ESPN did a players ranking the other day and in the preview mentioned a “Gasol” being number 10. I almost felt compelled to pick my laptop and throw it across the room until I realized the Gasol ESPN’s referring to is Marc Gasol. I breathed a sigh of relief. Can I just say something that I like to always emit? Marc Gasol is a bad motherfucker. The Memphis Grizzlies had one hell of a playoff run until the San Antonio Spurs swept them in the Western Conference Finals. Then they, uh, fired Lionel Hollins for no good reasons and will likely be revisiting the cellar of pro basketball pretty soon, but I digress.
Look out for the Indiana Pacers this season. I’m so close to calling them the undisputed best team in the Eastern Conference. How can I do that, you ask? Because there’s no reason for them not to be better than they were last year, and that’s a scary thought. With the Miami Heat possibly defusing, the Pacers’ best competition might as well be the Chicago Bulls.
(NOTE: By the way, it annoys me how sports have become increasingly known as a mere game of statistics. Listen, I love stats, but when I see people dissing guys like George Hill or Deron Williams because of certain numbers, I rage. Use your eyes. The eye test tells all. Watch the games. Many people just don’t understand that it’s hard for a guy like Hill to rack up a bunch of assists in an offense that features predominantly multiple dribble post-up players from David West and Roy Hibbert to one-on-ones with Paul George. Steve Nash would put up even worse numbers if he played in an offense like the Pacers’. Same thing with Chris Paul — throwing lobs to West and Hibbert is a perennial joke compared to Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan. Going back to Williams, he had the same problem with the Nets in the early part of 2012 with Brook Lopez and Joe Johnson. He throws it in the post and Lopez is throwing it up within seven dribbles. Joe Johnson does the same thing Paul George does except he’s older and slower. No wonder Williams’ numbers were so deflated during the early goings of 2012.
Too many people just see numbers and draw ignorant conclusions. Too many guys would throw a temper tantrum over an offense that doesn’t center around their abilities yet wins games.)
I’m loving Gerald Wallace’s role with the Boston Celtics. According to other teams, is he overpaid? Sure, especially how his numbers dwarfed from 2011 to 2012, but he’s excelling in his role in the green and if he maintains that level of play through the first few months of the season the Celtics could very well see some deep pocketed contenders come calling about a potential trade. Wallace isn’t the kind of guy you can build around long term, but he could very well be an excellent addition to a team looking to be a contender this year. Just because things didn’t work out so well in Brooklyn doesn’t mean he can’t thrive somewhere else. He can prove that as a Celtic and then take his talents to the playoffs if some team is willing to pay his salary the next 2.5 years.
I’m awaiting Rajon Rondo’s highly anticipated return, but he won’t be fully recovered until next season, so I’m sitting here and wondering how much better he’s going to make the offense? The flow of the Celtics’ offense was much better last year when he wasn’t on the floor. He needs to develop a dependable jumper. I cringe every time he shoots. It’s almost like going into a kitchen, blindfolding yourself with two eyes of the stove-top on high with two off and placing your hands wildly and randomly in different areas, y’know? Rondo is an amazing player despite how critical I am of his regular season discipline, maturity, shooting and all of that jazz. I took an old, injured Boston Celtics team to a corrupt fourth quarter of the 2010 NBA Finals. He carried a depleted and injured team to a fourth quarter game seven in the Eastern Conference Finals against the eventual champion Miami Heat in 2012. He’s a top five player in the NBA every playoffs when he turns the motor on.
Currently the Celtics’ guards generate almost no dribble penetration, struggle to run a pick and roll/pop and have exceptionally poor passing, court vision and decision making. This forces Avery Bradley, Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace into primary shot-creating roles on the perimeter, and they are terrible at it. Look at their shooting numbers: 38%, 33% and 41% respectively. Disastrous.
It’s also putting pressure on Jared Sullinger and the Celtics’ bigs to shoot 3s, as the guards aren’t capable of generating looks for them near the basket or making basic entry passes. Right now Sully, Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani are a combined six of thirty from deep. Goddamn. Take away those shots and they’d be shooting a healthy 53%.
And a guy like Brandon Bass, who depends on guard penetration for his looks, has almost completely disappeared offensively rather than a few misguided post-ups and whatever scraps he can get off the boards.
Having Rondo will allow a horde of role players to start playing to more of their strengths. Bradley can go off-ball (he’s been the Celtics’ best spot-up shooter, just no one has created for him). Wallace and Green can fill in as secondary slashers, spot-up shooters and post-up players. Bass will be able to get his pick and pop plays. Sully can get a decent post entry pass. High efficiency guys like Kelly Olynyk can get more shows and low efficiency guys like Jordan Crawford and MarShon Brooks will play less.
Please Celtics, don’t put me through a 24 win season. I’ve been spoiled since 2007 even though I’m no stranger to watching the C’s lose big for years.