Smart Move Signals A Changing Of The Guard

First off I would like to congratulate Marcus Smart and James Young on becoming the newest members of the Boston Celtics. I can’t wait to see what both are able to bring to the floor.

We all know that Danny Ainge went in to the draft with the tactic of drafting the best player available, not based on what the team needs right now. This is an obvious thing to do as it is clear the Celtics are a long way from title contenders.

Having said that, by drafting Smart with the 6th pick there is obviously going to be ramifications for the rest of the guards that Boston already possesses.

Credit: Brad Penner

Credit: Brad Penner

Rajon Rondo was the name that many people thought of first.  I truly believe that Smart and Rondo can co-exist. They are both brutal competitors and could form a very dangerous back court duo.

The trade rumours are obviously going to be crazy this off season, but I don’t think Ainge will actively shop Rondo. He is a four time All Star and Captain of the team, they don’t just grow on trees. It will take a huge offer for Ainge to pull the trigger, and I hope the offer doesn’t come.

The player I believe the selection of Smart effects most is Avery Bradley, who is a restricted free-agent. If Smart moves to the shooting guard position, and plays alongside Rondo, Bradley is left as the odd one out. Smart’s rookie contract is going to be a lot cheaper than retaining Bradley, who could ask for up to $9 million this off season.

Avery Bradley has always been known for his defence. Much like Bradley, Smart plays great defence and never gives up on a play. Smart is 1″ taller, and has a 2″ longer wingspan than Bradley. This may not sound like much but on the defensive end a long wingspan is so very valuable.  This only adds to the fact that Bradley could now been seen as dispensable by Ainge.

As much as I love what Bradley brings to the Celtics, I don’t believe he is worth $9 million. Sadly, I think we’ve seen the last of Avery Bradley in Boston.

Phil Pressey showed tremendous promise throughout his rookie season in 2013/14. He went undrafted but showed he can definitely have an impact in the NBA.

The drafting of Smart will have a huge effect on Pressey’s minutes going forward. Smart will take a lot of the minutes that Pressey saw last season. That being said, if Smart is moved to the two guard position, Pressey will most likely still see some court time as Rondo’s primary back up.

I think Pressey is definitely worth keeping around, especially due to the fact that he is cheap and is learning from one of the best in Rajon Rondo.

Jerryd Bayless came to Boston in the Courtney Lee trade last season. Mainly seen as a cost-saving move, he did provide some quality games for the Celtics and was a solid contributor once he became familiar with sBrad Steven’ system.

This off season, Bayless becomes an unrestricted free-agent. Unlike Bradley, Bayless could be signed for a reasonable amount. If the Celtics can sign him for a good price I think he will still have a role to play for the team. He could slot in nicely as a sixth man, behind Rondo at the point and Smart at shooting guard.

Marcus Smart brings so much fight and heart to the Celtics. He is mature beyond his years and has an NBA ready frame and mindset. Whilst his selection could be problematic for individuals, the future of the Celtics looks to be in good hands.

All You Need Is Love

If you’re a fan of the NBA, you would be well aware of Kevin Love’s pending free agency in the summer of 2015. If you’re a fan of the Boston Celtics, you may also be aware the superstar power forward just spent the entire weekend in the city of Boston.

 

Artwork by CDU's own @lil_kaino

Artwork by CDU’s own @lil_kaino

With reports that Love wants out of Minnesota as soon as possible and won’t re-sign with the team next year, it’s hard not to get excited at the realistic possibility of K-Love teaming up with Rajon Rondo and the Celtics.

 

Yes, every team should be targeting such a talent. A rebounding machine, talented shooter and a fierce competitor, Love will draw a huge asking price to pry him away from the Timberwolves. This is where the Celtics have the upper hand on almost every other franchise in the league.

 

Danny Ainge has been stockpiling away those picks for something big, and this could definitely be what we have all been waiting for. Holding pick #6 in this year’s draft, the top prospects are out of our grasp, so it makes a lot of sense to trade away the draft selection along with one of our many other assets to convince the Timberwolves to play along and bring Kevin Love to the city of Boston.

 

It’s worth revisiting quotes from 2014′s All-Star weekend, when Love shared his opinion of the 2013/14 version of the C’s

“I’ve never really spent much time in Boston. I don’t know it too well,” he said. “But I think as far as playing there, we love competing against those guys. I think they have a great coach and they have a ton of youngsters that are up-and-comers.

