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Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Gomes Saga


So let's recap how the 2005 NBA draft went. It's a league-wide consensus that the Celtics had the best draft of any team in the league. Gerald Green is considered to have slipped way too far in the draft and was a steal at pick 18. Ryan Gomes, our subject here, was considered a first round talent by some, yet fell all the way to 50. Orien Greene has stabilized the backup point spot in Boston, but wasn't highly regarded going into the draft either. Let's dig deeper.

Gomes was a 4 year star at PC, mature, all-time leading Friars scorer, and had a true understanding of the game. The knocks against him? You could watch as he sometimes would seem disinterested on the court, failing to get back on defense or taking lazy shots on offense. Maybe it was because he was that much better than every player in the Big East, but it's no excuse. Gomes dominated Emeka Okeafor twice and Hakim Warrick regularly. He was a double-double every night and saved his best performances for the bigger games. He's one of only 6 players in Big East history to score 2,000 points and have 1,000 rebounds. Yet, when draft night came, Gomes continued to slip behind players he was better than. Obviously, this happens all the time. I mean, the Celtics drafted Joe Forte over Tony Parker. People make mistakes. But, it's uncanny how the college senior has become more and more undervalued and underappreciated in today's NBA. Here are some of the players taken ahead of Gomes: Martell Webster (HS), Jaroslav Korolev (For.), Hakim Warrick (no one will convince me based on his lack of jump shot and marginal defensive ability since all he was in college was a weakside shot blocker that he was worth a pick at #19), Fran Vazquez (For.), Antoine Wright (Tex A&M), Francisco Garcia (Louisville), Julius Hodge (NC St.), Johan Petro (For.), Jason Maxiell (Cinci.), Linas Kleiza (Mizzou), Ian Mahinimi (For.), Wayne Simien (Kansas). And that's just round 1. Round 2 included Ronny Turiaf (Gonzaga, heart condition), Daniel Ewing, Bracey Wright, Travis Diener, 3 High Schoolers, and a few foreigners.

The Celtics have seen Gomes take over in the last four games, culminating in his first career double-double last night. He has admirably stepped in to the depleted front court and has continued to excel taking the mid-range jump shot we witnessed at the Dunk. He has a nose for rebounds, even though he's not a great leaper. Gomes has worked hard and even was second to Pierce in minutes against Utah. Almost overnight, the team has realized they have quite a player in Gomes. Something every Friar fan knew. Some say he didn't quite have a position, but he's turning into a good rotation guy that will certainly be effective in spelling the starters at the 3 spot. He might not be quick, but he's smart and knows how to play the game. Ainge even admitted they knew they were getting this in Gomes.

Inexplicably, he buried Gomes on the bench behind Reed, Scalabrine, and the towel boy for half the season. Tony Allen came back and Gomes spend 15-20 games being deactivated. It's decisions like this that have you questioning Celtics leadership. If you know that this is the kind of player you have on your hands, then why do you put players who are obviously less skilled in front of them? Justin Reed doesn't belong on most NBA rosters. Scalabrine should stick to being Michael Rapaport's stunt double because he looks lost on an NBA floor. Ainge claiming he knew the skills he had exacerbates the situation. He sees practices, he knows the players. Why force/allow Doc to bury a guy like this when you know he could be helping your team. The Celtics weren't going anywhere this year to begin with, and claiming those other players actually gave you a better chance to win is ludicrous.

But Gomes seems to naturally belong on the floor, complementing the other Celtics well and understanding what his role is. He may never be a star, but he's certainly in most teams 7-man rotation and should have a successful pro career doing that. You can't tell me Seattle wouldn't rather have his help off the bench than a foreign swing man that won't come over to play for them. The same is true in Orlando. What about Memphis? Would they rather have Warrick who is averaging just a hair under 2 points a game and has no discernible skill outside of leaping ability? Check out 82games.com for some comparisons. Fun site if you're a stat nut. The list goes on. Friar fans have enjoyed this quick little run Gomes has put together and we can only hope that when Jefferson and Perkins come back there is still room for Gomes to make the contribution that he has off the bench and that Scalabrine will be relegated to 12th man in.

1 Comments:

Blogger The Iconoclast said...

Great post.

Watching Gomes burst the last 2 weeks or so has been fantastic. There aren't too many "dirty work" guys on the C's roster and he fits the bill on that front.

I do think that he has the ability to be more than a 6th or 7th man, however. As I've said over at the Pancake Breakfast, I think that he has the potential to be a borderline all-star (within the next three years). He's been wildly efficient during this stretch where he's been starting and I think that once he starts to get more assertive on the offensive end, he has the ability to really hurt some teams.

Highlight of the Lakers-C's game had to be Gomes man-handling of Kwame Brown. Got Gomes some love over on ESPN.com too.

4:12 PM  

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