The Boston Celtics are smaller than ever after trading big man Jason Collins and losing rebounder extraordinaire Jared Sullinger for the season. The small-ball formula continues to grow and progress, but there is still a need for some big contributions out of the few big bodies left on the roster.
Chris Wilcox is going to have the biggest opportunity of his 10-year career to step up when Kevin Garnett is off the floor. Last night, he showed some great strides in appearing as if he was in decent basketball shape and rhythm, which has always been his biggest issue. All is well and dandy when he gets into a rhythm, but he often has a very hard time sustaining his abilities and contributions. The Celtics need him to be great as often as possible.
It’s a lot to ask of Wilcox, but he displayed perseverance and grit last night filling in those extra minutes, as Doc Rivers made a coaching decision to sit Garnett for the first time this year.
His contributions and energy were positive signs of him maybe possibly finally putting together a semi-consistent season. In last night’s 113-88 win over the dismal Phoenix Suns, he put up 14 loud points along, while pulling down eight boards and one block in 22 minutes played.
Rivers and the rest of the Celtics organization has been longing and dreaming of an in-shape and in-rhythm Wilcox. He has continued with his usual trend of missing a good chunk of the season, missing exactly 20 games due mostly to a thumb injury. His consistency and having the ability to stay on the floor is bigger than ever the Celtics this season.
While his minute total is still low, a healthy Garnett-Wilcox tandem would pay dividends for a team overloaded with guards and undersized guys. The Celtics need Wilcox’s size, they need his loud dunks, and they need him to stay on the floor.
With the subtraction of Collins, Wilcox’s role just got a whole lot bigger. He doesn’t need to be anything near an All-Star, but 20 valuable minutes a night would be key for the Celtics down the stretch.
Wilcox is the classic case of a guy that could have been an All-Star if he simply could stay on the court. Now at 30-years old, staying on the court doesn’t get any easier, but the Celtics are in dire need of his contributions. Last night was a test for Wilcox to lead the charge without Garnett, and it’s safe to say he passed, but it’s only one game.
Eric St. Cyr is an NBA contributor for Rantsports.com Follow him on Twitter @ericJsaint