Eddie House's job can be a difficult one at times.
A traditional role player in today's NBA, House fills a specific niche for the Boston Celtics, and a difficult one at that: shooting. The issues of being a one-dimensional player become apparent mainly when that player suffers through a horrendous slump regarding whatever niche he is expected to fill. In the case of House, he recently stepped out of the month of January having shot just 32.5 percent from three-point nation. Frankly, it's an unacceptable number for a guy like House, who set a Celtics single-season record for three-point field goal percentage last season (44.4 percent from the nation).
For the season, House has made 57 of his 154 three-point field goal attempts, good for 37 percent, which is a far cry from his 41.2 career percentage from distance. For a pure shooter of House's caliber, his entire season has been something of a slump, or a roller coaster ride with PLENTY of ups and downs, at the very least. The result is a love/hate relationship with many a fan, and he isn't the only Celtic procuring such a bond (See: Wallace, Rasheed).
The difficulty for House is that, because his game is so one-dimensional, when he's not knocking down shots, he's virtually useless to this team. When you look at a player like Paul Pierce, you can forgive him for not scoring 18+ points one game because he'll usually contribute in other areas, whether it be rebounds, assists, steals, or one-on-one defense against the opponent's best perimeter player. Despite House's 6'1 frame and legitimate quickness, he'll never rack up enough assists for us to overlook a poor shooting night (for his career, House boasts a 1.6 assists per game average) and he certainly won't be a force to be reckoned with on defense.
But the fact is, House has to be better, plain and simple. The Celtics have to receive that spark off the bench that House should be providing, and up until this point, with the exception of a few select games, he has not been able to deliver.
Fortunately for the Celtics, and House in particular, Marquis Daniels is set to return soon, possibly as early as Sunday. House, having been burdened by second unit ball handling duties, will be able to revert back to his strict role as pure shooter, which should, theoretically, help mold him back into the long distance threat that opposing defenses need to be conscious of.
If nothing else, Daniels' absence from the second unit has clearly demonstrated that House needs another player to get him the ball, preferably a slasher who will draw in other defenders, thus freeing up House in the corners and along the wings for open shots. Tony Allen, despite being a slasher, is not a drive-and-kick kind of guy. When Tony heads to the basket, he's trying to get to the rim. You might be surprised, with the exception of the occasional dump off down low, how rarely TA kicks the ball back out upon his penetration. So even when Allen played the role of backup point guard, his game actually clashed with House's, which certainly didn't help House rise out of his slump.
Is it a coincidence that House finished with 16 points against the Heat on Wednesday - shooting 5-9 from the field and 2-4 from three-point nation - given that Rajon Rondo, a drive-and-kick kind of guy, played significant minutes with the second unit? On top of that, House played major minutes in the fourth quarter, also alongside Rondo. Now, House might have just been having a solid night, but there's no doubt that his effectiveness was aided by Rondo's presence.
I wrote the other day about Daniels' return, and I want to add one more thing to that list. If he and House click on offense in the second and fourth quarters when the pine guys get the call, the Celtics could have much better luck maintaining leads, extending leads and erasing deficits. What if the starters head to the bench after the first quarter, with the Celtics up six, and Daniels, House and co. come in and Eddie knocks down two three-pointers. The Celtics' lead could blossom to as many as 12, or remain in the six to 10-point range, depending on what the defense is doing. The point is, that production from House becomes pivotal for the Celtics and actually affects the overall flow of the game.
If you think back to the Stephon Marbury experiment, what was the one facet of that trial run that worked above all others? His on-the-court chemistry with House. Marbury would drive, see House roam to a corner in his peripherals, and dish him the rock, which House would turn into a three-point basket. House has to have that drive-and-kick player beside him, and Daniels can be that guy.
Eddie House has to be better than he has been, and hopefully, with the return of Daniels fast approaching, he soon will be.