Sully, Avery, and the Future of the Celtics: An Intro – 11/11/13

This post was originally written and uploaded on November 11th, 2013.

Hello! Welcome to TakeMeToTheHoop.com, a new basketball blog ran and written by me.

Who is me?

Me is a kid from Boston with a love for basketball. Though I do love my Celts and will probably be posting about them more often than other teams, this is still wholly an NBA blog. Follow me on the Twitter @mjmckenna7, or check out the Facebook page.

As a loyal Bostonian, it’s only fitting for me to kick off the blog by talking a little about the Celtics.

If you know anything about this year’s Celtics squad, some of the same words will probably come to your mind as they do to mine.

Bad.
The bluntest, yet most comprehensive word that describes this team. Let me tell you straight out, this team, even with Rajon Rondo, is not good. I’ll be elaborating on this point throughout the post.

Young.
The average age of the 2013-14 Celtics is 25.9, good for right smack in the middle of the league. However, this seems downright sprightly when compared to the teams they trotted out the last couple of years – primarily, as you may know, due to the blockbuster draft-day trade that sent aging legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett (and aging ninja turtle Jason Terry) to the Brooklyn Nets. The young new core of the team includes Avery Bradley (age 22), Kelly Olynyk (22), Jared Sullinger (21), Jeff Green (27), and, of course, Rajon Rondo (27). I’ll be talking about the players in more detail later.

Perplexing.
The Boston roster is in no way what an NBA roster should look like. I’ll rate each position by how bewildered I am with it on a scale of one to five Javales.

  • FIVE shooting guards (Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford, Keith Bogans, Courtney Lee, Marshon Brooks)
    RATING: lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1
  • FOUR power forwards (Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries)
    RATING: lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1
  • ONE true center (my man Vitor Faverani)
    RATING: lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1
  • ONE healthy point guard (Phil Pressey) and ONE injured point guard (Rajon Rondo)
    RATING: lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1 lMG7gH1
  • TWO small forwards (Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green)
    RATING: lMG7gH1

Of course, the predominant reason why this roster was so haphazardly put together and deserves so many Javales is that it is not built to win. It’s built to develop the younger players and hopefully make the older players seem attractive as trade pieces. The only two players who don’t fall into the “developing player” or “trade piece player” categories are Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo; honestly, if we don’t get better in the next couple of years, however talented they are, they might just fall into the “trade piece” pile.

Now for the meaty part of the post – the player analysis. This’ll be a sort of stream-of-consciousness lowdown on every player, in numerical order, on the team, including how they fit into the present and future of the organization. I’ll rate their potential with the team on a scale of one to five Pauls, factoring in age, ability, and fit with the team.

0 – AVERY BRADLEY

Avery is a fourth-year 6’2″ guard out of Texas, drafted 19th overall in 2010 by the Celts. The first thing that comes to anyone’s mind when Avery is mentioned is, of course, his defense. Recognized last year with a second team All-Defense selection, his relentless tenacity on the defensive end makes him a headache for whomever he guards. His size, however, can be an issue at times – bigger, stronger point guards like Ray Felton and Greivis Vasquez can bully his 180 pound frame around pretty easily. On the offensive end, Avery is, in a word, lacking. Another word might be disgusting. Another might be despicable. He is in no way an NBA-caliber offensive point guard. He struggles when handling the ball under pressure and has limited court vision and passing skills – two qualities that make him very prone to turnovers. Avery is a lot more comfortable off the ball; while not a knockout shooter, he’s developed a nice elbow jumper, and he makes some really timely and crafty weakside cuts. Nonetheless, he’s definitely a minus player on the offensive end.
Because of these offensive deficiencies, I’m not really sure where Avery fits into the future of this team. If paired with an offensive wizard at PG such as Rondo, his weaknesses can be somewhat masked. I’d say his ideal role on a contending team would be playing 25-30 minutes a game at the two guard, with most, if not all, of those minutes paired with a distributing PG or an offensive sparkplug off the bench. I’ve like the Bradley-Crawford and Bradley-Pressey backcourts so far this season (in which he plays off the ball), but the Bradley-Lee, Bradley-Green, or (god forbid) Bradley-Bogans backcourts aren’t going to be anything but ugly. Overall, Bradley is a nice role player, and he is already a Tony Allen caliber shooting guard, but I wouldn’t call him a cornerstone.

RATING: paul paul paul

4 – KEITH BOGANS

Bogans is a 33-year-old 6’5″ shooting guard, drafted 43rd overall by Milwaukee in 2003. Now on his 9th team in 13 years, he was a throw-in in the PP&KG trade this summer, and I think that’s all he’s going to be this year. On offense, he’s solely a spot-up shooter, but his career 3pt% (.353) is just about league average. He’s an above-average perimeter defender, but he isn’t as athletic as he used to be. He’s essentially a much worse version of Avery Bradley – even more limited on the offensive end, and worse by a significant amount on defense. From what I’ve seen in his interviews, he seems like a standup guy, and I’m sure he’s a great locker room presence. The fact of the matter is – Bulls fans who suffered through a year of him as their starting shooting guard can attest to this – he’s not effective on the court. The Celts can renounce his $5.1 mil contract next year, and I’m sure they will.

RATING: NO PAULS

7 – JARED SULLINGER

Sully is a 21-year-old 6’9″ power forward, drafted 21st overall by Boston in 2012. He slipped in the draft last year because of a lingering back injury, and he missed the second half of last year to get back surgery, but when he has been playing he’s looked like a steal. Sully will never be the most athletic guy on the court, but he’s one of the most skilled young big men in the game right now. He has a soft touch around the rim and considerable range on his jumper (he’s attempted more threes this year already than he did all of last year). Perhaps the strongest aspect of Sully’s game is his rebounding. Listed at a hefty 260 pounds, he uses the same weapon to his advantage as historically great rebounders Moses Malone and Charles Barkley: his ass. Let me tell you, it’s gargantuan. He uses it to carve out space while boxing out, fighting for offensive rebounds, and posting up. Defensively, he’ll obviously never be a rim protector, but he is strong like bull and plays smart team defense pretty consistently.
I love Sully. I really think he has the potential to be a David West caliber player, and if he refines his post game a little bit, I think he could be a great third option on a contending team. He creates extra possessions on offense, plays smart defense, and has a polished offensive game. If I were Danny Ainge, I’d do whatever I could to keep him on this team.

RATING: paul paul paul paul

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