Team Preview #1: Boston Celtics
by Eric Wong AKA Roto EvilAugust 1st, 2008
For my 1st Team Preview, I will be examining the 2007-08 NBA Champions.
LAST SEASONThe Celtics came flying out of the gates (29-3 record to start the season) and never looked back. They had the #1 defense in the league, they beat their regular season foes by an average scoring margin of +10.3 points, and they decisively beat the Lakers in the Finals to win their record 17th NBA Championship.
Fantasy-wise, the Celtics had a pace factor of just 90.9 (19th of 30), which coupled with their scoring margin, limited the fantasy value of their players (especially KG).
OFFSEASON MOVESAdded: Patrick O'Bryant, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker, Semih Erden
Lost: James Posey, P.J. Brown, Sam Cassell, Scot Pollard
The 7-foot O'Bryant was the #9 pick in 2006, but he never proved his worth to Don Nelson and thus the Warriors let him go. He will attempt to replace P.J. Brown, who is likely retiring after a rock solid NBA career (1 championship, 1 sportsmanship award, and 3 All-Defensive team selections). Erden is another 7-foot project, but he's going to stay in Turkey this season. Giddens and Walker are ultra-athletic rookie swingmen who will try to help fill the gaping hole left by James Posey's departure (don't expect much from either). Veterans Sam Cassell and Scot Pollard are both free agents unlikely to return.
ROTATION / PLAYING TIMEAs you all know, Boston is led by Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen. All three will play 33-36 minutes per game and post similar stats to last season. At point guard and center, Rajon Rondo (30.0 mpg) and Kendrick Perkins (24.5 mpg) proved that they are more than capable starters. With another year of experience and a boost of NBA title confidence, expect a slight bump in playing time and production for both youngsters. Perkins has had shoulder problems in the past, but he had surgery recently and should be good to go for '08-09.
With Posey (24.6 mpg) gone, Tony Allen (18.3 mpg) will have to step up as Boston's 6th man and defensive stopper off the bench. He struggled last year recovering from a major knee injury, but he could bounceback nicely in '08-09. Eddie House (19.0 mpg) will backup Rondo at PG and be instant offense as usual. Since Tony Allen is not a 3-point shooter like Posey was, House could easily surpass his career-high of 1.5 made threes per game. Leon Powe (14.5 mpg) will be Boston's first big man off the bench. He showed his explosiveness when he scored 21 points in just 15 minutes in game 2 of the NBA Finals, and he should play a bigger role this season. Glen "Big Baby" Davis had a decent rookie season, and probably has the inside track over O'Bryant as their backup center. (None of the backup bigs are likely to have any fantasy value unless there's an injury). And of course, Brian Scalabrine will get his usual 10th man mop-up minutes.
DON'T SLEEP ON: Rajon Rondo & Tony AllenAt first glance, Rondo seems like he's just a 2-category fantasy player, finishing 13th in steals and 22nd in assists per game last year. However, his FG% was rock solid at 49.2%, his turnovers were fairly low at just 1.9 per game, and the only PG's who pulled down more rebounds were Jason Kidd and Baron Davis. Of course, he still can't make a three to save his life and his free throw shooting was horrendous at just 61.1%, but that just means there's plenty of room for improvement in the 22-year old's game and fantasy value. After averaging 30 minutes and 5.1 assists per game in the regular season, he pumped those numbers up to 32 minutes and 6.6 dimes per in the playoffs, a very promising sign for the season ahead. His offensive game is still unpolished, but he should be a decent #2 or excellent #3 point guard in '08-09.
After tearing both the ACL and MCL in his left knee in January 2007, Tony Allen returned to the court just 9 months later in time for the '07-08 season. Much of his quickness and explosiveness was gone, but he was still a quality defender and had a mediocre season. Fantasy-wise, he wasn't even a blip on the radar screen, but that could change this year as he gets more playing time. If you remember, Tony Allen was putting up BIG-TIME stats before he blew out his knee (in the 19 games prior, he averaged 16.6 points, 5.3 boards, 2.6 assists, 2.2 steals, .6 blocks, 52.3% FG, and 79.0% FT in 32.5 minutes per game). There's no way he'll duplicate those numbers this season, but he could have some value if his knee is 100% healthy. If he looks good in preseason, don't be afraid to gamble on him.
BE CAREFUL OF: Ray AllenThe elder Allen was brilliant in the NBA Finals, recording 122 points, 30 rebounds, 8 steals, 4 blocks and making 22 of 42 threes in just 6 games, but he had been struggling quite a bit before that. He still finished the regular season as a Top 50 fantasy player, but his stats were down in nearly every single category. As long as he can walk, Mr. Shuttleworth will be able to hit some threes, but there are other areas of concern. His steals per game slipped from 1.5 to .9, suggesting that the 33-year old may have lost half a step. And his stellar 90% FT shooting isn't nearly as helpful to your fantasy team when he's attempting just 3.2 freebies per game like he did last year vs. the career-high 5.6 that he attempted just one year earlier. Don't get me wrong, Allen is still an elite fantasy player. Just don't use a 2nd or 3rd round pick on him like you did in the past.
ROUND BY ROUND TARGETS(Where you should draft these guys in an 8-cat Roto league with 12 teams and 14 man rosters)
Garnett: Mid-to-Late 1st
Pierce: 2nd - 3rd
R. Allen: 5th
Rondo: 7th - 8th
Perkins: 10th - 11th
T. Allen: Last round (if he looks good in preseason)
House: Don't draft (but pickup if you need threes)
Powe: Don't draft (but pickup ASAP if KG goes down)
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