“Boston is a great city. I’m sure free agents would love to go there, especially with [Brad] Stevens as a coach. He’s a guy that can win basketball games. He gets guys to play for him. They’ve been having good success there, even in his first year, and he has a lot of young players. The coach has a lot to do with it, but yeah, Boston is a great place.”

 

Over the weekend, Love was spotted in a few establishments that would have opened his eyes to the city’s proud sporting culture. Across the road from TD Garden, Love enjoyed a dinner at The Greatest Sports Bar, and a conversation with a co-owner who told The Boston Globe

“It went great,” Fairweather told the Globe on Sunday. “The kid is a real gentleman. I think he has a real appreciation with the Celtics’ history and tradition.”

 

The most stirring sighting however, was left to a Red Sox game at Fenway Park, where Captain Rondo and Kevin Love were snapped having a laugh together (courtesy of @BigDub on Twitter). The combination of Rondo dropping dimes and Love cleaning the glass is the stuff championship-calibre teams can be built on. It’s hard not to get carried away.

 

However Flip Saunders, president of basketball operations for the T-Wolves, tried his best to put a wet blanket over the entire weekend

“The last I knew Kevin was under contract with us, and I expect him to be playing for us next year,” Saunders told reporters in Minneapolis on Sunday. “I don’t really dictate where guys go on vacation or what they do. They can go wherever they want to go.”

With regard to the teams that are interested in Love, Saunders said, “I know there’s a feeding frenzy out there from a lot of teams. Unfortunately, they have no say. I plan on Kevin being here.”

 

This is the sort of thing you expect to hear from a team hoping to keep their star player, as Celtics fans this is something I would choose to overlook and instead believe we have a good chance of landing the 25-year-old from UCLA. It has also been reported that Love will speak to former UCLA and Celtic Bill Walton about the experience of playing for the Boston faithful. Draft night cannot come quickly enough.

 

Future first-round draft picks, playoff-calibre players, a trade exception, and expiring contracts are all part of Ainge’s arsenal right now. While trades cannot be done until draft night, the sign that Love is interested in the city of Boston makes it really hard for Celtics fans not to get their hopes up. After all, Love is all you need.

 

- Michael (@mickyt34)

Aussie Prospects For The 2014 Draft

With the Celtics’ offseason beginning earlier than fans have become accustomed to in recent seasons, the lack of news surrounding the C’s has been deflating. In the lead up to this week’s lottery, we take a look at the two Australians vying for their chance to join the NBA – hopefully in a green uniform as far as we’re concerned.

The first Australian (that some of you may have heard of), is potential top-5 pick Dante Exum. While there has been conjecture on his preferred position as a point or shooting guard, the 18 year old can play. He is a product of the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra and stands at 6’6” with a 6’9” wingspan.

Having impressed at the Nike Hoop Summit and leading the Australian Emus to fourth in the Under 19 World Championships last year (averaging 18.2 points per game), Exum has played sparingly at a top-level competition since. This has added intrigue to exactly where Exum will go in the draft, but the general consensus surrounding the combo-guard is that he won’t last beyond the fifth pick.

With the NBA’s Draft Combine taking place in Chicago, the Sydney Morning Herald noted how Exum performed

The 18-year-old lived up to the hype at the NBA Draft combine in Chicago, impressing team executives, coaches and the US media with his speed, jumping ability, wingspan and intelligence.

In speed tests, Exum eclipsed every other shooting guard.

With the lottery coming up this week and Avery Bradley’s restricted free agent status pending, I hope the Celtics are in the mix for the young Aussie. After all, Celtics insider A. Sherrod Blakley tweeted about it a few days ago

Time will tell.

 

The other Australian in the mix as a second-round option is 6’9” Power Forward Cameron Bairstow. A product of New Mexico, Bairstow played all four years of College to prepare for this opportunity. Basketball Australia’s own website provides a good summary of how far the hustle player has come over the past year and a half

Coming off an outstanding senior year for the University of New Mexico, Bairstow has become one of the bolters into NBA Draft contention, announcing himself as one of the premier forwards in college basketball.

The 23-year-old led the Lobos to the Mountain West Conference tournament title and finished second in MWC Player of the Year voting, coming off a brilliant international season that saw him become a key player in the Boomers program.

