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The Celtics receive plenty of attention for their star-studded starting lineup, but Bulls coach Jim Boylen, for one, has taken notice of the size and strength of their reinforcements, too.
“Their second unit with [Brad] Wanamaker and [Enes] Kanter, it’s like two football players playing basketball,” Boylen said Saturday, before the Bulls lost to the Celtics, 111-104. “It’s a strength of theirs, the way they can bounce you around.”
All season long a couple of strengths for the Celtics have been the backup point guard position and bench bigs. Enes Kanter has been able to knock guys around down low while Brad Wanamaker has carved himself a nice little role with the second unit. With the departure of Terry Rozier and the Celtics’ reluctance to sign a new backup point guard, there were questions if Wanamaker could indeed be the answer. So far this season he’s answered the bell in a big way.
In 18.9 minutes per game he’s averaged 6.6 ppg 2.1 rpg and 2.8 apg on 44/34.1/90 shooting splits. He’s been so steady and whenever he makes his way onto the court you know what you’re going to get out of him. After spending years overseas he’s developed this grit and grime to his game that really fits in nicely off the Celtic bench. With the build of a pitbull and the heart of a lion he’s been exactly what the doctor ordered. He isn’t scared of anything and he’s able to overpower opposing backups while making his mark on both ends. Not only has he been solid running the show but he also sports a 98.5 defensive rating coupled with an overall net rating of 8.0. The Celtics perform when he’s on the court and it’s no secret the effect he’s had this season.
Brad Stevens: “Brad’s play has been a big reason we’re where we are. Our top five guys get a lot of attention, and rightfully so. They’ve done an unbelievable job. But other guys have stepped up and Brad’s at the top of that list.”
As far as things go with Enes Kanter, it’s been business as usual. The big man had 17 points and 12 rebounds last night in what has became more of the norm over the last couple of weeks.
While on the season Kanter averages 9.1 ppg and 8.0 rpg, since Christmas he’s averaged 13.5 ppg 10.5 rpg and 2 BLOCKS per game. He’s stepped his game up on both ends and has been able to tee-off on opposing benches.
“When Kanter’s down there he’s able to finish through contact, he’s able to draw fouls, he’s able to do those types of things,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens said. “Brad is one of those big, strong guards. As the league’s gotten bigger at that spot, you have to be able to take some of those hits as you’re driving, whether it’s against a big or whether it’s against a guy trailing you off a pick.
It remains to be see seen how Kanter will fare down the stretch against some of the league’s best, but for now, he’s hit a sweet spot. It couldn’t have come at a better time as the Celtics are still down both Robert Williams and Vincent Poirier up front. They’ve needed a big to step up and Kanter has more than filled the void. If he can develop a bit of playmaking out of the post (he misses a ton of cutters) he might even prove himself to be more valuable.
Who knows if the Celtics will look to bolster their front lines at the trade deadline, but for now, we’re going to keep on playing Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots with the likes of Wanamaker and Kanter off the bench.
Page 2: Where the Celtics (probably) won’t be trading for Andre Drummond
Even though the Celtics sit at 25-8 and seem poised to have a top record in the league, it’s natural to speculate if Danny Ainge could make this team any better. After a brutal start to the season, it looks like the Detroit Pistons are looking to move on from Andre Drummond. As someone who’s given the Celtics fits for years at a position where this team isn’t as deep, it’s an interesting proposition. While interesting, it also is unlikely.
Drummond is one of the highest-paid players in the league, making a hefty $27.1 million this season at age 26. He has a player option for next year for $28.7 million which he is using as leverage to get out of Detroit (threatening to opt out)…
The path here is very tough for Boston. Kemba Walker isn’t going anywhere. The same goes for Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum. The leaves the C’s with limited high salary options.
Gordon Hayward is the easiest match when it comes to money. He earns $32.7 million this year and has a player option for just over $34.1 million next season. While the C’s risk losing Hayward this offseason if he’s looking for a long-term payday, that feels like an unlikely scenario at this juncture…
Without touching Hayward, the only other way to make a move for Drummond would be decimating the C’s bench. Marcus Smart ($12.5 million) would be a starting point in terms of salary while Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier would lead to another $7.2 million. From there, the C’s would still have to find another few million dollars to throw in from their rookies or low roster pieces, which would be very tough to do without dismantling the bench.
As it’s been said in the past, any big moves they try to make will undoubtedly include parting with some of their best. As this team is rolling in the fashion that they are it’s hard to see them making a big splash, especially one as big as Andre Drummond.
THE REST OF THE LINKS
Mass Live: 7 things we learned from Bulls v Celtics
Boston Herald: Boylen loves Celtics’ physical defensive nature