(Editor's note: Old pal Bent from across the pond has been good enough to send over a handful of articles. It's been too long since we've had our favorite Celtics fan from the UK on the blog, I'm excited to have him back. This is the first of three over the next couple of days. Enjoy. -G17)
So, the Marquis Daniels saga rolls on, or doesn't roll on, depending on your perspective.
I don't think this is what they meant when they said, "Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don't make." Danny has spent months not making this deal since it was agreed upon. You've got to admire the patience of all concerned though. Well, apart from us bloodthirsty Celtics fans who can't wait to analyze, re-analyze, over-analyze and re-over-analyze every aspect of the deal once finalized, despite the fact every possible angle has already been over-re-analyzed to the point of saturation.
With that in mind, here's my take on the whole "Can the Celtics get by with Daniels as one of their primary back-up point guard options?" debate.
Wishing to get the inside scoop, I consulted a friend of mine who is an Indiana fan and has seen virtually every Pacers game since the Reggie Miller era. He described Daniels as a "trainwreck at point". Perhaps I should stop there.
I can't stop there though. Danny Ainge's apparent unwillingness to peruse the point guard market, even for a Chris Corchiani type, makes it almost inevitable that Daniels will be called on to take over the primary ball handling duties at some point, even if only in emergency or spot duty. Unless he believes Daniels' incomparable collection of tattoos comprise some sort of coded blueprint to help the Celtics break out of the Eastern Conference Playoffs or something, you have to believe that his versatility was one of the key factors in making him a target.
If we look deeper at the time Daniels spent in Indiana, it should be noted that Daniels is one of Larry's "groceries", so he has that going for him. It's not his fault that Larry doesn't get to cook his own and I'm pretty sure if Daniels had a label (other than his body ink), it would probably say "Once opened, store in a cool fan-assisted environment - May go bad if stored with bad apples".
If that's not a good enough excuse, there's one other key factor at play. Obie. When Jim O'Brien first took over in Boston, he lucked into a situation where Kenny Anderson already knew what he was doing. Once Anderson left, the point guard play in Boston was nothing short of atrocious. Tony Delk shot well, but he was the best of a bad, bad bunch. Mike James was so bad that some of us got excited about J R Bremer. The most telling sign was when Chucky Atkins was traded here and proved to be a huge upgrade!
Instead of addressing the problem, O'Brien's solution was to work around it, by taking the read-and-react type responsibilities away from the point guard. It killed any semblance of a fast-break the Celtics may have had and the inability to deliver the ball to Pierce and Walker in ideal positions made a big difference to their offensive effectiveness and the ultimate ceiling of that team.
In Indiana, not much has changed. TJ Ford and Jamaal Tinsley were more likely to drive one-on-five than read the defense and create a shot for a teammate. Needless to say, having a point guard named "Jack" on an Obie team was a match made in heaven. When Daniels got a chance to play the point, he was doing little more than bringing the ball up. With Tinsley out, he started a game at point in 2007 and shot 1-for-9, of course. My point is that we can't read too much into his time in Indiana, because Jim O'Brien doesn't require his point guards to play like point guards.
However, it isn't his play at Indiana that gives Daniels his reputation as a possible point guard option anyway. Daniels has somehow managed to hang on to this reputation since his rookie season.
As everybody knows, Daniels played some point guard with Dallas as a rookie, starting some games in place of Steve Nash and putting up decent numbers. Dallas were the best offensive team in the league that year, so it was a good situation to be walking into.
After losing Steve Nash, the Mavs returned to a more balanced style. Their assists per game dropped from 24 in 2004 to less than 20 in 2005 (26th in the NBA) and just 18 in 2006 (29th in the NBA), yet they remained in the top ten in scoring, winning 58 games in 2005 and reaching the finals in 2006. The post-Nash team would be perhaps more comparable to the situation in Boston, but we cannot gauge his level of play as a point guard on that team, because Dallas had Devin Harris, Jason Terry and Darrell Armstrong so he was rarely, if ever, called upon to man the point.
Assists might not be the most important measuring stick here though. How about turnovers? The Celtics were third in the league in turnovers last year, but still weren't far off winning another title. Slightly better ball security could significantly upgrade the team's chances. While it might not fly in the postseason, the 2008 team showed that the Celtics have enough weapons that as long as the ball makes it safely past the leprechaun most of the time, you should be able to beat most teams.
Consensus opinion seems to be that Daniels will occasionally be paired with Eddie House, which makes sense. If the 2008 Celtics were able to get by with the two Allens bringing the ball up from time to time, then Daniels should improve the options here. If he doesn't both Allens are still on the roster, so even the worst-case scenario isn't any worse than it was two years ago.
In fact, judging by the Celtics success over these last two seasons, all he needs to do to fit in is turn the ball over a lot and be extremely inconsistent, a role he may actually be perfectly suited for.
If not, he's still a pretty decent swingman. Let's not forget that fact.