A few weeks ago, the Celtics signed a guy that made me say "umm, who?" Sure, I've heard the name Von Wafer and I had some recollection of him doing well for the Rockets at one point, but beyond that I was seriously scratching my head.
It wasn't until I read the online articles about him that I discovered that he was kicked out of a playoff game (which he is very contrite and apologetic about by the way). I also learned that he tried to cash in overseas but was waived after only a few months and has swung and missed on various workouts for NBA teams.
So why are we signing him again?
Researching further I learned that he was absolutely on fire for about a month or so when he replaced an injured Tracy McGrady in 2009. I also was reminded that he was that guy that hit a game winning 3 pointer against the Celtics. To which my inner dialog said "ooooh, that guy."
I think this blurb from Dime sums it up nicely.
There were moments in that season in which Wafer looked like a dominant spark plug off of the bench. And if you’ve watched his game, he has had the type of career where people have been talking about his potential rather than his production.
So I'm still not sure what to make of this guy. He's got talent and potential but a very short resume and serious question marks (and I haven't even talked about his defense yet).
I'm officially setting my expectations at "Marquis Daniels 2009-10" - which is to say "not very high." I expect that he'll get a fair shake, he'll have his moments, but I wouldn't be too surprised to see him on the end of the bench and perhaps replaced sometime around mid season (via a trade or a late-season free agent that just got cut for cap purposes).
Don't get me wrong, I'm hoping to be wrong. This is a classic all upside, little to lose signing by Ainge. At best he could be a more athletic Eddie House. He could be a nice offensive platoon with Avery Bradley playing the defensive sub. The potential is there so at the vet minimum he's totally worth giving a shot. If nothing else, you can probably bank on him having the occasional "did he just do that?" moments.
CelticsHub puts it nicely when they say "You know what would be cool, if Von Wafer played like it was 2009"
In 2009, Von Wafer averaged 10 points a game on 45% shooting from the field and 39% from deep (Hoopdata.com). Let’s juxtapose these stats with the Celtics main offensive punch off the bench last season: Nate Robinson. In 26 games with Boston, Robinson averaged 7 points on 41% from deep and 40% shooting overall (Hoopdata.com).
Finally, I wanted to get a Houston Rockets fan's opinion of the guy, so I hit up Tom from The Dream Shake. Here's what he had to say. (after the break)
Forget the playoff game - that was a one-time deal. You can tell by his twitter reaction to the Boston signing that he knows he can't afford to run his mouth to the coach again.
As for Von's game, I haven't seen him play in quite some time, so he may have improved on a few areas of his game since his stint in Houston. I think that people invested too much into Wafer's talent simply because he came out of NOWHERE and ran off a streak of miracle performances (you'll surely remember one of them) in the absence of Tracy McGrady. Oh, he's very good at certain things: dunking, outside shooting and pumping up the crowd (he was our Nate during his glory run his first few weeks on the job, crowd loved him). But he can't do anything more than fill the role of Instant Offense Off The Bench.
Wafer played a much more pivotal role in Houston's offense than he will in Boston's. He's a slasher who can drive if there's space, but he's not too keen with his dribble to be able to cross anyone over and create for himself. As his role increased in Houston, he began taking long two-point jumpers to counteract defenders jumping the pick and roll and banking on him shooting threes, something I don't think he will need to do with the Celtics. He's an above average three-point shooter, so while he is streaky, it's not one of those Rafer Alston one-game-per-week shooting streaks. His shot is his primary calling card.
I've actually got to run, but to add, he's not a great defender (never seemed to have the drive nor any reasonable form or technique), and my biggest pet peeve with him was that he hardly ever boxed out his defender, which led to a few extra rebounds by 6'5 guards on occasion. Then again, a nice dunk or two on the other end would normally get the mental lapses out of my mind, so in the end, I enjoyed Wafer's time in Houston and think that he should fit nicely into the role that I envision the Celtics will be giving him: instant offense, and not much else.