12 games into the season and the Boston Celtics are who we thought they were. This group is very entertaining, scoring 104.7 points per game, while keeping their fans on the edge of their seats with their poor defense and their addiction to turning the ball over. At 4-8, the C’s record isn’t one to write home about, but close losses to Toronto, Cleveland and Phoenix have some Celts fans thinking more of what could have been. In those three losses the Celtics lost by a combined 12 points. Add in their near historic comeback in Dallas, and the near win against Portland, and this team has a lot to look at in the glass-half-full category. 12 games in, let’s hand out some superlatives for the first month of the season.
Most likely to make the All-Star team- Jeff Green
The knocks on Green have been his lack of consistency on the offensive end and his shaky defense on the other end. Well, after 10 games Green is basically waving a big middle finger to all his critics, including the one with the big head typing out this article. His 18.4 PPG lead the team, and Green is shooting a respectable 43% from the floor. His highlight plays are breathtaking as seen in the Phoenix game, and his defense has been much better this year. The one thing Green needs to add to his resume is his ability to be the go-to scorer at the end of games. The finish to the Cavs loss would have been a perfect time for Green to get the last shot.
In a crowded Eastern Conference at the forward position, it’s unlikely Green will make the All-Star team, but if he continues averaging nearly 20 points per game, while constantly showing up on Sports Center with Dr. J type throw downs, Green will have to be in the conversation. The C’s record will be a huge factor in Green getting any All-Star love.
On a side note, it was great to hear Green express his love for the team and the city after the loss against Portland. It is rare to see players fall in love with a city, while losing.
Most likely to leave you scratching your head- Evan Turner
It is a shame, because Turner was big in the Celts win in Chicago, but just the eye test alone shows you how the team struggles when Turner is at the point, which, in Turner’s defense, is not his natural position. But Turner’s offensive game is shakier than a person with alcoholic withdrawals sitting on a massage chair. His jump shot is arguably the ugliest shot seen in Boston since Marty Conlon left town. Turner’s numbers aren’t bad (8.0 PPG, 3.4 APG and 3.8 RPG) But his 2 turnovers per game, and 18% from beyond the arc need to improve ASAP. With the return of Marcus Smart, possibly Friday against Chicago, you have to think Turner’s minutes may be dwindling quickly.
Most likely to be traded – Brandon Bass
Bass seems to be forgotten on this team. The veteran has a lot of value this season, with his contract (Bass is owed 6.5 million in the last year of his contract) and he has had a quiet, but productive season so far. His 18.5 minutes per game are his lowest since coming to Boston during the KG era. But Bass, unlike a lot of other veterans, hasn’t complained once. At the same time, Bass is shooting 89% from the free throw line while averaging 8.3 PPG 3.4 RPG. If you look at his stats per 36 minutes, (Bass averaged 27.6 minutes the last two seasons), he is averaging 16.2 PPG and 6.2 RPG. This is a sign that when Bass is on the court, he is giving the Celts positive contributions.
Bass should be starting for this team over Kelly Olynyk. His lack of complaining shows how much of a professional he really is. He clearly wants to start, but will do anything necessary to help the team win.
Most likely to return with open arms- Marcus Smart
His injury in the game against Indiana had all the basketball fans in the area holding their breath. Would the rookie miss a large chunk of the season due to an injury, basically hurting any chance of real improvement? Luckily, Smart should be back next week, and he will provide the team with a much needed defensive spark. Although the Celtics are giving up a nearly identical number of points per game with or without Smart, the rookie, before his injury, was improving game by game. Smart’s return will be welcomed, especially with the recent struggles of Avery Bradley.
Most likely to have you screaming at your TV- The Jared Sullinger 3-pointer
Sullinger is an old school, grind it out player who should be down in the paint doing his dirty work, not chucking up three’s at the pace of a guy who canactually shoot. Sully is shooting 27% from beyond the arc, and it needs to stop RIGHT NOW.
Most likely to be missed if traded- Rajon Rondo
Ok, Rondo will never be a #1 scorer, we get it. He is a very,very, very good pass first point guard, who is flourishing in Brad Stevens’ offense. Rondo is averaging 10.1 PPG and 10.7 APG, and is proving how valuable he is each game. Rondo’s value around the league is questionable, but he means more to this team than he does to anyone else around the league. If Rondo could re-sign next summer to an extension of something like 6 years in the 100-115 range I would definitely think about it, especially with the rumored cap going up.