Who could be Celtics' MVP?
Who could be Celtics' MVP?
By A. Sherrod Blakely
CSNNE.com Celtics Insider
BOSTON – One of Minnesota Timberwolves president/head coach Flip Saunders’ favorite Flip-isms is “a player’s greatest strength is often his greatest weakness.”
That same theory applies to teams which is why the Celtics’ balanced roster is both a blessing and a burden in their quest to build off of last season’s strong finish.
Because there is so much parity within Boston’s locker room, finding a standout with any level of consistency is easier said than done.
But there will be a player or two whose performance this season will be team-MVP worthy.
So who will it be?
Here’s a look at the three players who go into training camp with the best chance at being the Celtics’ MVP this season:
3. David Lee
He’s the only player on this roster who at some point in his career was viewed as one of the game’s best. The 6-foot-10 forward/center has been selected to not one, but two, All-Star teams. He has the kind of experience that will benefit both his game and the Celtics this season. And while his body didn’t endure the kind of wear and tear last season that it is usually subjected to, there’s still no true feel for how much game Lee, 32, still has left in him. If he can produce at a level similar to what he did two years ago (18 points, 9.3 rebounds) which is the last season he played consistent minutes as a starter, the Celtics will be a playoff team and much of the credit for the team’s success will deservedly go to Lee.
2. Jae Crowder
Crowder is one of those players whose numbers will never do justice to the impact he can make on games. At 6-foot-6, Crowder has shown a willingness and ability to defend all three frontcourt positions as well as perimeter players when switched out on them in pick and rolls. While all that is important to success, it takes more than a few defensive stops and rebounds to become your team’s most valuable player. You love Crowder’s leadership potential and his gritty, tough-guy DNA. But his offensive shortcomings more than anything else, will keep him locked into the role of being an important cog in the machine but by no means the engine that keeps it going. And that’s OK. Who knows; Crowder could develop into a reliable shooter to go with all those defensive talents he possesses. He’s a good player, an important player to this team’s success. But a team-MVP? Probably not.
1. Isaiah Thomas
The odds of Thomas leading the Celtics in scoring again are very high. But that alone doesn’t make him a team MVP.
Most of Thomas’ contributions will come at the offensive end of the floor, but he must continue to build off the strides he made last season as a defender.
His defensive numbers weren’t too shabby in the 21 games he played in Boston last season. In fact, Thomas’ defensive rating of 101.9 was better than a number of highly regarded defenders for the Celtics like Jae Crowder (102.2) and Avery Bradley (102.5) and just behind Marcus Smart (101.3). He’s a feisty competitor who plays with a chip on his shoulder at all times. And to his credit, he tends to surround himself with like-minded tough guys which includes Floyd Mayweather Jr., the world’s best fighter pound-for-pound.
We talk a lot about Thomas’ scoring and for good reason. He’s really good at getting points. In four seasons, the 60th (and last) pick in the 2011 draft has averaged 15.6 points and 4.7 assists in 283 NBA games.
But the one thing that flies below the radar when discussing Thomas is his athleticism which allows him to make big plays in a multitude of ways, like blocking an attempted dunk by Houston’s Trevor Ariza in a Seattle Pro-Am recently.
Regardless, Thomas has a very specific role on this team which is to get buckets whether it be starting (his preference) or coming off the bench and play starter-like minutes (which he will do if he’s not starting). Doing so would further the narrative that Thomas is wanting, which is to be the best player on the Celtics team. A breakout season along with more wins would do it and thus make him an easy choice for the team’s MVP.