Brought into the training squad ahead of the 2013 Sino-Australia Challenge, Bairstow would go on to play a major role in Head Coach Andrej Lemanis’ first series win, before going on to lead the Emerging Boomers to their first World University Games medal – silver in Russia.

This ensured Bairstow would be part of the team that would secure the 2013 FIBA Oceania Championship for the Boomers. In all, Bairstow played more than 20 games for his country during the college off-season, preparing him well for his senior year.

Such was his impact on the Lobos, Bairstow would finish the season in the top 20 in scoring at more than 20 points per game.

Bairstow is an energy guy that could carve out a role off the bench in the NBA. He plays hard and with physicality, can hit the mid-range shot and he can go to work down in the post. I hope he is lucky enough to secure a spot in this league alongside Australia’s growing list of players in the NBA.

Hard to believe the draft is still a whole month away!

- Michael (@mickyt34)

 

 

Green Kick of the Week ft. Rajon Rondo’s RR1′s

Rajon Rondo has been rocking some great colourways of his first signature shoe, the Anta RR1, in the last couple of weeks, none more so than what he laced up before the final game of the season earlier this week.

This weeks winner of KOTW is Rajon Rondo and his pair of Anta RR1 ‘Boston Strong’ PE. These are more than just shoes, they are a tribute to the victims of last years Boston Marathon bombings.

photo via @RajonRondo's Instagram page.

photo via @RajonRondo’s Instagram page.

Although Rondo didn’t play in the regular season finale, it was great to see him go to the effort to pay his respects to those affected by the bombings.

As you can see the tongue features a ‘BOSTON STRONG’ decal along with the date of the bombings. The shoe didn’t stop there in honouring the victims, the initials of every victim cover the majority of the outer of the shoe. The blue lining and a yellow sole of the shoe matches the colours of the Marathon’s logo.

credit: counterkicks.com

credit: counterkicks.com

To make these shoes even more special, Rondo is donating these kicks to ‘One Fund‘; a charity set up in wake of the tragedy to help those affected by it.

I don’t know about you, but these kicks are my favourite for the whole season. Rondo was a great leader this year, on and of the court. He won community awards and made many young fans dreams come true through charity work. And people think Rajon is a jerk! I certainly don’t.

What are your thoughts on these kicks? Are these your favourite kicks of the season too?

Offseason Dreaming: Gortat In Green

Although the Celtics season of mediocrity isn’t quite over yet, the remaining 7 games can’t come quickly enough in what has been a long 82-game stand. With this in mind, it’s never too early to look towards the period in June and July this year where Danny Ainge is expected to be very active.

Polish center Marcin Gortat displayed his affections for the C’s in yesterday’s game against the Wizards in DC, which grabbed my attention as a fan excitedly looking towards the offseason.

Early in the contest, Rondo displayed his signature behind-the-back fake pass that left Gortat with his feet nailed to the floor. Down the other end, Trevor Booker attempted a pair of free throws while Rondo and Gortat shared a laugh over the previous play. This may not seem like much, but there is definitely a mutual respect between the pair, as the Polish Hammer took to Twitter after the game to illustrate this point:

As the 3rd quarter wound down with Jeff Green getting ready to sink some free throws, the Celtics players huddled round for a quick discussion, only to be joined by a certain #4 in a Wizards uniform. It was another mischievous act in yesterday’s game, which was literally embraced by Rondo by having his arm around Gortat as well.

Admittedly, these are only two small things that really don’t point to much on their own. Last year in the offseason, Brandon Bass and Gortat worked out together. The former Orlando Magic teammates clearly share a good relationship to still be catching up and playing ball together, which could work well in any recruitment pitches the Celtics may put to the center.

Becoming an unrestricted free agent after this season, Gortat is earning $7.27 million this year and could demand a similar figure on the open market. While the Wizards are obviously eager to re-sign him, with Marc Stein reporting his signature ‘as a top priority’ for Washington, he has the choice of signing with any team around the league.

The Celtics desperately need a quality center on their roster moving forward, if the Omer Asik trade rumours were anything to go by in December last year. At 30 years of age, Gortat has plenty of good years left in the NBA.

Putting together mutual respect between Gortat and the Captain of the Celtics, his relationship with former teammate Bass, his status as an unrestricted free agent and the Celtics with a plethora of picks and money to make it happen, here’s hoping that fun he had with the Celtics yesterday is the start of something much bigger.

