Can Rasheed Wallace still be expected to be a big difference maker?
Rasheed Wallace will be a 35 year old veteran of over 1000 NBA games in September (he's started in about 95% of his appearances, even well into his thirties). His career is fairly distinguished having appeared in 4 All Star games and he is a top 100 all time rebounder and a top 50 all time shot blocker (with room for improvement on those lists still). However, as far as the National Basketball Association goes, he is well past his prime.
With the Celtics acquiring the veteran's services for next year's NBA season, there has been a lot of buzz but is that hype completely justified in Wallace's case?
Wallace is about 5 years removed from his best basketball however the natural drop in his game due to aging is only really noticeable in his points per game averages. His career average for points per game is 15.0 and when he was playing his best, he nearly averaged 20 points per game (2000-2002). Last year, however he averaged just 12 points per game, a significant drop from the middle part of his career, and that was his worst average since his rookie year.
In terms of rebounding and blocking ability Wallace actually still hovers around his career averages, even though he is well into his mid-thirties. Last year Wallace had 7.4 rebounds per game to go with 1.3 blocks per game and those averages were very close to what he had produced over his career.
Since Boston already has prolific scorers in Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett, and Paul Pierce, Rasheed Wallace's game has to be considered very well suited to that of his Boston teammates. Wallace's recent history and career stats indicated that he will beef up the defense, clean up the glass, and score when left open.
The Celtics are in a tough conference with the Orlando Magic and Cleveland Cavaliers, but they have a tough team as well. To win the NBA championship, Players Only has Boston set at +500 (5/1) with only Cleveland and Los Angeles ahead of them. At that price, Boston isn't really providing great value but there might be a little as they look more like a +400 (4/1) team in our view.
Our recommendation is to pick Boston to win the NBA title in 2009-10 as we see this team's odds shortening in the future.