Friday, July 20, 2007

Danger: minutes at the wing

The roster isn't set so I'm not presuming to know who will play how many minutes this coming season, but I do have a concern:

The Ray Allen trade CAN work. It's risky. Many things have to break just right: chemistry, the OTHER TRADE, Jeff Green or Yi not becoming immediate hall of famers, etc. But the most important thing that needs to be addressed is health and career longevity, and THAT MEANS limiting minutes for Ray Allen and Paul Pierce ...this has not been a strong suit for Doc Rivers.

I'm not a Doc basher (Lord knows the world does not need another one) but I was perplexed by his allocation of minutes to both Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak over the past two seasons.

I understand why Doc did it. He was trying to win, needed good vets on the court, and Wally and Paul were the ONLY ones available. But it was SO painful watching Szczerbiak out there playing minutes in the mid to high 30s range, when you just knew he wouldn't hold up. Then Pierce finally got worn down and injured too.

So now we're here. Pierce and Ray Allen are right at the crest of their careers. They are not young. If anyone intends for them to play productively into a blissful Reggie Miler twilight, their minutes must be limited and managed.

Let's look at the potential back up wings:

*You can't count on Tony Allen being available. Frankly you can't depend on him being any good at all this season— maybe he can contribute a bit after mid-year if everything goes right.
*Maybe Gerald will put it together and earn time. But you saw summer league— maybe he won't. (Hey really he's number 3 on the most likely to be traded list after Theo and Telfair.)
*Allan Ray?... if he's even on the team. I don't know about him playing anyway.
*Brandon Wallace? Maybe, I guess. That's being pretty optimistic.

So who's going to fill that extra wing time? Gomes for sure. He can play some 3 and the team certainly has other guys to fill the little-big-man role. (I think Ainge loves Ryan and will only trade him very reluctantly.)

For the first time in many years you can tell what position Paul Pierce is going to be playing: Ray Allen is a guard. That definitively makes Pierce a small forward—there's no more fudging the wing spots together.

So as things stand now provided Gerald Green doesn't improve, Ray Allen will play the 2, Paul Pierce the 3, and when Ryan Gomes subs at the 3 and Ray rests, Pierce will slide to guard.

Now IF Gerald is still here and can play, everything's easy. Green just fills those extra minutes and R. Allen and Pierce get their essential rest. But if Gerald's ineffective LOOK OUT, there is a dangerous chance that Paul and Ray will play too many minutes too early, too often, shortening their end of game effectiveness and even their careers.

Doc MUST WIN NOW. Danny must win now. The easiest way to do that is to overplay the two stars. BUT the easiest way to insure that this risky trade fails is to do just that. The situation is kind of perilous.

Everyone knows there is very likely another trade coming. I hope when it does come, it brings in a solid wing who can spell Pierce and Allen, otherwise this whole thing could easily end badly. Or else I hope for the sudden blossoming of Gerald Green— that would do it too.


Kevin said...

I think our best bet is that Tony Allen miraculously recovers. But he got hurt in what, January? That would be only a 10 month recovery period. I know ACL surgeries have improved so much that the one-year recovery window has shortened, but he's going to struggle more with this mentally.

If this had happened to Wally, who's not a slasher/leaper and also a set-shot kind of guy it wouldn't be that big of a deal (except on defense). But this will affect Tony more than any other player on the team, even Gerald. Because at least Gerald could fall back on his (supposed) outside shooting. Tony doesn't even have that.

Fingers, toes, everything crossed.

Gant said...

Tony will be able to wear a uniform, but I doubt he'll have strength and confidence in that knee to be effective for quite a while. I mean I really hope I'm wrong on that score, but it just seems likely.

Brandon Wallace could actually help this season— at least Mike Gorman thinks so.

On Gerald, I'm waiting until training camp to see if he's even here before thinking too much about his role.

...Crossing many limbs and digits as well.

Anonymous said...

While Tony Allen recovers, look for Ryan Gomes to get minutes at small forward, with Pierce sliding over to guard while Ray Allen is out.