With 17 championships, the Boston Celtics are one of the most storied franchises in sports history. They have seen their fair share of superstars come around over the span of seven decades. In the previous article, we formed an all-time Celtics team. Now, we will combine all the generation Celtic talent to make the perfect Boston Celtics Basketball player! To qualify, a player has to have played a season with the Celtics.
Height: Tacko Fall
Is this even a question? No it is not. Other categories you need to take many factors into account. For height, it boils down to who is the tallest. Tacko Fall is seven-foot-five. He is the 8th tallest player in NBA history and the tallest active player. This year they implemented a rule that players’ heights would be measured without shoes. Given that every other player was measured with shoes on, it is possible that Tacko is the tallest player ever. He has only played 24 minutes in the NBA, but that is enough for him to qualify and allow our perfect Celtics player to be seven-foot-five.
Speed/Quickness: Rajon Rondo
Much like height, speed is pretty straightforward: who is the fastest? The most likely answer is that John Wall or Russell Westbrook are the fastest NBA players ever. Right behind them, is Rajon Rondo. Rondo spent nine years in Boston, where he drew oohs and aahs from Boston fans due to his lightning fast speed. Rondo claims that he can run the 40 yard dash in the same time that he went coast to coast for a layup against the Jazz in 2009, 3.8 seconds. To put this into perspective, John Ross has the fastest 40-yard-dash time in NFL history at 4.22 seconds. If Rondo is telling the truth, this would make him a whole 0.42 seconds faster than Ross. Even if it is not true, Rondo is clearly somewhere near this mark.
Strength: Shaquille O’Neal
Shaquille O’Neal is widely regarded as the most dominant center of all-time. This was because of one simple fact: he was strong. In his days with the Lakers he made other elite centers like David Robinson and Yao Ming look weak. Now Shaq only spent one year in Boston, in fact his last season. He was nowhere near as dominant as his Magic and Lakers days. That being said, he weighed 340 pounds and could still bully most players in the paint.
Shot: Ray Allen
When you talk about the greatest shooters of all-time, the first three names that most any NBA fan says are: Steph Curry, Reggie Miller and Ray Allen. In five seasons wearing the Celtic green, Allen averaged 2.2 threes a game while shooting 41% from three. His most memorable moment as a Celtic comes in game seven of the 2010 NBA finals, where he hit his first seven threes and broke the NBA record for most threes in a finals game.
The one knack on Allen’s shooting is his lack of being able to create for himself. In his time with Boston, over 90% of his made threes game came off of assists. The good part is that our perfect Celtics player will have the tools to create that Allen lacked throughout his career. He will be a foot taller and able to shoot over anyone.
Inside Scoring: Kevin McHale
Kevin McHale is up there with Hakeem Olajuwon as the most skilled post players of all-time. McHale had a grab bag of drop steps, pump fakes, head fakes, baby jump hooks, shovel shots and fadeaways that confounded even the best defenders. Kevin had no preferred spot, he could score from anywhere. He could start on either the right or left box. Or he could set-up either 15 feet or five feet from the basket. He could take the turnaround from either the baseline or the top of the key. McHale could adapt to the defender and release his shot from numerous angles. Against a longer defender, he could rise up and shoot over them. If his defender was playing him tight, Kevin could go under them and take a shovel shot. He was truly the most versatile post player ever.
Our player will have all the moves and tricks of McHale, but will be able to get a shot off much easier. The height will allow him to shoot over anyone. The strength will allow him to push defenders around. The quickness will allow him to get to his spot quicker. Our perfect Celtics player will not have an amazing post game like McHale did, but an unstoppable one!
Playmaking: Larry Bird
A three time NBA champion and MVP winner Larry Bird is one of the most accomplished players in NBA history. Bird averaged 24.3 points and 10.0 rebounds throughout his career, while also being the first great three-point shooter. The most underrated aspect of Bird’s game is his playmaking ability. Larry Legend averaged 6.3 assists throughout his 13 years in Boston. His 5695 career assists ranks 3rd all-time among forwards, only behind LeBron James and Scottie Pippen. Bird had phenomenal court vision and an amazing IQ. He didn’t just make a good pass, he made the right pass. If Dennis Johnson was open for three, Bird would make sure he would pass it to Johnson’s right hip, allowing DJ to get his shot off quicker.
