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Layups: What If the 2011 Celtics Had a Time Machine?

Posted by Neil Paine on October 4, 2010

I somehow missed this the first time around, so consider this a Retro-Layup...

Even though they're a little creaky, and missing Kendrick Perkins, we can probably agree that the Boston Celtics are still going to be a decent basketball team this season. But over at Basketball Prospectus, Marc Normandin wondered what would happen if we transported the members of the 2011 Celtics back to their collective prime...

In other words, think about who is on the Celtics right now, and then think about who they used to be. Kevin Garnett was one of the greatest players of all time at his peak. Ditto Shaq. Ray Allen & Paul Pierce were "alpha dogs" of their own teams. Jermaine O'Neal was a stud big man (10.5 Win Shares in 2003). Heck, even Rasheed Wallace and Michael Finley, who are no longer Celtics but were at the time of Normandin's post, used to be stars. The only question is, has any veteran-laden team had more latent talent than this summer's Celtics (pre-Sheed/Finley departures)?

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14 Responses to “Layups: What If the 2011 Celtics Had a Time Machine?”

  1. AS Says:

    How about the 03-4 Lakers? Shaq, Kobe, Gary Payton, Karl Malone, Horace Grant. That's an unreal starting 5 if all those guys are in their prime.

  2. Neil Paine Says:

    Right, good call. The matchup between that team in their primes and the 2011 Celtics would be epic (in fact, Shaq would be represented twice).

  3. Jason J Says:

    If Shaq blocked Shaq at the rim, and one was wearing a Lakers jersey and the other was wearing a Celtics jersey, I'm it would cause a second big bang. That's called the Shaqfu Paradox.

  4. Chuck Says:

    The '77 Knicks immediately come to mind: an aging Walt Frazier and Earl Monroe, Bill Bradley in his final season, Bob McAdoo acquired midseason at the beginning of his lost wandering years, Jim McMillian, rookie Lonnie Shelton and the enigma that always was Spencer Haywood. Put them all together at the peak of their talents and add in the role players on that they had on that roster, like Butch Beard, Phil Jackson, Tom McMillen and Dean Meminger, and you've got a team that would at the very least do better than the Knicks actually did that year. They went 40-42 and missed the playoffs by three games. Oh, and they had a pretty good coach, too: Red Holzman.

    And imagine if Pete Maravich and Dave Cowens had not retired from the Celtics in 1980. The '81 Boston team would have had Bird, McHale, Parish, Tiny Archibald, Cowens, Pistol and Cornbread Maxwell. With Gerald Henderson and Chris Ford as the eighth and ninth men. Put everyone in their primes? Yowza!

  5. Jason J Says:

    How about the entirety of 1997?

    The 1996-97 Bulls would have benefited tremendously from a youthesization to Robert Parish, Michael Jordan, Ron Harper, Dennis Rodman, and even Pippen, who was in his prime but wracking up injuries. And they finished 1st overall as it was.

    The 1996-97 Rockets featured overthehill Hakeem, Barkley, and Drexler. Put those three back in 1990 shape and look out. They also had overthehill Kevin Willis, Eddie Johnson, and Sedale Threatt. Make the conference finals.

    The 1996-97 Knicks had overthehill Patrick Ewing, Charles Oakley, and Buck Williams along with post-injury Larry Johnson. Won 57 games.

    The 1996-97 Spus had overthehill Dominique, Mad Max, and Charles Smith along with a very injured David Robinson. Sucked out... I mean LUCKED out and won Tim Duncan.

    And those are the ones I remember.

  6. Luke M. Says:

    The '85-'86 Sixers spring to mind for me. Aging Dr. J, Moses, and Bob McAdoo, along with sophomore season for Barkley. It's the only time 4 MVPs (past or future) have ever been on the same roster.

  7. RobertAugustdeMeijer Says:

    2006 Heat
    -Shaq
    -Wade
    -Mourning
    -Payton
    -Derek Anderson (9.9 WS in 2001)
    -Udonis Haslem (9.2 WS in 2005)
    -Jason Williams

    oh nevermind, they had Antoine Walker...

  8. Max Says:

    2001 Trail Blazers would have the deepest 12 man roster for sure
    Greg Anthony
    Stacey Augmon
    Dale Davis
    Shawn Kemp
    Scottie Pippen
    Arvydas Sabonis
    Detlef Schrempf
    Steve Smith
    Damon Stoudamire
    Rod Strickland
    Rasheed Wallace
    Bonzi Wells

  9. P Middy Says:

    The time machine would also make them cowardly good-for-nothings who will never win a championship for playing together.

  10. Brian Says:

    '68 Lakers Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor, Jerry West

    We know that Wilt was the greatest scorer in NBA history. Elgin Baylor was the second best scorer in NBA history from 1960-62. Jerry West was one of the top ten and, if his one year of recorded steals stats is any indication, was one of the great ballhawks of all time as well.

    This group didn't set the NBA on its ear because Elgin Baylor was way past his prime in '68

  11. Mark Wylie Says:

    This is real similar to the work Dre did on his website Nerd Numbers

    http://nerdnumbers.wordpress.com/time-machine-teams/

    His finals came down to the 1986 76ers vs. the 1997 Rockets.

  12. RobertAugustdeMeijer Says:

    I must say Max, that 2001 Blazers team was indeed loaded with aging talent!

  13. Dre Says:

    I love this topic and glad to see it pop up here. I had missed this article the first time around as well. As Mark mentioned I did this experiment using the Wins Produced Metric. The 97 Bulls were the strongest by a hair over the 85-86 76ers. The Rockets with Charles, Hakeem and Pippen would have been amazingly strong as well. The 84 Lakers got upset in my simulated playoffs but were very good as well.

    Also this year's Celtics and Mavericks would have been amazing if they could have all their players in their prime.(I pulled them in lieu of an 80s Celtics team and the Mavericks didn't get in due to the fact I used championship teams/finals teams in the playoffs)

  14. dustin Says:

    how about the 87-88 celtics bird...mchale...parish..dj..ainge...jim paxson ...reggie lewis....artis gilmore in his final season and bill walton who technically was still on the roster and getting paid... not a bad big man rotation walton,gilmore,parish and mchale