The Cs- A great training ground for rookies.
That'll probably get a lot of laughs from Cs fans, considering that a lot of rookies have come and gone over the past few seasons, with the majority of them having had very little playing time.
Many Cs fans may consider it to be a graveyard for rookies, as Doc Rivers tends to utilize rooks in game situations as little as possible, unless absolutely necessary [ such as these past weeks, owing to the incredible string of injuries ].
I look at it this way: There are a handful of teams in the NBA, the Celtics being one of them, San Antonio another, e.g., that have a] a team mentality, and b] the personnel to back it up, that is to say, a core of established stars and super stars, who the rookies get to learn from, and gain invaluable advice and experience in practice.
These are the teams that are able to bring their rookies along slowly, allowing them to go through a learning curve.
Many of the other teams, who don't have that type of leadership, are literally forced to throw their rookies into a sink or swim situation [ a majority of those teams are losing teams, with few available options ].
Of course, the draft has a lot to do with that premise, as a handful of rookies come into the NBA who are ready to become stars, literally from the beginning of their careers [ Larry Bird - Celtics ; Tim Duncan- San Antonio e.g. ] and become franchise players.
However, those are the exception to the rule. A majority of draftees require a learning curve, and it is on teams like the Celtics and San Antonio today, who have a group of established stars, who are able to take the time and bring along the rookies, [ or get rid of them, if it becomes obvious that they have no future with the team ] until such time as they're able to prove themselves in the heat of battle.
Take Semih Erden as an example. If the O'Neals hadn't been sitting with injuries, he never would have had the playing minutes that he's being given, and to the fans, it would have taken longer to see his potential for the future. However, as K.Garnett pointed out, Erden has been doing great in practice, since he's had to practice on a regular basis against guys like Shaq and Jermaine and himself, gaining experience that is paying dividends already.
We've now been able to see his potential [ once he's had his shoulder repaired, and adds some bulk, he should have a good future with the Cs, hopefully, or another team down the road ].
Another Cs example would be G. Davis- aka B.B.D. As a rookie who was drafted late, he came to the Cs in the Ray Allen trade. His minutes were very limited during his first couple of seasons, and then he had to fill in for Garnett after his injury. He was then able to show his worth, owing to the experience he had gained from the all star veterans, and has been able to become a force off the bench today.
Take into consideration as well, that teams like the Cs seldom get really high draft picks these years - when is the last time they had a no.1 pick, e.g..? and since franchise players only come along every so often, the next best thing is having that core of star veterans who are able to bring the rookies to the next level, and there is no better core of all star veterans than those on the Celtics, position for position to do just that.
Lionel Gaffen / Fotomix