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Another NBA season has come and gone and this one unfortunately ended without banner No. 18. I think now is the perfect time to take a look at the Celtics and what needs to be done to get them back to their rightful place on the NBA throne. Here are five things that I think will put the Celtics back in position to claim next year’s NBA championship.
Obviously this is the biggest one. While nothing is definite, I think it is safe to say the Celts would have made a real run for the title if Kevin Garnett had been healthy for the playoffs. With that said, for Garnett to sit out the whole playoffs as intense as he is (I thought a couple times during the Bulls series he was going to walk on the court and sucker punch Joakim Noah), his injury was really serious. As sure as I am we would have won the title with Garnett, I am just as sure that we cannot win another championship without a healthy “Big Ticket.”
Right now, our backup shooting guards and small forwards are: Tony Allen, Bill Walker, J.R. Giddens, and Eddie House. Not exactly a group that overwhelms you. Walker and Giddens have no experience. Allen is the worst player on our team. He is legitimately close to useless and anyone who argues Tony Allen could ever play extended minutes for a championship team is either delusional or related to him.
As much as I love Eddie, he is a shooting guard in a point guard’s body. When Eddie’s shot is on he’s great but when it isn’t falling there is no point to having him in the game. A guy like Matt Barnes or Ime Udoka could be a good addition at a decent price. Both guys would bring an athletic bigger wing player who can hit three pointers and defend, something the Celtics sorely missed after losing James Posey.
I may be in the minority here, but I think that by re-signing Glen “Big Baby” Davis and Leon Powe and with the return of KG, the Celts front court problems could be solved. The front court was exposed in the playoffs to a certain degree and the Mikki Moore signing was a flop on par with “Waterworld.”
However, two good things came from the playoffs. The first being Big Baby’s emergence. The second being that Brian Scalabrine actually played some important minutes and proved himself to be useful. Barring another injury, if the Celtics can bring back Powe and Big Baby, I think our front court will be set.
The backup point guard position has been a problem spot for the C’s for the past two years. It’s time that they resolved the issue. If they think Stephon Marbury can be that guy, then sign him and instill him in the spot for the whole season. I personally am iffy on whether or not he would be able to handle playing backup minutes for a whole season. However, I don’t think he is going to be beating away potential suitors. He behaved himself while he was here last season and could be worth it. If Marbury can find his game, and I think there is a chance he could with a full training camp under his belt, then our point guard troubles will be resolved. If he is not back next season or plays poorly, then the picture becomes much less clear.
I think it is clear that the team is not sold on Eddie House as the backup point guard and for good reason. Gabe Pruitt is serviceable at best and certainly will not be playing big minutes for a championship caliber team next year. The point guard market this off season is somewhat sparse too. Anthony Carter and Royal Ivey are two guys who are available but they’ll be taking offers from some other teams for probably more money than the Celtics want to spend.
Rajon Rondo emerged last season as one of the top point guards in the league. He showed a mean streak in the playoffs and an ability to fill up the stat sheet in a multitude of categories. Now, he needs to take the next step. With the Big Three getting another year older, Rondo will be relied on to carry more of a load next season. He must continue to improve his jump shot to a point where defenders can no longer sag off of him to double Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, or Garnett.
He must also develop his floater. A lot of times in the playoffs, particularly against Orlando, Rondo would make a good play and attack the basket. As a big man stepped out on him he would either drive too far and get blocked, force a pass, or take an awkward floater. While the floater was the right decision in most of those scenarios, Rondo didn’t have the ability to make that shot yet with consistency, which caused the other problems.
If he can come back next season with a serviceable floater and a decent jumper, he could be in line for a monster season and his first all-star appearance, as well as his second championship.