Now that the Celtic roster is beginning to take shape, there are a couple of interesting training camp battles shaping up. While Kevin Garnett is sure to garner most of the attention at the power forward spot but he has some interesting company.
The Celtics stripped much of their young talent away to build a winner, but they’ve left a couple of interesting players in the pipeline. Behind KG there are a couple of story lines to watch unfold with the development of Leon Powe and Glen Davis.
More after the jump.
In terms of defensive ability, Powe is superior to Davis currently and probably will remain so due to the difference in their demeanor and current ability level. Powe uses better body position, superior footwork, and agitates his defender with body contact on multiple fronts. His length and timing are also above Davis.
Leon's such a superior worker to most players it’s easy to expect him to get to where he needs to be relatively quickly. He has plus skills as a man defender and could become an excellent help defender with steals and blocks in time. His physical style is impressive and if he can match it with an intelligent understanding of the court, he will be a valuable sub off the bench.
Powe's main battle will likely be with Brian Scalabrine for the backup front court minutes. Scalabrine has two distinct advantages: perimeter shooting and experience. Scal's superior range and knowledge of the system gives him a solid head start going into training camp. The organization has staunchly defended Scalabrine in the past, and often for good reason. Scalabrine doesn’t make errors and knows how to keep order and rhythm going on the court. He is grossly under skilled and essentially non productive statistically, so it is really the example he sets that makes him valuable.
Leon has to show that he has greatly improved his understanding of his offensive and defensive responsibilities. There is little doubt that Powe has superior skill as a power forward. His rebounding and defensive ability are both superior as well as his offensive efficiency. Doc has a history of using veterans as a benchmark for young players. Powe will have to show the staff that he's able to be as efficient as Scalabrine. The organization likes to bring in stable veterans to push the inexperienced youth and get them to value improvement.
The team is still focused on development to some extent. They won’t stop working to improve the long term future of this team. Player development should actually improve with the superior environment they’ll enjoy as a classroom. Both Powe and Davis both posses a brighter future in the league than Scalabrine if they continue to work. Powe seems to have the potential to do that first.
Davis will most likely find himself in a similar situation to the other two rookies. His offensive potential is promising but he needs to refine his body and his game before he can truly compete for minutes. He can handle the ball extremely well for a big. Davis has a potentially dangerous face up game off the dribble that needs to be developed. His shot selection and overall execution are below where they need to be, but he has the touch, balance, and coordination to refine it over time.
Most of all, Davis needs to continue to sculpt his body and become a physically fit athlete. He has strength, but isn’t at his full athletic potential. Much like Perkins, Davis would best be served by working on a steady strength and conditioning regiment while bouncing back and forth between the Celtic practice floor and the D-league.
It’s not hard to envision the 6’8" forward trimming down to a sleek 265 pounds and truly taking advantage of his unique blend of size and quickness. For now, that seems like a more long term prospect considering the magnitude of the immediate season. Expect both Powe and Davis to challenge each other in practice with their complementary skills while improving the competitive atmosphere of the team.
It should be interesting to watch their progress as the season goes on. Either could provide a surprising boost off of the bench come playoff time. Its certain that they’ll be better recognized talents by season’s end and that can only increase their value to this team in multiple ways.