When the Celtics acquired Shelden Williams this past offseason most people thought he was acquired just to fill a roster spot. Not many people, myself included, believed he had any type of role on this team. We expected him to come in and be “one of those guys” who goes to practice, works hard, then warms the bench come game time.
Celtics fans quickly became acquainted with Shelden through his Twitter account and gave him a warm welcome to Boston. In one of his first replies to me he said, “Boston is like no other when it comes to sports”. After all the only other cities he had played in were Sacramento and Atlanta. He was not really use to having die-hard fans that treat their team’s players as if they were family.
After the warm welcome Shelden got to work in an attempt to improve his game. Williams was on a mission to prove all of his critics wrong, and prove that he is not a bust after being the 5th pick in the 2006 NBA Draft. He knew he was going to have to work hard because there were multiple big men battling for the three or four roster spots in Doc’s ten man rotation.
Shelden was in competition with the likes of Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis, Brian Scalabrine, and Michael Sweetney. Anybody who knows the game of basketball should realize that competing for a roster spot with these guys would be very difficult; however, Shelden didn’t give up, he kept working hard and improving his game to fit in with what the Celtics and Coach Doc Rivers were trying to accomplish.
The preseason started and it still didn’t look very promising for Shelden, he was logging under 10 minutes a game and not getting his opportunity to shine. As was expected he lost the battle for playing time with Glen Davis and as of October 27th it looked as though he would just be another benchwarmer.
At 4am on October 27th something went in the wrong direction for Celtics foward Glen Davis, and in the right direction for Shelden Williams. Early that morning Glen Davis was involved in an altercation that resulted in a right thumb injury that sidelined him for nearly over two months. Although you never want to see a teammate injured this opened up a spot in the rotation for Shelden to log some quality minutes and prove his worth.
The regular season started and Shelden came into games with a role similar to that of Glen “Big Baby” Davis’. He logged minutes during important moments of games and even put in 23 minutes in a November 3rd game against the 76ers. At this point in time it was starting to seem like Shelden was going to have a important role on this team. At the same time he was also proving his worth in the league and improving his value for the future.
During the first 27 games of the season, before Glen Davis’ return on Christmas day, Shelden saw playing time in 24 of those games. Since Glen’s return to the lineup the Celtics have played 28 games, Shelden has seen limited playing time in 11 of those games.
It was presumed that Shelden’s minutes would decrease when Davis returned to the team, but it was not clear that they would decrease this dramatically. The difference really stuck out to me this past month, since January 14th, after seeing Shelden play a total of four minutes during garbage time in the last 18 games.
All of this leads me to my question to Doc of why he is refusing to give Shelden the opportunity to continue to prove himself. Before I continue let me also remind you that Doc refused to play Shelden even when the team was battling the injuries of Kevin Garnett, Brian Scalabrine, and even Rasheed Wallace for a game or two.
Speaking of Rasheed, could Shelden possibly do any worse than what Sheed has done as of late? My answer is no, and to be honest I’d much rather see Shelden out their giving it a 100% over Sheed going out there and giving it a half-a**ed effort.
So next time you see Sheed out there jacking up careless three’s make sure to look over at the bench to see a hard working Shelden Williams sitting there waiting for his turn.
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