A lot of what this team still needs depends upon how good Patrick O'Bryant really is this year. If he can't give us productive minutes backing up Perk, we're stuck with smallball and forcing KG to guard centers. If he can develop into a solid option, that shores up the 4 and 5 positions quite nicely. Is Danny ready to roll the dice on that chance? Not just yet. In his interview on WEEI today, Ainge note that if the playoffs started today he wouldn't be satisfied with the backup center position. I suppose that means that he'll wait and see what O'Bryant can offer the team. If he can't cut it, Ainge will look for either another PJ Brown type of late season pickup, or explore trade options during the season.
Nobody really knows what we are going to get out of O'Bryant. He admits himself that he had problems with work ethic. The other side of the coin, however, is that he might not have had much of a chance in Golden St.
Consider this anecdote by Bay Area blogger Tim Kawakami (hat tip to JE Skeets for pointing this out to me:
O’Bryant was done, as we all know, just a few months into his Warriors’ career, after he was selected 9th overall in the 2006 draft to suit Mike Montgomery’s system… and then MM was fired and Nelson was hired.
I recall a question I asked Nellie at his introductory news conference in August: What do you know about your new No. 1 pick, O’Bryant?
Nellie: Why do you ask?
Me: Because you don’t have a history of liking to play 7-footers.
Nellie: Oh, I like 7-footers who can shoot threes.
Me (to myself): Well, Patrick had a nice run while it lasted with the Warriors.
It’s too bad. O’Bryant might not be a fiery guy and I know Nelson and his staff believed O’Bryant was a stiff because he moved in slow motion through so many practices and drills.
But POB has talent. He’s a 7-footer who can shoot, he’s extremely long, he hasn’t looked dead in the few minutes Nelson gave him the last two seasons, he can pass it a little…
POB is a perfect candidate to wake up and turn into a decent, productive back-up center if he gets a coach who won’t deride him and isn’t playing on a team that is desperate to shoot threes and only threes.
Voila: The Celtics. Defending champions. Full of big bodies, and needing some younger bodies. Perfect. Now if O’Bryant blows this… where all he has to do is back up Kendrick Perksins (not that hard)… and not make Kevin Garnett wince (OK, that might be harder)…
O’Bryant never had a chance with the Warriors. Maybe he deserved living in NBA Siberia for two seasons, maybe he didn’t.
But he’s free now. He’s on a great team that wants him to succeed.