A lot of Boston fans seem to be unhappy about Ray Allen taking his talents to south beach. It is somewhat understandable after he helped the Celtics win a title along with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett. But there are multiple reasons why this will become a blessing in disguise for Celtics Nation.
Last season was statistically the worst season of Ray’s career since his rookie year in the 1996-1997 season. He still has the perfect shot, but he’s no Jesus Shuttlesworth anymore. Last year in 46 games for the Celtics, Allen averaged 14 points, 3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 1 steal in 34 minutes a game. He shot 45% from the field as well as behind the arc, which is fantastic. But he definitely lost a step defensively and was no longer a threat close to the basket like he once was. It was clear that Allen was the fourth man for the Celtics, behind guys like Garnett, Pierce and Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics were getting older and older year after year. This season they made the right choices in the draft with Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Those two big men will learn a lot from a guy like Garnett, who plays the game of basketball with a passion unmatched by any athlete. The team is now building around star point guard Rondo, which was the best way to go. I don’t think the team had a chance in the playoffs, much less a title shot, with how the team was constructed. Paul Pierce is the heart and soul of the team. A true leader. It’s only fitting that he will get a couple more shots at a title before he hangs them up.
A huge pickup for the Celtics was Jason Terry. Statistically Terry’s numbers were very similar to Allen’s last season, maybe even better. He’s also three years younger than Ray. It’s no debate that Allen is a hall of famer and had the better career, but at this point in their respective careers Terry is the better player. Last season in 63 games for the Dallas Mavericks, Terry averaged 15 points, 2.4 rebounds, 3.6 assists and 1 steal in 31 minutes a game. Terry is also a NBA Champion, so he knows how to go about it with a new team and spread his knowledge to the younger players. Jason Terry was very similar to Allen last season, and Terry is only a 6th man, which he will be again in Boston. Terry will bring a much needed scoring boost of the bench that Boston missed all of last season.
The biggest pickup for the Celtics, and their number one target was Courtney Lee. Boston got his services this offseason with a sign-and-trade with the Houston Rockets. He will take Ray’s starting spot in the lineup and bring a very different game. Lee is more of a role player and very defensive minded. Lee is also a great leader, which i got to see on a nightly basis with the Rockets. With Rondo at point, Lee will be able to knock down easy corner three’s similar to Allen. Last season in 58 games with the Rockets, Lee averaged 11.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1 steal in 30 minutes a game. If you look at those numbers you will see a bit of a drop off from Allen’s season averages. But last season Lee only started 26 of the total 58 games played. After starting shooting guard Kevin Martin went down with an injury for the Rockets, Lee stepped in as a starter and didn’t disappoint. In 26 starts, Lee averaged 14 points, 3.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.5 steals in 36 minutes a game. He shot 43% from the field and 40% from three. Lee will also be just 27 years old by the time next season starts. 10 years younger than Allen.
A backcourt of Rondo, Lee, Terry and youngster Avery Bradley will be a force out in the east. Not to mention the Celtics still have the two future hall of famers. The Celtics didn’t take a step back, they took a step forward and got significantly better. The only thing the Celtics need to address is the center position. They have Garnett, Bass, Sullinger and Melo. But who is going start at the five spot and make a significant impact?
The Celtics reign of terror in the Eastern Conference is far from over. I see them battling the Heat and Ray Allen in the Eastern Conference Finals in 2013.