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Who would have thought that Rasheed Wallace would be an antidote to the Celtics’ front court woes? The guy has spent the greater part of his 14-year career as one of the most infamous players in the NBA. Rasheed has been battle-tested, and occasionally battle-approved, since he first set foot on an NBA court with the Washington Bullets (yes, the Bullets) in 1995. Now, however, Wallace is a seasoned vet on a team with a handful of seasoned vets, and he has embellished that role thus far this season.
In his first nine games with the Celtics, Wallace has averaged 10.7 points and 4.1 rebounds in 21.8 minutes off the bench. Key words: off the bench. Over the past ten seasons, Wallace started 741 of the 756 games he played. In a Celtics uniform, he has zero starts in nine games. I must admit that much to my surprise, the notoriously hot-headed Wallace has been playing his part quite nicely.
Quick quiz question: What does it take to become a notorious hot-head in the NBA?
A) A career total of 299 technical fouls and 24 ejections
B) Forty (40) technical fouls in one season
C) Breaking your own NBA record of thirty-eight (38) technicals in one season
D) Earning a seven (7) game suspension for threatening Tim Donaghy after a 2003 game
E) Being fined $25,000 in the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals for some choice words expressing your sentiments about your opponent (the Celtics) flopping to get foul calls
F) All of the above
Answer: F) All of the above.
But let’s let bygones be bygones, shall we? Rasheed is a force to be reckoned with for the Celtics, and despite coming off the bench, he is averaging only four fewer minutes than starting center Kendrick Perkins. Wallace seems to have a good grasp on his role on the team, and has been nothing short of an asset to the Celtics, even considering his seemingly contagious technical foul tendency.
The Celtics (not including Doc) amassed 46 technical fouls last season, led by Perkins’ 12. In nine games this season, the Celtics have been T’d up eight times, led by, you guessed it, Wallace’s league-leading three technicals. At this rate, the Celtics will have 72 by the end of the season, and Rasheed will only end up with 27. Wait, only 27? Since when does 27 technicals earn a pat on the back?
Rasheed is arguably one of the most hated players in the league, and having him on a top-tier team with bold personalities like KG, Perkins, and Rondo means that emotions will be running high all season. The Celtics are bound to butt heads with both opponents and refs. Frankly, that isn’t a bad thing. The Celtics have something to prove this year, and if it takes a few technical fouls to blow off some steam and fire each other up, so be it. This Celtics team isn’t going to take crap from anyone, which implicitly gives Rasheed the green light to continue his technical-prone legacy and bring his teammates along for the ride. In moderation, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The most baffling aspect of Rasheed’s first nine games in Boston is his affinity for the three-pointer. He is listed as a 6’11″ forward/center, yet he has accounted for 57 of the Celtics’ 173 three-point attempts. For all you non-math majors out there, that is nearly one-third of the team’s long-range attempts. In 81 games with the Blazers in 1999-2000, Rasheed attempted 50 threes for the season. Granted, over the past five years he has not been afraid to hoist shots from downtown, but should he really be getting twice as many three-point looks as Eddie House?
In Rasheed’s defense, he was shooting 42.5% (17-40) from three in his first six games in a Celtic uniform. Not in Rasheed’s defense, he has shot a less-than desirable 11.8% (2-17) from distance over the past three games. Again, for all the non-math majors, 42.5 is more than 11.8.
Rasheed’s respectable overall three-point percentage (33.3%) does not, however, make up for his poor field goal percentage. He has the lowest field goal percentage (40%) of any Celtic who averages more than 15 minutes per game. With shooters like Pierce, Allen, and House, Rasheed should focus on getting himself better looks inside, which would bolster his stats and open up better outside looks for his teammates. If Wallace can become a consistent inside-outside threat, the Celtics will be tough to beat.
Rasheed Wallace has brought a new dynamic to the Celtics in terms of matchups, scoring distribution, and attitude. Provided that he can keep his cool (relatively speaking), he will be a crucial factor to the Celtics’ success this season. Rasheed has four All-Star nods and one NBA Championship under his headband, and while his All-Star teammates diminish his prospect for a fifth All-Star appearance, their collective powers enhance the prospect of bringing the Larry O’Brien Trophy back to Boston.
Hopefully it will not be necessary to compose a future article entitled “Sheed is Peeved” with potential headings including, but not limited to: “Sheed’s Greed,” “Sheed’s Misdeed,” “Sheed in Need,” or “Sheed Impedes.”