Roughly a year ago, Dave from Blazers Edge posted The Ten Commandments of Preseason. I loved it then and I still love it today. So as a primer for the kickoff of the season that doesn’t matter, here they are again (with my notes after each one).
THOU SHALT NOT believe anything you read in glowing reports about returning players until thou hast seen it demonstrated with thine own eyes during the regular season...repeatedly. Everybody is talented in the off-season.
I’ve waxed poetic about our new big three so many times the cliché police have a warrant out for my arrest. Every media outlet is gushing over the Celtics with hyperbole in hyperdrive. When we see it with our own eyes, then we’ll know it is true.
Readeth more after the jump.
THOU SHALT NOT put any stock whatsoever in any team's pre-season record or what it might indicate.
We all want to see the team get off on the right foot in Rome and London. We all want to see the big boys wipe the floor with the Timberpups and prove that that the future is now. Just remember that veterans can take time to warm up and rookies and free agents need to see some time in camp games.
THOU SHALT NOT clamor for a player who gets 22 minutes a game in pre-season (for purposes of evaluation and giving the veterans a rest) to get that same 22 minutes once the regular season starts.
Ladies and gentlepeople, I give you Brandon Wallace, Jackie Manuel, Estiban Batista, and Dahntay Jones! They will all get a long look. If they make the team, they might even contribute someday. Don’t count on that being opening day.
THOU SHALT NOT pass judgment on the current year's draft picks until at least an entire season has passed, preferably two or three. Pre-season is too soon!
Gabe Pruitt and Glen Davis both have the potential to be better than all of the players mentioned in the last commandment. However, they also might need a little longer to blossom. Be patient.
THOU SHALT NOT judge veterans by whether they show up for unofficial pre-training camp workouts with their teammates. This does not guarantee team cohesiveness or better play. The classic example is the 1996 Indiana Pacers who, after going 52-30, winning their division, and losing the Eastern Conference finals in 7 the year before, showed up to a man a month early to train together. That year they played inconsistently, finished with the exact same record, and bowed out in the first round. Rookies and young guys need to work early. If vets want to rest their bodies, let them.
I’ll admit I am impressed by the fact that Pierce, KG, and Ray Allen are all in camp early. I’m happy that it sounds like most of the team has joined them. However, the commandment is solid. Don’t assume that spending time together means they’ll be finishing each other’s sentences and tossing no look alley oops from the opening tip.
THOU SHALT NOT believe that a guy who comes into camp out of shape can play his way into shape during the season. That used to be true but the pace and intensity of the game has changed. Only two things happen to guys who come in out of shape nowadays: either they get benched and don't play a lot or they do play a lot and get injured.
We’ve heard that Perkins had lost 20 pounds (to ease the weight on his plantar fasciitis) and that Big Baby Davis was aggressively shedding his baby fat to gear up for the grown up league.
On the other hand, James Posey has been criticized by Pat Riley in the past for coming in with too much body fat. Was that a case of Riley playing drill sergeant overlord or a legit concern for Posey? Time will tell.
I’ll mention here too that we’ll have to keep a close eye on guys that were injured last year. Ray Allen’s ankles may be perfect now, but how about when he’s running sprints. Scot Pollard’s back may have passed the team physical, but when he hits the floor for a loose ball will he be able to get back up?
THOU SHALT NOT give too much credence to stories of personal reform. Guys who have truly reformed don't tell everybody about it beforehand and expect immediate credit for it, they hush up and let their actions speak for them.
Remember when we were hoping that Vin Baker had finally turned a corner? Remember when we crossed our fingers thinking that Mark Blount really just needed some time to adjust? Remember when we thought "maybe it really was Sebastian’s girlfriend’s gun?" I love not having someone like that on the team this year.
IF THOU HAST SPENT the entire offseason convincing everybody in earshot why thy previously putrid team hast improved, thou shalt not abandon said position in disillusioned cynicism when they getteth off to a 3-10 start. And thou certainly shalt not then regale us with stories of how they really suckest! It's early in the season, improvement is incremental, Rome wasn't built in a day. If thou expectest more than that, it is thy problem, not the team's.
No team has improved more than the Celtics on paper this year. No team comes in with more hype. How many will jump ship if the team starts out 3-10? Remember when Allen Iverson joined Carmelo Anthony and they lost more games than they won? It happens sometimes when stars collide. The really good ones work things out and eventually hit their stride. I don’t think this team will need that long, but try to keep the 20 game rule in mind. (More on that another day)
There are some critics and cynics out there predicting doom (or at least falling short of a Championship). Step up and make your voice be known now. Then let that be the end of it. If you promise not to rub our noses in it later, we’ll promise to let you on the bandwagon if you are wrong. Deal?
Similarly, IF THOU HAST SPENT the entire offseason predicting that thy team will stink, thou shalt not gloat, nor even be happy, shouldst thou turn out to be correct. Realistic analysis is fine, but be a fan first, a smug smarty-pants second.
THOU SHALT NOT brag that your pre-season predictions are holding true in Week Two. Period!
One word: Playoffs. That’s the real test. What they do in the regular season is prelude to the playoffs. Preseason is just the warmup act, but it is fun.
As always, I can’t wait to get things started so we can break all these rules one by one. I'm just too giddy about this season to be quite this rational. Enjoy!