Tuesday, July 17, 2007

The Glut At Power Forward

The C's have an overabundance of power forwards. It is simple to say what a good thing this is, so simple that in fact it is probably not true. Particularly when Doc Rivers is your coach. Right now you have Big Al, Gomes, Big Baby, Powe and Scalabrine all on the roster. I would argue that for all five of these guys their natural position is power forward. It is great to have such depth when faced with the ever present reality of injuries in the NBA, but still I have an uneasy feeling. Let's dig a little deeper into the fabulous five.

First off, with the roster as it is, Scal should only play when there is a need for "energy" or "hustle." Otherwise there is no point in having him out there when you have this many quality bigs in front of him. There are just not enough minutes. If we are playing like shit and need an injection of the weird red-headed hustle Scal provides, fine. But otherwise stay seated. I'd love to see this happen, and have no faith that it will.

Powe is a slightly more difficult example. As the Celtics community has largely noticed, Powe played great in summer league. This is all fine and dandy - but we're talking about summer league. I think Powe is an NBA player, and on certain teams he would be deserving of considerable minutes. But not on this team. As a situational player who comes in for rebounding or just general toughness his services are greatly appreciated, but to have him in the regular rotation is to limit the minutes of the superior players in front of him. This is something most coaches recognize, but Doc is not most most coaches.

I don't think even the most ardent supporters of Powe could ever envision him averaging 15 and 10 on the NBA level. Conversely that is something that many of us can easily see Big Baby doing. That alone means Davis needs minutes right away. Big Baby is 21 with three years of college experience. He can play immediately. There is no need to make the same mistake that Doc did with Gomes his rookie season. Davis needs at least 10 - 15 minutes a game. If he fucks up, leave him in there. He will have to consistently screw up to deserve a benching. I doubt that he fucks up badly; like I said prior to the draft - this guy can play, there is little proof that he cannot.

With that said, I'm sick of hearing how Davis has to lose a lot more weight and improve his work ethic. I read something today from David Thorpe (I forget where, it's been a long day) saying that he should get down to like 240 pounds. Give me a fucking break. Big Baby is big, he once weighed 350 pounds for Christ's sake. His work ethic is probably better than yours, David Thorpe...

Ryan Gomes obviously needs minutes. And I think it needs to mainly be at power forward, as I have discussed in detail. If he plays small forward, he has to do it with the mentality of a "power three" (to use Doc's pet term.) This means Ryan must be active and an inside player. He should not settle for jumpers, but attack and rebound close to the rim. If he does that it is okay to play him sometimes at the three. But last year his tenure at that position was a subtle failure, and sad to watch.

Al Jefferson could (should?) be an All-Star this year, and needs to play big minutes. Like 35 or so a game. He is definitely the number one big guy on the team, and that is indisputable. Funny what a difference a year makes. I have touched upon in the past that Al is definitely a power forward, and that he is too small to dominate the center position, especially defensively. This is particularly true in the team defensive scheme, because Al cannot bring the presence in there that a true center can bring. Perkins, for example, brings much more of a presence.

Because of this I did not like it when Al played big minutes at center last year. But with the way things are currently set up, it seems playing Al at center for ten or fifteen minutes a game is the best option (unless Theo actually is healthy.) Perkins will probably play 20 - 30 minutes a game, and then Al should get the majority of the remaining minutes. Big Baby is girthy enough that he also may play center some, but he is even less suitable because of his lack of height. Offensively a pairing of Al with Gomes or Davis at the 4 & 5 is excellent. Defensively...it could be a serious problem. The lack of dominant centers in the NBA certainly will help mask the defensive deficiency. But it is a definite flaw unless the Celtics become a running and gunning team, which we all know they won't.

So if Jefferson averages about 25 minutes a night at power forward, Gomes needs at least 15 minutes there, and at least another 10 at small forward. Big Baby should get most of the remaining minutes, and can play at center some too. These are all generalizations, of course, that can change dramatically with matchups, but as a paradigm it seems appropriate to me. Al, Gomes, Perk and Big Baby should be the bigs getting the majority of the minutes. I'm obsessing over this because I know that if the roster does indeed remain the same, Doc will not share my thoughts nearly as much as I would like.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great post! I have to think that the Celtics are still going to sign another real center. Also - look how Chicago signed Joe Smith, even though they are already loaded with big men.

Anonymous said...

See, I just don't buy this. Since when is Gomes better than Scalabrine? Because he looks smooth and pretty doing things? Excuse me, but I take the guy who actually contributes and can play defense. Scalabrine can extend the floor much better than Gomes and has a longer track record doing it. Glossing over the defensive disparity is just silly, as well.

Anonymous said...

"Since when is Gomes better than Scalabrine?"

According to the Wages of Wins WPA stat, Brian Scalabrine was the worst player on the Celtics last year-- by a considerable margin. The next worse were Sebastian Telfair and Gerald Green.

The best? Jefferson, Pierce, Rondo, Allen, and Powe, in that order.

The stat is not perfect, but it's not horrendous, either.

I haven't seen any evidence that Scal is actually a good player. He has a team mentality, and he tries hard, but he's just not very good.

Anonymous said...

And what happens to Gomes Wages of Wins stat when his offensive opportunities are cut in half? He used twice as much offense so of course he is going to out-rannk Scalabrine in 'production' but not in production per touch or defensive production per touch. Scalabrine is the better player.

Jason h said...

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Anonymous said...

Barring a trade, I see Gomes getting very few minuites at PF. At the end of the season he showed marked improvent on his outside shot and played well at the three.

I'm currious to see if Powe can beat out Scal for minutes at PF and if Ratliff comes back if he will beat out Perk for starting centre job. Anybody know if Perk has lost weight this summer as he said he would.

Also, Mike Gorman liked Jefferson at center and I agree with him. I may be wrong but I do see Powe as a 12 to 15 point 10 rebound guy with Al at center. Powe's skills compliment the offensive skills of Jefferson, Pierce, and Ray Allen.

Santiel said...

"See, I just don't buy this. Since when is Gomes better than Scalabrine? Because he looks smooth and pretty doing things? Excuse me, but I take the guy who actually contributes and can play defense. Scalabrine can extend the floor much better than Gomes and has a longer track record doing it. Glossing over the defensive disparity is just silly, as well."

AH HA! You're not ANONYMOUS anymore... You've been exposed, DOC RIVERS!

Anonymous said...

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