With the Celtics' remaining regular season schedule featuring several teams that have struggled this year and having watched 70+ games to evaluate a roster that only returned 6 players from the '07 season, I've decided to profile every Boston Celtic. I will feature one player each weekday until April 18th. Enjoy.
Player: Ray Allen
Strengths: When the Celtics ended the Houston Rockets' 22 game win streak on TNT Reggie Miller addressed the fact that people often compare his game to Allen's. Miller contented that he was better than Allen at coming off a pick, catching and shooting. However, Allen was far better at creating off the dribble. And that aspect of Allen's game probably caught Celtics fans more off guard than anything else, even more so than his competence on defense. I for one thought of him as a spot up shooter and have been presently surprised to see him come get to the rim. Long story short, 5 months ago I would have said shooting. Now I say scoring. He also is a heady, fundamental player that understands angles.
Weaknesses: Allen came out of the gates smoking hot and, as I noted above, surprised people with his ability to get to the rim. I saw this play live and believe me nobody saw it coming. Having said that Allen is at the point in his career when he has to pick his spots. And he has missed 7 games due to concerns about his ankles. Thankfully the Celtics have been a) smart enough to rest him and b) able to do so without losing games. Given his age and off-season surgery Allen was lucky to join Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett at this stage in his career. Can you imagine him mentoring Kevin Durant and attempting to carry a Seattle squad stuck in an atrocious situation? Finally his field goal percentage in games, in relation to the number of days rest leading up to them, seems to support the idea that he should not be expected to be lights out as consistently as he used to be. Those numbers:
# Days Rest Games Field Goal % FGM-A
0 14 39.5 78-197
1 36 47.9 227-473
2 10 40.7 62-152
3 2 48.4 16-33
3+ 3 50.0 21-42
Go to Move: Allen hit buzzer beaters on the road in Charlotte and Toronto early in the season. And his reputation as a three-point assassin is by no means undeserved, even with some cold spells this season. However, as those above clips show Allen is effective when he is on the move. I'd much rather see him get a shot off in transition, coming off a screen or with a hand in his face than have him standing wide open, catching and shooting an uncontested attempt.
What a Difference a Year Makes: Last year Allen led a Sonics team in scoring that finished the season with a 31-51 record. He is now ranked third in scoring for a Boston team that earned its 31st victory on January 16th. I think that sums it up.
Shining Moment This Season: The Celtics actually went on to lose this game against the Pistons and the footage is not exactly stellar. But I say forget about game winners against Charlotte and Toronto. And that video might just bring more to the moment than it takes away. More importantly that's a big shot by Allen. Cold-blooded. I know he's struggled at times this season. But the Celtics always have a chance in a close game.
If not in Boston which NBA team would make the most sense?: He would be perfect in Phoenix. Over the last few seasons the Suns have lost James Jones, Eddie House and Shawn Marion via trade or free agency. In doing so they lost some of their three-point firepower and did not replace it with new players. For example when Steve Nash, Raja Bell, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire and Shaq are on the court together one can't help but notice that Hill is not a threat from deep. Not convinced? Let me put it this way. Are Suns fans happy with Gordon Giricek playing 27 minutes as he did in Boston last Wednesday? I don't think so.
Random Point of Information: One article. Two interesting facts about Allen. He grew up in cities around Europe and he never drinks. And while we're on the topic I too have had fish and chips in England. Like anything it varies depending on where you get it. But I've had some good ones. And for quite some time I have been interested in hitting up Germany for a brew or ten. Nice work Andrew Dampf.
If he were a Nintendo character: Fox McCloud. Think about it. By carrying the Star Fox series he established himself as a franchise player. However, he never was on the level of Mario, Mega Man or some of the other big Nintendo stars. And Fox McCloud may be best remembered for his appearance in Super Smash Bros. Similarly Ray Allen was the focus of teams in Milwaukee and Seattle. And while he has been a very good player throughout his career, Allen was never on Kobe Bryant's level. Furthermore, depending how the Celtics do over the next few seasons Allen's legacy could be tied to Boston the same way McCloud's is to Super Smash Bros. Finally, Allen and McCloud both have an air of cool about them.
Contract Situation: Allen will make an average of just over $18 million over the next two seasons. He'll turn 35 in July of 2010. At that point will he be a role player? If so would he come back as a rich man's Eddie House? Imagine a scenario where KG and Pierce are still playing at a fairly high level, Allen is coming off the bench/playing in crunch time for reasonable money and "insert another All star caliber player" is brought into the fold.