When you think about who might be the biggest threat to the Celtics… you might be tempted to say Cleveland or Detroit. But we might want to focus a little more within the division…
Like… on Philadelphia and Toronto.
Toronto's front court just got a little more menacing with the addition of Jermaine O'Neal. He's no longer offensive option #1… which means he can focus more on being a defender and rebounder. It also means he doesn't have to work as hard on one end of the floor… which can preserve him as he gets older and more injury-prone.
Philadelphia made the biggest splash of the off-season by stealing Elton Brand… who is still an elite power forward. Meanwhile, Samuel Dalembert grew into the role he was always supposed to fill… a rebounding shot-blocker that protects the basket and who only scores on put-backs and alley oops.
And as much as we love the guys on our front court… the fact remains that Kendrick Perkins is still foul and injury prone… and bigger guys can get over the top of Leon/Big Baby. So in this suddenly competitive Atlantic Division… Patrick O'Bryant might be the key to keeping these upstart teams at bay.
I'm not asking the world of Patrick O'Bryant (we need a nick name for this guy… quick). But I know that guys like O'Neal and Brand are very much good enough to get Perk in to foul trouble… which to me is much more worrisome than his shoulder. And yes, KG will be handling his business in the paint as usual… we've seen how much more effective he can be with a partner in crime back there to help him out.
Perk is definitely the guy at the … and all this talk about how important O'Bryant can be will go away if Perk can keep his fouls in check. But until Perk proves that he can do that… the job of banging down low and helping KG might just fall on O'Bryant.
Here's hoping that Clifford Ray can work his magic again.