Share your thoughts with us!

- Michael (@mickyt34)

 

Green Kick of the Week ft. Rajon Rondo’s Anta’s

Rajon Rondo ditched Nike before the start of this season and joined Anta, where he got his own signature shoe; the Anta RR1.

He has been switching back and forth between green, black and white colourways of the shoe. Last week he changed things up and rocked a brand new colourway against the Raptors at The Garden.

This week’s winner of Green Kick Of The Week is Rajon Rondo and his Anta RR1′s. This colourway is bright and reminds of the striking Nike’s he wore last season.

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These kicks feature my favourite colourway I’ve seen on the Anta RR1. The bright green pattern almost looks like a salute to ‘The Hulk’.

Unfortunately this colourway isn’t available to the public yet. I really hope they are released, although I highly doubt they will be. If they are, I know I’ll be grabbing a pair as fast as possible.

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I’ve been a huge fan of Rondo switching to Anta since the first rumours of the move surfaced, and its colourways like these that prove you don’t need to be with Nike or Jordan Brand to have fantastic kicks.

What do think of these kicks? Do you think Rondo should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Green Kick Of The Week ft. Avery Bradley’s No Mercy’s

The 2013-14 season for the Celtics is winding down. Whilst their record isn’t pretty, there have been plenty of positives. The return of Rajon Rondo and the emergence of Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk have been some of my personal highlights.

Another highlight has been watching Avery Bradley find his shooting stroke. He has been especially terrific in the last week. His game against the Heat was tremendous; draining 6 three pointers, and totaling 23 points. He followed that up with another huge performance against Brooklyn. He scored 28 points and grabbed 4 rebounds.

credit: solecollector.com

credit: solecollector.com

Bradley wore an awesome par of kicks against Brooklyn. This weeks winner of Green Kick Of The Week is Avery Bradley and his very bright pair of Adidas ‘No Mercy’ kicks. He also laced them up on St Patrick’s Day against Dallas.

Bradley has now won back-to-back KOTW‘s after taking out last weeks competition with his Crazy 1′s. In my opinion, the Adidas No Mercy’s were a  great choice by Avery. The bright green and black colourway are a great match with the C’s uniform.

credit: @keezcam

credit: @keezcam

More importantly, Avery has been playing great in these kicks.

Do you think Avery should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Celtics rain 3′s, cool Heat.

Game 69 of 82: Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics

rondo-drive-heat-012114-350x300

The LeBron-less Miami came out on fire, connecting on 6 of their first 7 shots as they took a 12-7 lead at the first timeout. The Celtics responded, tying the game on a Jeff Green 3 at 14-14. The Heat then went on a 9-0 run before Sullinger nailed a 3, which he followed up with yet another shot from deep shortly after. Miami closed the quarter on a 18-6 run led by Haslem’s 12 points , Chalmer’s 8 assists & took a 34-22 lead at the end of 1.

The second quarter seemed to be all about the three ball. Boston started the second frame on a 9-5 run to cut the Heat lead to 9 on an Avery 3 with 8:44 left in the half. Bayless & Avery nailed back to back 3’s for the Celtics to get the Heat lead down to 6 with 6 left in the half. Ray scored for the Heat & KO followed with a 3 to cut it down to 3. Miami pushed the lead back to 7 on a Wade jumper. The Celtics outscored Miami 31-25 & trailed 59-53 at the half.

Halftime statistics:

  • Celtics 9-18 from 3, Miami 1-5
  • Heat shot 56%, Celtics 48%
  • Miami 32 points in the paint, Celtics 8

The Celtics began the second half on a 10-2 run to take a 2 point lead after AB scored 6 straight, followed by a Green layup that forced a Miami timeout. Miami responded with a 6-0 run to lead by 4. The Celtics answered with a 6-0 run to retake the lead. Avery nailed a 3 to give the Celtics a 4 point lead before Norris Cole and Ray Allen hit 3′s with a Bass basket in between to tie things back up. The Celtics had 4 tries of it to end the quarter but couldn’t get a shot to fall & Boston led 80-78 after 3, outscoring Miami 19-27 in the quarter.

