August 5, 2010 11 Comments
Mid-way through the 2009-10 NBA season the Boston Celtics looked to be a team on the decline. Having already won an NBA championship with the Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce in 2008, the dream of a second championship had already been wiped from the minds of much of the basketball world. Talks swirled around the trade deadline of moving Ray Allen and thus breaking up the once dominating big 3.
Move forward to the 2010 off-season, another championship finals under their belts and the big 3 still intact. The Celtics have gone out and signed the Big Diesel, Shaquille O’Neal, to a 2 year deal worth around $3 million. With the signing of Shaq, the word rebuilding has been taken out of the vocabulary of Boston Celtic fans for at least another season.
Mixed reviews have been pouring in over the bringing in of Shaquille O’Neal to the Boston Celtics, but I am definitely one who is not against it.
It is obvious to everyone that Shaq’s play has fallen off massively from his heyday with the Lakers, but quality big men are few are far between in the NBA which is part of what makes the Shaq signing logical.
With Kendrick Perkins out until possibly February following knee surgery, you have to ask what is your next best option for a big man other than Shaquille O’Neal.
There really is not much out there, and with the Celtics being one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA last season they could sure use the 7 foot 1 force in the paint.
Of “quality” big men, the Celtics currently are sporting Jermaine O’Neal who, like Shaq, is a player well past the prime of his career. For Jermaine O’Neal, injuries have been a big problem throughout his career, and at the age of 31 he doesn’t have the same explosiveness in his legs that he had in years past. Jermaine O’Neal can still do good things for a team but is just not a solid enough interior presence. In his last 3 seasons he has maxed out at 7 rebounds per game and not to mention being constantly in and out of the line-up.
Again, like Shaq, this grizzled veteran is not going to able to carry a big load on his own. However, combine their forces and they might be able to create a formidable force up front.
The C’s are going to need Shaq on defence when it comes to stopping the NBA’s elite big men. We all saw how Kendrick Perkins was able to shut down Dwight Howard for much of the Magic-Celtic series. But without Perkins there is no way the Celtics can rely on guys like Jermaine O’Neal to get the job done defensively. Even though Shaq is one of the worst pick and roll defenders in the league, the Boston Celtics as a team are one of the best defensively, and should be able to make up for his lack of mobility in those situations.
One of the biggest knocks on Shaq at this point in his career is his detrimental effect to his team’s offence. Because of his inability to run the floor well, Shaq greatly slows done the offence and once his team’s offence gets set in the half court he clogs the lane for teammates. Moreover, Shaq no longer has the ability to dominate the paint. He doesn’t finish around the basket like he used to and his initial post position is farther from the basket.
Despite these flaws, many analysts have noted that the Boston offence is very methodical. Unlike the Phoenix Suns, the Celtics don’t rely on running and gunning. Although it should be mentioned that Rondo will face some difficulty attacking the paint like he has done in the past with Shaq there to be a bit of a road block.
Lastly, I have to talk about his so-called attitude problems. People are questioning Shaq’s ego and whether he is willing to take a reduced role without complaining.
I really don’t think this is going to be a problem at all. First off, Shaq is surrounded by a team of players who are just out to win. Who’s to say that Shaq is no different? It seems to me he just wants a championship ring for his pinkie finger and doesn’t singing a contract worth virtually nothing to him show that he is all about winning? Also, there is no way that Shaq still thinks he is still the main man in town. Again, he is surrounded by great players and the fact that nobody is willing to give him a contract with a significant amount of money should be humbling to a man of his stature.
At the beginning of the off-season I didn’t think that anyone in their right minds should sign Shaq, but the Boston Celtics situation has convinced me and it should convince you otherwise.
Agree? Disagree? If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please feel free to reply in the comments section below. Or you can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m now on twitter follow me @paintstheblack and I will gladly return the favour.
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