|Bruins Messy in Season Opener Against Jets||Patriots Sign RB Dion Lewis to 2-Year Contract Extension||The Yankees Lost, Ellsbury Got Benched, and I’m Still Giddy||Three Red Sox Strengths|
The Boston Celtics will begin the 2010-2011 NBA season with four forwards on their roster. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, if they can remain healthy, will provide great leadership and experience, while fourth-year pro Glen Davis will add depth and look to continue to be a spark coming off the bench.
The Celtics also added a new forward to their roster this offseason, drafting promising rookie Luke Harangody out of Notre Dame in the second round.
First, we begin with the captain.
The Celtics were quick to re-sign Paul Pierce to a four-year, $61 million deal after he opted out of his contract and became an unrestricted free agent last summer. Pierce is the Celtics captain and unquestioned leader. The veteran small forward had yet another solid season in 2009-2010, averaging 18.3 PPG.
Entering what will be his 13th season with Boston, however, Pierce has begun showing signs that his age is catching up with him. He sustained several nagging injuries last season, and his minutes per game decreased by 3.5 minutes from 2008-2009 to 2009-2010.
There’s no doubt Pierce’s physical skills have slightly declined, but his competitive edge, knowledge of the game, and ability to come through in the clutch should ensure he has another solid season in 2010-2011. With Rajon Rondo beginning to share more of the offensive load, all Pierce has to do is be consistent, something he has been throughout his 12-year career.
At 34, the once dominant Kevin Garnett is entering the twilight of his NBA-career. KG has seen his numbers steadily decline since joining the Celtics in 2007. He averaged 14.3 PPG and 7.3 RPG last season, his lowest totals since 1995-1996, his rookie year. He averaged 18.8 PPG and 9.2 RPG during the Celtics’ 2007-2008 championship season.
Although his offensive numbers have slipped, Garnett is still a force to be reckoned with on defensive end of the floor. Old age and a nearly catastrophic knee injury haven’t taken away from KG’s intensity, or his ability to intimidate.
As evidenced from his performance in last year’s playoffs, Garnett definitely still has something left in the tank.
The beginning of Glen “Big Baby” Davis’s 2009-2010 campaign was marred by a broken thumb sustained while fighting with a childhood friend less than two days before the season opener. When he finally returned to the lineup in January, he was out of shape, and it showed.
As the second half of the season progressed, however, Big Baby’s fitness level rose, and his play drastically improved, just in time for the playoffs.
The young power forward was a huge contributor coming off the bench during the playoffs. Barring another boneheaded off-the-court altercation, his defensive intensity, and willingness to crash the offensive boards during the Celtics postseason run should result in him seeing more minutes this season, especially with Garnett on the decline.
The Celtics drafted Luke Harangody out of Notre Dame in the second-round of the 2010 NBA Draft. A scoring-machine throughout his college career, Harangody averaged over 20 PPG for the Fighting Irish in his final three seasons. He was brought in to provide depth behind Paul Pierce at the small forward position.
In an October 13 preseason game versus the New York Knicks, the rookie picked up his first double-double, finishing with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Doc Rivers has always been conservative with his bench players, especially rookies; so don’t expect to see Harangody contribute much early on. If Pierce is injured however (God forbid), Harangody gives the C’s another player who is capable of producing on the offensive end.