Given that our player is seven-foot-five, he will have the ability to see the floor even better than Larry. Since he will likely draw double teams in the post, it will make it even easier to find the open man. He will also have lightning quick speed, which will allow him to get past defenders with ease. Once he is going downhill, defenders will be forced to help, which will create open shots for our players teammates.
Rebounding: Dave Cowens
Considering our player will be seven-foot-five, it takes away from some of the importance of rebounding. I mean any player who is seven-foot-five will be a dominant rebounder, right? The answer is yes. You could make the case to put John Havlicek here because he averaged 6.3 rebounds in his career despite being only six-foot-five. However, that seems a bit cheap, so we will just stick to pure rebounding, disregarding the height change.
Bill Russell is obviously the greatest Celtic rebounder of all-time, considering he averaged 22.9 in his career. Bill Russell’s talents are needed elsewhere, so we have to look for the next best option. That would be Dave Cowens. Cowens averaged 14.0 rebounds over his 10 years with the Celtics. His timing on jumps was perfection, and he could really get up there. He wanted every missed shot and fought for them. He will now be eight inches taller, 110 pounds heavier and much quicker. This combination makes for pure dominance on the glass.
Perimeter Defense: John Havlicek
Havlicek stole the ball! It’s all over, it’s all over! John Havlicek was responsible for one of the greatest calls in NBA history, stealing the ball in the 1965 Eastern Conference Finals to send the Celtics to the NBA finals. The six-foot-five wing known as Hondo is most remembered for stealing the ball, being the greatest 6th man of all-time and scoring the most points in Celtics history. However, Hondo was much more than this. Havlicek was a lockdown defender, being able to guard every position except center. Hondo was usually given the assignment of guarding the opposing team’s best player, which he did phenomenally. Havlicek made five All-Defensive First Teams and three All-Defensive Second Teams. It’s also worth noting that he had already played six seasons before the NBA created All-Defensive Team awards. The NBA didn’t record steals and blocks as a stat until 1973-1974, so Havlicek didn’t have gaudy numbers in those departments. Nevertheless, he ranks 12th all-time in Defensive Win Shares with 74.09.
Interior Defense: Bill Russell
Bill Russell is not just the greatest defender in Celtics history, but arguably the greatest defender to ever play the game. Blocked shots were not recorded in Russell’s playing career, however, it is rumored that he averaged anywhere from 7-11 blocks per game. The most impressive part, when he blocked the shot, the Celtics would gain possession since he would tip the ball to his teammate or to himself. Celtics defenders began to gamble on the perimeter or funnel their men towards Russell knowing he would be able to block or alter the shot. The way he would swoop across the lane like an eagle to block the shot was majestic, like nothing seen in the modern game.
The one defensive stat around during his career that can back up Russell’s greatness, is Defensive Win Shares. Russell led the league in this category 11 out of his 13 years and has the most Defensive Win Shares in NBA history! Now imagine Bill Russell, but seven inches taller, stronger and much faster. You just imagined our perfect Celtics player. Will anybody be able to score on him inside?
Intangibles: Dennis Johnson
For those who do not know what intangibles mean, it is basically a player’s impact beyond the stats sheet: hustle, IQ, clutchness, teammate. Dennis Johnson fits this description perfectly.
He made nine All-Defensive teams because he would dive on the floor for loose balls and guard his man all 93 feet. Magic Johnson called him “the best backcourt defender of all time.” Bill Laimbeer said he “played with passion and grit”, a huge compliment coming from a member of the “Bad Boys”.
He had an impressive basketball IQ, always knowing the right plays to make and where to be. Larry Bird said, “He’s as smart a basketball player as anyone I’ve ever played with”.
DJ had numerous clutch moments: locking up Magic in the 1984 finals, hitting a buzzer beater in the 1985 finals, and making the game-winning basket after Bird stole the ball in the 1987 ECF.
Being on a Celtics team with three Hall of Famers, he took a backseat and adjusted his game with incredible ease. Larry Bird called not Kevin McHale or Robert Parish, but Dennis Johnson the best teammate he ever had.
Let us know below what you would change about the Perfect Boston Celtics player!
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