This is going to sound a little like a John Lennon song, but can you imagine if everyone with injury issues on this team comes back full speed and playing to their potential? For now lets assume the team doesn't make another big move and perhaps only brings in a scrub veteran backup point guard, how good can they be?
Starting at the top, Pierce and Ray Allen both seem like they should be back to normal for the start of camp. Then again, you could have said the same thing last year, so there’s no guarantee. But if they are on the court for 78+ games, it wouldn't take much else to get this team into the playoffs.
Al Jefferson has had his share of ankle issues, but seemed to finally put those behind him last year, which was great until he needed an Appendectomy. The last half of the year showed us what he could be. Think of what he can do over the course of a whole season.
Those three guys alone have me pretty optimistic about the season. Each fought off injury or illness last year, but each should be healthy this year. How about the support players?
Kendrick Perkins is a warrior. He probably rushed back a little too quickly from a separated shoulder and then played pretty much the whole season with plantar fasciitis. I’ve always been a sucker for Perk, and maybe he’ll never be 100% again. But if he can stay on the court and at least feel unrestrained in his mobility, I still think he can be our rock in the middle.
Speaking of the middle, it is very easy to forget that Theo Ratliff is a human being aside from his expiring contract. In fact, once upon a time he was a Defensive Player of the year and was good enough to get himself a fat, long-term contract. I’m not even going to consider him being "full speed." I’m not even going to count on him for anything. But if we are dreaming here, what if he did come in and give us 15 minutes a night at the center spot? Just watching him work on the court might be enough to teach Perk and Jefferson some old-dog tricks.
Tony Allen might be the biggest wildcard in the bunch. If he can play like he did for that one stretch last year, he’s a difference maker. He could give the team the sorely needed elements of wing defense and slashing scoring. It took him quite a while to fully come back from his first major injury. It might take him another whole season to "get right." After watching him go down last year, part of me wrote him off completely. But you never know. He might just surprise us all.
I think Scalabrine missed some time for, ...umm, I forget, but I remember not caring because it seemed silly for the team to play a veteran role player in a meaningless season. This year, if he comes in off the bench and doesn’t feel like he’s the best shooter on the floor, then maybe he can be that glue-guy off the bench that Danny envisioned from the start.
For the rest of the team I don’t recall too many other issues aside from bumps, bruises, and a few days off here and there. Still, the law of averages seems to indicate that someone is going to have some issues sometime this season. Personally I hope it is someone from the bench instead of one of the starters. I mean, we can’t lose our whole starting lineup like we did last year, could we? I’m digging myself deep into a jinx whole, so I’m going to back away slowly and pretend that didn’t happen.
So let’s get Perkins to shed some pounds so he’s lighter on his feet. Let’s sign Tony Allen up for some Pavlovian training so that when he hears a whistle, he stops what he’s doing and hands the ball to the ref. Let’s keep Theo away from stiff breezes. Let’s keep Big Baby away from Dunkin Donuts (ok, that’s a cheap shot, I’m sorry). Let’s keep Telfair’s girlfriend and her gun collection away from the Gah-en (oh wait, that’s another article for another day).
To me, this team really does look like a very good team on paper. In theory, if everyone was healthy and played up to their potential, we’d be a playoff team no doubt, and who knows how far they could go from there. I guess the problem is that big "if" at the start of that sentence. Something is bound to go wrong next year, but what if it doesn’t? How good do you think the team could be as it stands now?