approach based on potential matchups on the court. If Tony has confidence in his knee and a renewed commitment to his game, then he can probably grab hold of the role by midseason.
Who is ready to fill James Posey's former role?
Total Voters: 13