Green Thoughts

Chronicling the Boston Celtics quest for banner number 17... and beyond.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Less "Upside." More Results.

I’m afraid I can’t join in the high fives going around the major media and the blogosphere over the Celtics draft yesterday. Here’s how I see it.

Sebastian Telfair is probably an upgrade over Dan Dickau, but is that really saying anything? Telfair was the third string point guard on one of the worst teams in the NBA. Dickau was injured all of last season, so we never really got to see what he could do. And, amidst all the happy horsecrap coming out of Causeway Street, it’s worth remembering that last year, Dickau was supposed to be the steal of the offseason.

We didn’t really get out from under Raef LaFrentz's deal, although two years of an onerous contract is certainly preferably to THREE (particularly when you’ve already eaten three). Ratliff could provide sorely needed help on defense, but it’s all contingent on him being HEALTHY, which has been a problem, and seems likely to be in the future, given the fact he’s been in the league for 11 years.

Rajon Rondo. This is the real head scratcher. Marcus Williams was good for almost 9 assists a game at UConn. Rondo? Barely 5, and he can’t shoot. People talk about the laptop thing, but do we need a boy scout or a point guard. And the kid sure didn’t look fat on that stage last night. With the Grant deal, we’ll essentially be paying $2M plus this year for the services of Rondo, who might well have dropped to the second round.

At the end of the day, the team is probably a bit better, but nowhere near what it could have been with Randy Foye and Williams. The draft was textbook Ainge and a classic example of why he’s been able to look so good, while his teams perform so poorly. Ainge, like most fans, is intoxicated by the whiff of potential. That’s why the team now sports four players under the age of 21 who have never played a minute of college basketball. Unfortunately, while Jefferson, Perkins, Telfair, and Green all look great and have flashes, none of them have a history of consistent performance against high level competition. In fact, the only Celtics youngsters who do – West and Gomes – are also the ones who have been most successful and had the greatest impact. And so, for three years now, the Celtics have delivered lousy results.

Ultimately, this draft is so troubling because it demonstrates Danny’s utter inability to recognize his mistakes and learn from them. The best example of this is his line that if Telfair had gone to Louisville for two years, he’d be the top point guard in this draft. It demonstrates Ainge’s inability to grasp a crucial bit of reality: Telfair DIDN’T go to Louisville. It’s impossible to say how he’d have performed or where he’d be in the draft.

Maybe I’m being negative. Maybe I’m being overcritical. After three years (and counting) of underperforming teams, though, I don’t think the Celts “brain trust” has earned the benefit of the doubt. My prediction: Iverson or no, the Celtics underperform, Doc’s gone by the All-Star break, and Danny takes the reins. By this time next year, the team’s looking for a new coach (LB!) and GM.


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