We have had way more than our share of injuries this season. West was out in training camp and the beginning of the season with a variety of injuries from an infected toe to back problems. Now, after the bad fall last night, he may be out again. Theo Ratliff, who was to be our starting center and defensive stopper in the middle has played a total of 44 minutes this season due to a bulging disc in his back. Al Jefferson was out with appendicitis. Michael Olowokandi has been out with a muscle tear in an abdominal muscle. Wally was out with one sprained ankle and just came back when he sprained the other ankle. Perk has been out with plantar fasciitis. Scal has had the flu. An now, the iron man of the Celtics is out with a stress reaction in his foot.
It may seem that the Celtics have been cursed with one injury after another. But there is a silver lining and we don't have to look very far to find it. Last year, when Perk and Al both went down just as they were starting to get minutes after Blount was traded, Ryan Gomes emerged as a big surprise. He sat on the bench the entire first half of the season and then when Doc had no choice but to play him, he came through and proved to be a very valuable player.
With Perk out Al got the chance to start at center and he has made the most of it. He has been playing very well and is finally realizing the potential that we all saw in him in spurts. He has been averaging a double double and we see more confidence day by day. Even not feeling the best because of a cold, last night in Denver he had another double double with a career high 15 rebounds. But it took Perk being out for Al to get the minutes he needed to break out.
When Wally went down, Tony got a chance to start and he emerged to be close to the player he was before his knee injury. He filled the stat sheet last night with 18 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 blocked shots, and 2 steals in 16 minutes. Previously he got spot minutes and seemed to struggle. But when Wally was injured and he got the chance to start, he got regular minutes and produced.
Now, Pierce is out and Green is getting a chance to start and the minutes to develop. It seemed very improbable that Pierce would ever be out in that he has missed a total of 19 games in his career so far. But now he will be out for 2-3 weeks and Gerald will be getting a chance to show that he can do more than just dunk. I have a feeling that he is going to seize this chance and produce. It may even show Danny that Pierce could be expendable. But above all, Green is getting valuable minutes and experience that he wouldn't be able to get if Pierce wasn't injured.
So in spite of our 10-16 record our young players are getting experience that they wouldn't get if all was going smoothly. We need these young players to get minutes and to either reach their potential or to show us that they aren't going to be as good as we hoped. But they need minutes for that and they weren't going to get minutes with all of the veterans playing. It seems that Doc has to be forced to play his young players as he doesn't do it otherwise. Hopefully when all the players come back from injury we will know more of what we have in our young players.
So, there is a silver lining. We may have a losing record. We may not even be on the top of the Titanic division. But we are giving our young players valuable experience and if it wasn't for injuries last season, we may never have learned what Gomes could do. This year it may be Green, Al, or Perk who should get big minutes because of injuries to key veterans. Or it could be Rondo or Powe (if Doc would ever play them) who emerges because of the injuries. I can deal with the injuries and the resulting losing record in the present if it makes us a much better team in the future.
Totally agree. We need to get our young kids valuable learning experience. We are only stunting our growth by not playing them right now.
What good is it if next year, the kids are still under-deveoped because of lack of playing time right now? Pierce and Wally will be a year older and a year closer to retirement. At least if we develop the kids more this year, next season we'll be a stronger team.
It always seems as if the only time that Doc plays the kids are when his hand is forced due to injuries.
He HAS to play the kids. Look what it has done for Big Al alrady this season. Confidence is a big thing too. When the coach starts playing you and giving you minutes, it does "wonders" to players confidence.