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Thursday, February 10, 2005
The Young Gun Award 
Part two of the mid-season awards takes a look at the rookies and 2nd year guys who currently make up about half of the roster. It is an interesting time to be a Celtics fan these days, for the first time since the 98-99 team with Antoine, Mercer and the rookie Pierce, this team has an exciting core of very young and promising players. The future certainly seems bright for this group and Celtics Nation has a good deal of hope that the 17th Championship Banner will make its way to the rafters of the Garde...Fleet Center in the coming years.

Before examining the kids, I just wanted to acknowledge the cheesiness of this award name. To that point, I would like to channel Simmons and say whenever you can reference a movie starring Kiefer, Emelio and Charlie Sheen you do it. Well now I'm having 2nd thoughts about the name after seeing the freefall their respective careers took after Young Guns, but its too late now.

To be eligible for this award, a player needs to have less than 2 seasons of NBA game experience. Jiri was nearly eligible as he has barely over 2 seasons of game experience. The award should go to the player who has had the biggest impact on the performance of the team this, not the guy with the most potential....

Anyway on to the First (and hopefully last) Young Gun Award:

Al Jefferson
The 6'10" 265 rookie was really not expected to even play this year. There have been numerous stories, particularly of late about Al's poor performance in workouts, his lack of "measurable" strength and his naivete. However, this kid makes it up with a fantastic attitude/work ethic and most importantly an inherent talent level that has drawn comparisons to Moses Malone and Amare Stoudamire. Watching Al play, you can see it - the quick spins in the post, his great hands, a nose for the ball - it's all there. Al just needs time to learn. Anecdotally, I've heard quotes that the front office believes Al to be the best draft pick since Kevin McHale. His performance on the floor this year has exceeded all expectations and Al really is the prime reason for the optimism surrounding this squad. Despite the recent injury setback, Al's statistics per 48 minutes are really fantastic, particularly on the glass. For the season his stats are as follows:

MIN FG% FT% STL BLK TO REB AST PTS
16 52% 61% .33 1.0 1.0 4.8 .3 7.0


Tony Allen
Tony burst on to the national scene with a fantastic performance at last years NCAA tournament. Danny snagged the cagey senior with the last Celtic pick in the first round, 25th overall. After his selection there were murmurs this summer of some sick dunks and all around solid play at the informal pickup games the C's play before Summer league. And then came Summer League, and Tony exploded into the consciousness of Celtics Nation. The story of Pierce offering $150 a dunk in a game, to which Tony responded with two quick and furious slams (and made sure PP noticed) still gets me pumped about TA. Since then, Tony exhibited wonderful skills such as lock down defense, to the point where he is mentioned as the Celtics' best on ball defender, and a ferocious attack at the basket (particularly off rebounds on the left side which TA prefers). His energy and enthusiasm eventually earned TA a starting role. At this point, TA needs experience and some work on his jumper. The jumper in particular is widely believed to be his biggest weakness right now, however he actually shoots a decent percentage on the jump shot. While Tony doesn't get to see a ton of floor time given the talent on the team at his position, his per 48 minute stats would put him comparably at #4 in the league in steals. Tony is also a solid rebounder for a guard/sf. His defense and rebounding are huge in a running offense as it really facilitates the fast break.

MIN FG% FT% STL BLK TO REB AST PTS
15 47% 76% 1.0 .33 1.0 2.8 .9 6.0


Marcus Banks
After Mark Blount, Marcus' play this season causes the most debate/heartache for Celtics fans. At this point Marcus has 129 games under his belt with an average of 16.1 minutes per. That's a total of just about 2,100 minutes total. For comparative purposes, Paul has played about 1,800 minutes just this season. What this all means is that Marcus realistically is still a baby in NBA terms and his uneven play should be expected. The obvious pro to Marcus is his unbelievable quickness. On the con side there are a couple of things Marcus will need to improve upon to become a solid starter in the league. For example, his jump shot is less than impressive (although his 3p% is up big this year), his decision making both with the pass and drive wanes from game to game and his overall leadership of the team while on the floor is lacking for a PG. However, if we learned anything from the Billups trade is that it takes some time for PGs to develop in the NBA - its a very difficult position. The numbers are what they are, but Marcus has the potential to be much better - its all up to him now.

MIN FG% FT% STL BLK TO REB AST PTS
14 40% 76% .75 .12 1.0 1.5 1.7 5.1

Kendrick Perkins
After barely seeing the court last year Perk has certainly made himself known to Celtics fans this year. The time he spent in the weight room has paid off with a bonafide NBA power player body, and anecdotes that he is one of the strongest guys in the league. On the court Perk is rapidly developing the reputation as the C's enforcer for his physical play and punishing fouls. While he continues to have some brainfarts from time to time on defense, the real positive about this kid is you can visibly see the learning process on the court. Perk had a break through game against the Knicks in late December and since then has earned fairly consistent floor time. Kendrick brings a toughness in the paint that this team has been lacking for a long time. He isn't as athletically gifted as some of the other high schoolers who have stuck in the league, but should he continue his progression there is no question that Perk could have a very nice NBA career as a solid role player. He certainly seems to have the attitude to succeed. While his numbers aren't going to get #43 up in the rafters anytime soon, he is a rebounding machine when he gets consistent playing time.

MIN FG% FT% STL BLK TO REB AST PTS
9 44% 57% .2 .65 .70 2.6 .4 2.2


Delonte West
DA seems to have found another steal here at #24 in the draft. Really it should be no surprise that guys like Delonte and Tony who succeeded at the highest levels of NCAA ball should be able to play in the pros. Unfortunately, Delonte has had some bad injury luck this season and is only now getting on the floor. From his posts in his rookie diary he sounds like a funny kid who is dying for an opportunity to succeed on the court. Grande also indicated that he is probably the funniest guy on the team, which is a great attribute for a PG to have. On the court, there isn't much real NBA experience to look at. Last nights game against the Clips, Delonte had what Doc termed a dominating 11 minutes. Hopefully that burn will be the start of good things to come for DW. The book on Delonte is a high bball IQ, good shooting and solid defense. He didn't play the 1 sport at St.Joes since Jameer Nelson was already there, but West seems to have the attributes to make the transition to the PG.

MIN FG% FT% STL BLK TO REB AST PTS
8 44% 67% .00 .30 .30 1.1 1 2.6

Justin Reed
Reed is a 2 year minimum contract gamble Danny took on a 2nd round pick. Justin has a total of 32 minutes of game experience under his belt after a nice 4yr college career at Ole Miss. Justin is a bit of a tweener with his post skills but swing size, so it remains to be seen if he can excel at the NBA level. The few media reports on Reed indicate that he is working hard in practice and seems to fit in well with the rest of the young guys. Who knows, maybe Danny found a diamond in the rough with the 43rd pick? Now that he has been activated after the Waltah trade, we will be able to get a better feel for him. I won't bother with his stats as he hasn't even played a full games worth of minutes yet.

With this crop of young guys (+ Jiri and his 168 games of NBA experience) the future certainly looks brighter for this team than it has in a long time. Danny seems to be facilitating his vision for the team on building through the draft. Thus far, it seems that DA is a decent judge of talent, which bodes well for the two 1st round picks (and two 2nd round picks) the Celtics hold for the coming draft. The 17th banner may be just a bit further down the road for Celtics Nation.....

Again for some additional stats on these guys check out the Celtics page and 82games.com

# posted by Green17 @ 2/10/2005 01:20:00 PM - Message Board

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