Now that the All Star game is in the books, it is time to look forward to the rest of the season. Celtics fans are divided into 2 camps: Tank for the first pick and play hard and win all we can. Both sides have their good points but I think the Celtics are going to choose the latter, which may cost us a few ping pong balls in the chase for Oden or Durant, but in my opinion it is the better course.
First, there is some question as to whether Oden or Durant will come out this season. I heard an interview with Oden over the weekend and he was saying that because of the injury to his wrist he hasn't reached the top of his game this season and he doesn't want to leave college until he is sure he will be an impact player in the NBA. Durant's father is saying he may stay in school. Granted, both will probably come out but it may be the competition between the two that keeps at least one of them in school until he will be the consensus first pick.
Second, the lottery is such a fickle thing. We tanked one year when we had 2 lottery picks and ended up with the 3rd and 6th picks even though we had the most pingpong balls in the hopper. Only 3 teams with the worst record have won the lotter since 1991. Sure it would appear that we would be due but I imagine the other teams with the worst record every year thought the same thing. The fact is that we could get the 3rd pick with the worst record or the first pick with the best record in the lottery. There are no guarantees.
There are benefits to trying to win and actually winning. We have so many young players who are improving and are starting to show actual basketball talent rather than just potential. They learn to win by winning. They will never, as a team, learn to win and develop a winning attitude by losing games. The more we win, the more confidence these young players will play and the better they will get.
This is a deep draft and we are likely to get a very good player even if we don't pick first or second. It may not be an impact player like Oden or Durant, but then again, it may be. Gilbert Arenas was picked 31st, Paul Pierce was picked 10th, Dwayne Wade was picked 5th. Michael Jordan was picked 3rd. Chauncey Billups was a 3rd pick of the Celtics and if they had kept him, things may be different today. If Oden and/or Durant do stay in school, most of the other players at the top are on a fairly even footing.
We aren't going to play ourselves out of the lottery and even with fewer ping pong balls we still have a chance at the top pick. Since 1991, four teams with the 3rd worst record have won the lottery and Orlando even won it with the 11th worst record. Losing every game from now to the end of the season won't guarantee us the first or even the second pick. But losing every game would guarantee that the confidence of every one of these young players would be at an all time low and may never recover.
So now we move on to the rest of the season. I don't see any of our players giving less than 100% any night that they are healthy and even then some of them give their all when they are playing in pain. Of course, our best chance to keep losing is that Doc will be our coach until the end of the season. No matter what happens between now and season end, I have high hopes for next season. Gerald Green will have renewed confidence after winning the dunk contest. Al is only going to get better. Perk's foot will heal and he will finally show what he is capable of. Rondo is going to be a top PG. Tony is going to come back and pick up where he left off. Gomes and West are going to be solid players. And we will get a very good player in the draft, even if it isn't Oden or Durant. And most of all, hopefully we will have a new coach who feels that defense is important and knows how to coach a running team.