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Pointed in the Right Direction?

delonte.jpgThe concept of Delonte West as either the starting two-guard or a combo guard off the bench has been shelved, at least temporarily, as the Celtics’ season chugs along towards its final destination in Secaucus. Back in November, draft-day acquisition Sebastian Telfair was the starter with multi-talented rookie Rajon Rondo in the rear view mirror. It did not take Doc Rivers long to conclude the same thing that Nate McMillan did in Portland last season: Telfair is not ready to be the man at the point. And of late, it appears he’s not even ready to be the back-up.

West is the reasonably steady option at the point, and for a coach who does not have an abundance of steadiness on a youthful roster this is a no-brainer. That West does not possess some of the qualities one might wish for in a point guard â€" doesn’t penetrate and dish well, doesn’t involve others naturally, average at best court vision â€" is counterbalanced by his toughness and sweet stroke. But does this qualify him to be the starting point guard for the future of this franchise? Without being able to peer into the minds of Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers (assuming both are around for the long haul), one can only speculate.

In a perfect world, Rondo would emerge as a quicker version of Dennis Johnson, a top notch defensive guard who could penetrate and hit the open shot in pressure situations. Telfair would develop into a latter day Tiny Archibald, using his speed to get to the rim at will. West could then be used as a scorer and energy guy off the bench, and nobody would care about his deficiencies as a point guard. He’d be adored by the faithful in a way Brian Scalabrine never will. Tommy Heinsohn would be rhapsodizing about his love for Delonte.

This begs the question of why in this lost season Rivers does not turn the point duties over to Rondo and Telfair and, as he so likes to say, see who they are. We pretty much know who West is, and who he is not. In comparison, we should take a tour around the East and see who is playing this important position for the competition. It is revealing as to why the Celtics are (and will continue to) struggle in their conference.

Team-Player-Comment

Nets - Jason Kidd - still among the best
Nets - Marcus Williams - should have been drafted by Ainge
Knicks - Stephon Marbury - only thing West does better is shoot free throws
Raptors - TJ Ford - road runner who makes things happen
Raptors - Jose Calderon - would be a starter in Boston
Sixers - Andre Miller - made team better after coming over in AI trade
Pistons - Chauncey Billups - finals mvp and free agent to be (come back!)
Bulls - Kirk Hinrich - good enough to make the US National team
Bulls - Chris Duhon - solid back-up
Pacers - Jamaal Tinsley - personality “issues” but can play
Cavaliers - Eric Snow - solid defender, LeBron runs show when necessary
Cavaliers - Daniel Gibson - rookie was starting until injured
Bucks - Maurice Williams - reason they traded TJ â€" he’s really good
Heat - Jason Williams - started on championship squad, Wade takes over at times
Magic - Jameer Nelson - West’s college teammate and the true pg
Bobcats - Raymond Felton - has got all the tools in his 2nd year
Bobcats - Brevin Knight - would have made a big difference for the C’s
Wizards - Gilbert Arenas - All-Star
Wizards - Antonio Daniels - I was hoping the C’s would have signed him from Seattle
Hawks - Tyronne Lue - He’s short

It would not be a stretch to conclude that every team in the East, with the exception of Atlanta, is better staffed at the point than the Celtics. Still the Hawks traded a pick to Dallas for Anthony Johnson, thus giving them a solid veteran. And fans wonder why Boston has gone nowhere since the last year Kenny Anderson was the man.

Now I’m not bonkers enough to suggest the Celtics address this situation in the draft. They may already have their guy between Rondo and Telfair, but at this juncture it makes absolutely no sense to let West take the bulk of the minutes, leaving the scraps for them.

Let’s assume either Rondo or Telfair plays himself out of Boston (if Bassy hasn’t already done so). Doesn’t it make sense to bring in at least a veteran back-up? Among the free agents to be are: Steve Blake, Darrick Martin and Chucky Atkins.

It makes the most sense, however, to upgrade the starting point guard position, either by the fast-track development of one of the young guards or a trade. Unless Danny Ainge is somehow able to accomplish that, the Celtics are destined for continued mediocrity. Somebody has to be capable of taking care of the ball and getting it to Pierce, Jefferson, Green and (hopefully) Oden.