Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Pick your poison.
Riggin' for Wiggins.
Scandal for Randle.
Lose for ... okay, we're still working on one for Jabari Parker. Turns out there aren't many words that rhyme with Jabari in the English language (safari is the only one I can think of).
Either way, the Celtics were supposed to be knee-deep in lottery balls by now. With Jabari and Andrew Wiggins waiting in the wings, tanking is the only way to go, right Brad Stevens?
"I never spend a minute thinking about it," Stevens said when someone brought up the T-word in one of his first interviews as Celtics head coach.
Come on, man. Didn't you see that dunk Wiggins had the other night?
"It's never been part of my vocabulary," he insisted.
Maybe you need to expand your vocabulary then. Surely Danny Ainge knows tanking is in the team's best interest.
"It's never been a part of the players in this locker's room vocabulary or anybody in this building."
Geez, this guy might be serious. So serious, in fact, that the Celtics are leading their division ... by two games. And it could have been three if not for a late barrage of Deron Williams layups last night in Brooklyn.
The Celtics, the team that traded their two best players and franchise cornerstones for Kris Humphries and a liter of Pepsi, are really in first place?
Correctamundo. Look at the standings if you don't believe me. Wait, they're right here (how convenient).
New York 5-15
Okay, so are we sure the Mayans didn't mean 2013? I think I'm gonna head to the bomb shelter just to be safe.
They say timing is everything. Never has that been more true than in the case of the 2013-14 Boston Celtics. You picked a good year to be in the Eastern Conference, fellas.
Though Boston's 10-13 mark is probably better than most Celtics fans were expecting when they first heard the words "Jordan Crawford at point guard," that record would be good for 14th-best in the Western Conference. In case you were unaware, the Western Conference has 15 teams.
Clearly, success is relative. But that doesn't mean the Celtics aren't talented.
They're plenty talented. All five Boston starters (that includes Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Brandon Bass and Crawford) are averaging double-figures. To put that in perspective, only four players were averaging double-digit points when the Celtics won the title in 2008. Of those four, only Rajon Rondo is still on the team.
And speaking of Rondo, can you imagine how good the C's would be if he were healthy? They might be over .500!
Alright, let's not get carried away. Jeff Green ain't MJ and Avery Bradley sure as heck isn't Scottie Pippen. But in fantasy terms, which is all we care about, both of them are doing just fine.
Green's 16.7 ppg average is his highest in six NBA seasons. He's been especially potent from deep (41.5 percent on three-pointers this season) and his positional flexibility (he's listed at shooting guard, small forward and power forward in various formats) only adds to his value.
Bradley, an anemic offensive player in his first three seasons (6.9 ppg on 43.8 percent shooting), has reinvented himself as a two-guard this season, averaging 13.5 ppg in his first 23 contests. Fantasy owners already know he's one of the game's best perimeter defenders, so the 1.2 spg he's averaging shouldn't come as much of a surprise.
Even Jared Sullinger, when healthy, has been a force to be reckoned with. His 13.5 ppg average ties him with Marcin Gortat for seventh among NBA centers. The 57 three-pointers he's taken this season are already five more than he attempted in his entire career at Ohio State (he spent two seasons in Columbus). Three-pointers have accounted for almost 20 percent of his point total this season.
The real surprise, though, has been Crawford, Boston's gun-slinging hot mess of a point guard. Crawford's frenetic, mile a minute style is enough to give any basketball purist a migraine. With that said, he's been a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners daring enough to take him in this year's draft.
Reckless and fantasy stardom are two things that don't usually go hand-in-hand but somehow, Crawford has struck the perfect balance. His unpredictable, three-point-chucking ways have led to averages of 14.0 ppg and 5.3 apg, both noticeable improvements from what he posted in 2012-13 (11.6 ppg and 3.2 apg). He's been Stephen Curry-like since the start of the month, averaging 21.3 ppg on 56.4 percent shooting in four December contests.
The well-dressed elephant in the room is Rajon Rondo, who continues to make Frank Sinatra look like a hobo with his fine corduroy suits and Italian loafers. Luckily for Crawford owners, his recovery from a torn ACL is moving at a snail's pace and he shouldn't be back until the start of the new year.
Will the Celtics be a .500 team by then? I doubt it. But there's more than enough talent in Beantown to keep fantasy owners occupied in the meantime.
It just came to me. Punting for Parker! We can all go home now.