Quick – Who is the most indispensable player on the current Boston Celtics roster? Rajon Rondo? Hard to argue with that – it’s hard to imagine where the C’s would be without Rondo running the show. Kevin Garnett? KG has been both re-branded and reborn as the Celtics’ starting center, something he initially resisted but has come to embrace with a passion that is the essence of Boston’s ultimate team player. Paul Pierce? Pierce started the season slowly, but his game as come around. He’s been steady more often than not, and on occasion has been downright spectacular. Avery Bradley? AB has really come into his own, first filling in for Rondo and then for Ray Allen, and in the process has made both Doc and Danny look like geniuses.
But if you ask me, the one player on the roster that may be the most indispensable is Greg Stiemsma. And with the playoffs looming, having a player like Stiemsma on the roster is the only thing that really gives the Celtics a fighting chance on the boards. With no Stiemsma, the only true bigs to see playing time would be KG and Ryan Hollins. (Barring Ainge signing a stiff out of the D-League or off the street.)
Stiemsma is limited, sure, but he is active and he alters shots. He isn’t afraid to challenge offensive players and make them think before they act. With no Stiemsma on the roster, everything changes. There is no Jermaine O’Neal. There is no Chris Wilcox. It’s Hollins, who hasn’t seen much action since signing with the team, or it’s the rook from Purdue. And despite his upside, JaJuan Johnson isn’t going to help this team come playoff time. Maybe down the road, but not this season.
Which brings us back to Stiemsma. He’s our only solid big aside from KG, and you know he’s going to get more minutes as the season wears on. And you’ve got to respect a guy who has taken such a circuitous route to the NBA, and who has worked so hard to get to where he is. Stiemsma is Andrei Kirilenko with more length and less game – in short, a poor man’s version of the Russian shot-blocker.
And because the Celtics are so thin along the font line, Stiemsma is absolutely vital to any chances the Celtics have of making a deep playoff run. He gives KG a chance to rest, and he gives the Celtics at least some semblance of depth at the four and five spots.
So, in terms of being purely the most indispensable player on the Celtics roster, my vote goes to Greg Stiemsma.