The Celtics bench has totally been re-tooled. The only returning players are Marquis Daniels (who missed half the season after his injury), Avery Bradley (who barely played last year), and Sasha Pavlovic (who is returning in only the strictest sense of the term).
We touched on the bench in the Dump, noting how awful Marquis Daniels has been. And there's no getting around it right now, he's been bad. But so has everyone else not named Brandon Bass. Marquis, though, came in with different exectations. His aggressiveness in the two-game pre-season was very encouraging. Granted, it came against a bad Raptors team, but the effort made us feel good about what he was going to give.
And there's no doubt Marquis has something to give. But he's like drilling for oil right now. We've got to find just the right spot for him so we can tap that well of talent he has in there. There's no doubt it exists. We just have to find it. Right now, the best way to find it is to run.
Quis has taken 48 shots this season. He's missed 35 of them. But according to Synergy Sports, Marquis Daniels is shooting 60% in transition. It's hard not to shoot well in transition. You're typically going against defenders who are on their heels and confused. And Marquis is a pretty good finisher on the break. So it's time to get him out there and running if we're going to strike oil.
It starts, as we've said a million time here, with the rebounding. And Chris Wilcox is the key. According to basketball-reference, his defensive rebounding rate is at its second lowest point in 8 years. Right now, the sample size is small, so there's still obviously plenty of time to turn this around. Even if he gets it up to where he was last year, just about 23%, it will help.
If the second unit frontcourt of Brandon Bass and Chris Wilcox can combine to grab about 45% of available defensive rebounds when they're in the game (as opposed to the combined 39%) that leads to more opportunities to get out in transition… and more opportunities for Marquis Daniels to fill a lane and get some easy baskets. Once a few easy baskets go in, then the rest of Quis' offense can fall in line.
I'm not making any new or groundbreaking points here. This is, in all actuality, basketball 101. This is something a high school coach will tell his team. But I'm highlighting these things simply to show that the answers for the struggles aren't hard to find. The answers for the bench's problems don't just fall into lack of familiarity or lack of practice time or any abstract concept fueled by overanalysis.
The answers for the bench's struggles, and Marquis' struggles in particular, lie in a return to the fundamentals. They lie in stripping the notion of trying to do too much from everyone's minds and returning to Keep It Simple Stupid approach.
Just do your jobs, Celtics reserves. If Wilcox and Bass (Wilcox in particular) just hit the defensive glass, if Keyon Dooling just pushes the temp, and if Marqis Daniels just fills the lanes, the baskets will come easier. The scoring will flow. And the starters can sit for a few extra minutes.
These players are capable of doing this. If they weren't, then we'd have to start coming up with schemes and gimmicks to get guys going. But defenders and rebounders exist. Distributors and finishers exist. The puzzle pieces to make the complete picture are there. If they simply do their jobs, we'll see how easily those pieces fit.