Danny Ainge has been busy this offseason. He’s re-signed Kevin Garnett, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling and Brandon Bass. Ainge traded for Courtney Lee, signed Jason Terry and Jason Collins, and drafted Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph.
The culmination of these transactions have allowed the Celtics to remain contenders for this up coming season, but was this enough? Boston’s biggest weakness last year was in the interior. While Garnett gave a valiant effort late in the season at the center position, and Bass was productive playing as an undersized power forward, teams consistently exploited the lack of size once Garnett exited the game.
The Celtics have in no doubt replenished their bench with athleticism, youth, and shooting, but the same problem remains. Where is the beef? Can you rely on Jason Collins during the playoffs? His career averages of 3.8 points per game and 3.9 rebounds per game say no.
Sullinger is a promising selection, and many Celtics’ fans have high hopes for the former Ohio State Buckeye. He’s still a rookie though and not many rookies come in ready to make significant contribution, particularly for a championship contender.
The other Celtics’ rookie taken in the first round, Melo, is no where close to being able to play NBA minutes. At seven feet, the hope would be he could at least provide rebounding, but at Syracuse the Brazilian only averaged 5.8 rpg. For comparisons sake, Sullinger at 6-foot-9 averaged 9.2 rpg.
With Garnett likely to move back to the four spot to begin the season, Wilcox would seem to inherit the center position by default. He was fairly efficient in the limited minutes he played last year, as Rondo found him to be a good running partner in transition. His season was cut short though due to heart surgery, and it remains to be seen how he comes back from that.
Jeff Green remains a wild card. His size and versatility allow him to play some minutes at power forward, but against the more physically imposing teams, that would cause a mis-match for the Celtics defensively.
The Celtics will have to utilize a center by committee this year, which has been the case since trading away Kendrick Perkins. The Philadelphia 76ers added Andrew Bynum which will make those Atlantic Division contests more challenging. The Lakers acquired Dwight Howard, and remain formidable in the post with Pau Gasol still there. Playoff match-ups against these two teams would present serious challenges for Doc Rivers’ squad in the paint.
For the Celtics to win a championship this year, Ainge may need to get creative during the season. Trading for a center capable of anchoring the post will relieve some of the pressure from Garnett, and give Boston another body to battle down low. As a Celtics fan, it’s hard to witness the Celtics being out-rebounded game after game, giving the opposing team multiple scoring opportunities.
While it may not always hold true in life, bigger is better in the NBA, and the Celtics are just too small right now.