The Boston Celtics continue to lead the way in the Eastern Conference for good reason, the 2008 NBA Champions are quick to address issues.
Despite ending last year’s regular season as Conference leaders the team fell quite meekly to Cleveland Cavaliers. Top of the issues that plagued Boston was the team’s poor rebounding numbers.
Signing Daniel Theis and Aron Baynes has helped Boston improve in the department from 26th last season to 10th little over half way through the season. Through 52 games played in the current campaign, Boston has issues scoring when main creator Kyrie Irving goes to the bench.
Acting swiftly, Boston outbid New Orleans Pelicans to sign Greg Monroe who was bought out of his contract by Phoenix Suns. During his two and a quarter year stay with Milwaukee Bucks, Monroe emerged as a Sixth Man of the Year candidate thanks in large part to his 11.7 points and 6.6 rebounds off the bench.
With Monroe on board, the second unit has a dependable scorer whose defense will be covered by Theis and Baynes strong presence in that area making him a perfect fit for Boston.
The team is aiming at toppling Cleveland in the postseason and the addition of Moose gets them closer. However, other contenders in the conference are yet to strike out trades to give them an edge.
The Bucks ranked dead last in the league last season in rebounding and the situation has yet to improve this season. Despite having one of the tallest groups in the league, Milwaukee are poor rebounding the ball consistently missing out on second chance scoring opportunities on the offensive end. The man responsible for transforming Giannis Antetokounmpo into a modern day Magic Johnson, Jason Kidd, has been fired after failing to develop a talented group to true Conference title contenders. Joe Prunty is in the hot seat now and needs to address this issue quickly before the trade deadline shuts on February 8.
A prime trade target is Cleveland Cavaliers Forward Kevin Love. Out for the next six weeks due to a broken hand injury, this is the best time to nab one of the league’s best rebounders and shooters. The former Minnesota Timberwolves man’s inside-outside combination is needed in Milwaukee as the team’s distinct lack of shooters crumbs up its offense. He is averaging 9.4 rebounds this season which will come in handy in Wisconsin and 17.9 points alongside Antetokounmpo, Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton will definitely make a lot of noise. Thanks to the presence of strong defenders, Love’s defensive lapses will be tapered nicely.
The Cavs defense is in shambles again as the team heads to the All Star Break in need of a break from camp as frustrating losses continue to pile up. Cleveland’s defense is ranked 26th and needs as much help as possible; step in Los Angeles Clippers Center DeAndre Jordan. Following the trade of Blake Griffin to Detroit Pistons, Clippers have embraced the rebuilding process meaning top performers Jordan and Lou Williams are up next to being traded.
In need of parts to build for the future, Cavaliers have attractive assets to make a trade possible with Clippers. Getting Jordan is vital to the hopes of a deep postseason run as DeAndre is averaging 14.9 rebounds this season. His 11.8 points per game isn’t a bad addition to a Cavs team struggling to get points and rebounds from Tristan Thompson. Jordan’s offensive struggles aside finishing alley oops and dunking the ball will not be an issue when surrounded by LeBron James and Isaiah Thomas.
The Wizards are down an All Star following John Wall’s knee injury that is set to have him miss games for the next two months. Thankfully the team has Bradley Beal whose outside shooting threat is enough to steady the boat till the return of Wall. Beal has developed his game over the years and rightly so will feature in Los Angeles in the All Star a year after getting snubbed. In the past three seasons, Washington has made it to the second round of the playoffs but not beyond it. With the team set to pay at least $25 million each to Wall, Beal and Otto Porter Jnr, in the next four seasons, making the second round does not justify the huge wage bill.
Speaking of money justification, Washington Centers Ian Mahinmi and Marcin Gortat are on the wrong side of this argument as neither player is playing well to justify getting paid $16 million and $12 million respectively. On the other hand, Marc Gasol’s talent is getting wasted out in Memphis where the Grizzlies once promising season is heading to the NBA Draft following a season ending injury to Mike Conley and David Fitzdale’s mistimed sack. With an annual salary of $22 and $24 million for the next two seasons, Gasol is top value for money as the Spaniard is averaging 18 points and 8.6 rebounds this season. Clearing Gortat and Mahinmi off the books opens up a spot for Washington to have four attacking threats to make a run at the Conference title.
By Yaw Adjei-Mintah
@YawMintYM on Twitter