The Celtics pushed their lead to 5 with 9:30 left with 2 Sullinger free throws. Avery hit his 6th 3 on the night, followed by a Rondo jumper to put the Celtics up 6. Ray Allen tied the game with a pair of free throws with 4:30 left. Green hit a 3 and Rondo forced a jump ball against Haslem, won it & scored to put the Celtics up 5 with 1:44 left. Wade cut it to 3 but Rondo answered with a jumper to put the C’s on top by 5 with 18 seconds left. Miami missed a 3 & the Celtics, with some quick passing, Miami couldn’t foul & Boston ran out the clock & won it 101-96.

Turning point: with the Celtics up 3 and Haslem grabbed an offensive board in the final 2 minutes, took a risk with 5 fouls & forced a jump ball. Rondo won the jump ball & scored at the other end.

Bonus: Rondo highlight reel!

Notable statistics:

  • Celtics shot 51%, Heat 49%
  • Heat had 81FGA, Celtics 77
  • Celtics 13-28 from 3, Heat 4-17
  • Miami 37 rebounds, Celtics 36
  • Celtics & Miami had 29 assists
  • Miami 50-20 in points in the paint

Player stat lines:

  1. Rajon Rondo: 9-10-15
  2. Avery Bradley: 23-4
  3. Brandon Bass: 18-4
  4. Jeff Green: 13-4-3
  5. Jared Sullinger: 14-4-3
  6. Kelly Olynyk 10-5

Green Kick of the Week ft. Avery Bradley’s Adidas Crazy 1′s

Avery Bradley made his long-awaited return against the Suns last week. Whilst it took him some time to find his groove, he did have a solid hit out for his first game in over a month.

He made his return in a GOLD pair of Adidas Crazy 1 “Awards Season” kicks. These kicks were more than enough for Bradley to claim his first Green Kick Of The Week title for season 2013-14.

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Bradley wore these sneakers earlier in 2014, but there was some tougher competition that week. As you can tell from the photos, these kicks stand out from the crowd with their gold and white outer.

The Adidas Crazy 1 was a perfect choice for Avery; they are a great match with the Celtics new sleeved St. Patrick’s Days uniform.

Capture

What are your thoughts on these kicks? Do you think ‘The Game Changer’ should keep ‘em or dump ‘em?

Kelly’s Playing Olright

The expectations on most rookie big men must be set reasonably low as players transition from the tempo of the college game into the faster pace of the NBA. However, this isn’t always the case when those rookie bigs are drafted in the top 15 of their class.

Kelly Olynyk displayed a high basketball IQ from the word go, especially when he was named player of the tournament for the 2013 Summer League in Orlando. However, the pace of real NBA games meant Olynyk had trouble finding his feet over the first few months of the season proper.

The turnaround in Kelly’s game over the past two months or so can be put down to something rather simple: confidence. This added confidence can be attributed to several factors. A familiarity with Coach Stevens’ system and his teammates (especially Phil Pressey), an understanding of the tempo of the game and his opponents, and just being comfortable knowing his own game is good enough at this level.

Tommy Heinsohn noted that Olynyk’s selection to the Rising Stars game at All-Star weekend may have helped him feel like he truly belongs at this level.

He is no longer hesitating with the ball in his hands, instead taking the shots that are available to him straightaway, demonstrating a higher arc on his jump shots too. If the shots aren’t there, he simply illustrates a very smart passing game to find an open teammate. Olynyk runs the floor very well for a big man, and his ability to finish around the rim is very impressive. In February he averaged 8.4 points per game, substantially improving on averages in December and January of 6.1 and 6.3 points per contest.

Since his return from a toe injury, Kelly has posted averages of 16 points at 53% field goal percentage, 6 rebounds and 1.5 assists in 22.5 minutes of court time over those 3 games.

Not only is Olynyk putting up better numbers and looking comfortable in offensive sets, he is also playing with an added aggression which has seen a spike in his rebounding numbers. Over the months of December and January, Olynyk averaged 3.6 and 3.8 boards per contest respectively. In February, those numbers jumped to 6.5 rebounds per game. This is no coincidence, as he actively pursues rebounds and positions himself a lot better than he used to.

It also seems as though Kris Humphries’ tutelage has been working on Olynyk, as he looks to have added some size and muscle since the start of the season.

Danny Ainge has now drafted Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk over the past two offseasons, with both big men showing enormous potential to be something special for the Celtics going forward. As Kelly continues to improve, it’s exciting to think about what the future holds for this young and promising team.

- Michael (@mickyt34)

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