It is preview season, so everywhere you look some expert is picking team names out of a hat and putting them on a board and ranking them based on who-knows-what kind of system. It all starts to sound like noise after a while and the opinions that I respect sometimes get blended in with the ones that I really don't care for. However, I do always pay attention to the annual scouting reports that SI runs that are done by actual NBA scouts of opposing teams. They aren't perfect either, but this is their job to know the ins and outs of each team. (As opposed to Marc Stein, who's job is to write articles about the league - which he does well, but it is a different goal)
So without further lead in, I'll share this link with you.
I'll give you some quotes because that's what I do, but take my advice and read the whole thing.
The scout talks a lot about Rondo. He seems to think that the offseason stuff was a distraction, but Rondo will be a professional "once the ball goes up."
At the same time, I do think he's a kid who has an ego -- that's one reason he's so good -- and he has to be hurt by the speculation because he has done a lot for the franchise. There's no doubt he's one of the premier point guards in the league. He can run a half-court offense, he can get the ball into the paint at will and he's become a much better finisher. He's a pass-first point guard who will play within his limitations when he doesn't have the ball. Defensively, he's at his best on the ball; when he's off the ball, he's a bit like Allen Iverson in that he gets a lot of deflections, but he also takes too many risks that let down his teammates because he isn't where he's supposed to be. On the ball, when he wants to be, he's a monster.
So I look at Rondo and say, 'Why wouldn't they want to sign him up to a new contract?' He's a huge building block, he knows the system, why not lock him up? But there does seem to be something that makes them hesitate, something about him they don't like. Maybe they call a play and he does his own thing too often, or maybe he doesn't listen to his teammates. But in the big picture, when that ball goes up, he's a tiger. He doesn't want to come out of the game, he does the dirty work, he pushes the ball and gets it to people. He's a very unselfish passer who doesn't have to overdribble before he makes the pass. I love the way he plays.
Now I know we've focused on Rondo a lot lately, but I think that's justified. Still, there's more to this team than our young point guard. After the break see some more quotes on non-Rondo issues.
He belongs up there in the history of the Celtics with the John Havliceks and the Tom Heinsohns. He's already one of the all-time leading scorers in the history of the franchise, and in terms of his minutes played and durability, he's been tremendous.
I expect Garnett to come back strong. He knows -- they all know it -- that this is the year. They're all getting older and who knows how the economy and the whole lockout business are going to affect the league after this year.
I know he's been undisciplined, but the Celtics will help him there. He can be a scoring machine if the Celtics can keep him within the system, which I think they'll do. Thibodeau is going to love having him. On the ball he's a good defender, though he loses his focus when he's off the ball. That's an area where he'll need to be coached. He's not a shooter but on this team they'll always have one or more shooters on the floor with him. They can play him as a second guard helping to bring the ball up against pressure alongside House, because a wing man is not going to be able to take the ball away from Daniels.
He didn't take charge last year with Detroit. They had good talent on that team, and I know the coaching was terrible, but he could've taken charge there, and when he didn't, that raised a flag for me. But...
The bottom line is that this move will work out for them because he'll want to win another ring and this is his last chance.
On who should play Center in the clutch:
If it's a tight game, will it be Rasheed on the floor in the final five minutes or will it be Perkins? I think it will be Perkins because of his defense down low.
Then there is Tony Allen, who is unreliable. He doesn't have a good basketball IQ. He'll make the steal but follow it with a stupid foul. You can't put him in comfortably to let the other guys rest. While he's in the game you're hoping he won't do something to screw it all up for you, and that kind of guy doesn't fit in with a team like this.
Rivers is an excellent offensive coach who has continued to get better. I've always been impressed with his set plays and how organized he is. Defensively, he's good. Defense is important to him, and yet he doesn't need to be viewed as the coach of the defense, which says a lot about him. He doesn't have to take a backseat to anybody.