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Scouting the Scouts

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Simultaneously the best and worst parts of NBA preview issues is this trend to get scouts to anonymously give opinions on each of the teams.  They are insightful and they are petty, usually at the same time.  The anonymity allows for freedom of saying what writers might be too afraid to.  It also allows for cheap shots (perhaps to get back at organizations that didn’t give them a job).  So it makes for entertaining reading, but as with anything, my advice is to take with a grain of salt.

So of course I couldn’t help but take a chance to look at what the scouts had to say about the Celtics.  Below are the blurbs from the SI and ESPN previews (along with my reactions).

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Sports Illustrated – Enemy Lines

As much as everyone wants to award everything to the Celtics after their big summer, I have some doubts.  Is Ray Allen healthy enough to play 82 games?  You could ask the same thing about Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce.  The point guard situation raises more questions.  Then there are the big men:  They’ll have to put Garnett at center sometimes because Scot Pollard can’t back up Kendrick Perkins there…

First point is as valid as it is obvious.  They haven’t won anything yet and nothing in life is a guarantee.  With that said, this is preview season, so the best anyone can do is give their best guess.  So it isn’t all that shocking to see people latching on to a bandwagon that includes 3 of the game’s best players, now is it?

As for the second point, you can play the injury card on any team in the league.  I could swap out the words Celtics for Spurs and Parker, Duncan, Ginobili for our big three and that sentence reads just as true.

I wish the scout had elaborated on the point guard questions, but I’m sure they’d revolve around Rondo’s shooting, inexperience, and lack of a backup.  I can’t say that I can argue with any of those concerns.  Time will tell.

I don’t think anyone is counting on much from Pollard, which is why I still hope that the team finds a serviceable big man soon.  The lack of activity in free agency has me wondering if the team might be looking into a 2 for 1 type of trade sometime this season.  Again, time will tell.

The trade for Garnett changed the whole outlook of the franchise.  He’s a player who can carry a team, and he’ll be more the glue than Pierce ever was and Allen ever will be.  If something happens to Garnett, then they’ll be the same as they were last year, because Pierce and Allen can’t get it done alone…
I have grown accustomed to the swipes at Paul’s character over the years.  A lot of it he brought on himself.   Some of it is just lazy journalism.  Lumping Ray Allen in with Paul here is a real head scratcher.  Ray has been a team guy and solid citizen everywhere he’s been.    
James Posey has close to a 7-footer’s wingspan, and that length is bothersome.  They’ll be counting on him a lot as a defender…
I didn’t realize that about his wingspan.  That certainly helps doesn’t it?  Am I the only one who is actually optimistic about the team’s chances of being a good defensive squad top to bottom?  I know Pierce and Allen have a reputation for being weak defenders, but if the system works and the bigs can bail them out, there’s room for this to work.  Hey, maybe that’s the kool aid talking, but I’ve also been impressed by the preseason efforts.
It’s obvious that Doc Rivers watches a lot of games.  You might see somebody run something one night and then Rivers will be running it a few nights later.

This is a great little tid bit.  For all the swipes we all take at Doc not being an X’s and O’s type of guy, there are things like this that come up and make you take pause.  There’s also that cute little stat about the Celtics getting the most points out of timeouts in the league last year. 

Clearly the guy knows a lot about the game and can draw up a play.  I guess my biggest worry is how quickly he can react to what the other team throws at him.  His adjustments have always seemed slow, and I don’t think you can blame the youth for that every time.

ESPN The Mag- Scout’s Take

It’s premature to say they’re a top team.  Chemistry and depth breed success, and Boston has neither yet.
True.  Chemistry and depth take time and the Celtics don’t have the luxury of years of experience playing together.  With that said, 82 games is a long time.  It didn’t take Shaq and Wade that long playing together to make it all work.  As far as depth is concerned, that will be a work in progress.  There’s still a chance that a small move could be made before the deadline to add a layer of protection.
No matter what they say, making three stars work can be tricky.  They might have been better off adding Garnett and using the money they gave to Allen to put solid pieces around KG and Pierce. Plus, the go-to trio are in their 30’s, so who says they’ll all make it to June?
This is just flat out revisionist history.  The Celtics don’t get Garnett without Ray Allen being in place already.  That’s been covered pretty extensively.  Besides, worst case is that one of the stars doesn’t work out and you trade him for those pieces this guy is talking about.  But isn’t it better to take a shot with a full house first?
Even if they stay healthy, someone else will have to do some heavy lifting – and neither Perkins nor Rondo is ready.  It’s asking a lot of an inexperienced, no-touch point guard to direct a team to a title.

There’s the dig on Rondo I was waiting for.  And Perkins is an easy target too.  I’m not saying they are perfect players, but the only real crime those two have committed is simply NOT being as good as the big three.  And if they were, there would be issues about having 5 stars on one team.  It’s always something.

So there you have it.  A green eyed optimist’s reaction to the snarky scouts reviews.  You have to think that there is some truth in the middle somewhere.  As they say, that’s why they play the games.

Anyone else officially done with preview season and ready to get to the real one?