Five Reasons Why Wallace Will Rebound
BOSTON – The Gerald Wallace Experiment didn’t work out so well for the Nets last season in Brooklyn.
Tweak the experiment, and you may tweak the results.
Wallace is no longer a resident of Brooklyn or a member of the Nets. He has moved on to the most storied franchise in the NBA, the Boston Celtics. That change may be just what was needed to get Wallace’s career back on track.
The Celtics acquired the former All-Star during their blockbuster trade with the Nets this summer. Boston is counting on Wallace to return to his productive ways, and fortunately for the C’s, there are plenty of reasons to think that Wallace will do so. Here are our top five reasons to believe that Wallace will bounce back during his first season in green and white.
1. Up-Tempo Style of Play
What kind of players would you want on your roster if you were running an up-tempo basketball team? Athletic ones. Very athletic ones.
Wallace fits that bill, as he’s been known as one of the NBA’s freak athletes for what’s going on a decade. That athleticism has led to him being selected to an All-Star game (2010), the NBA’s All-Defensive First Team (2010), and to him leading the NBA in steals (2006). He’s also taken part in two Slam Dunk Contests.
There’s no doubt that Wallace is a premier athlete, and that’s why he’ll fit in well with this new-look Celtics team. Boston has built a young and athletic roster that will be looking to run at every opportunity. Efficient play in transition will be critical to their success, and they’ll be relying on Wallace to provide support in that department.
This was far from the case while Wallace struggled last season in Brooklyn. The Nets played at the third-slowest pace in the league, with an average of just 91.2 possessions per game. The C’s should far exceed that number this season, and that should benefit Wallace.
2. New Offensive Scheme
To put it simply, Brooklyn wasn’t too concerned with putting Wallace in positions to succeed last season. Instead, the team operated under the belief that its offense needed to revolve around Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and Brook Lopez. Williams is a pick-and-roll player, Johnson is an isolation player, and Lopez is a post player. None of those skills cater to Wallace’s strengths.
Because Brooklyn’s offense featured Williams, Johnson and Lopez, Wallace was left on an island all by himself. Typically that island existed behind the 3-point line, which is not one of his areas of comfort.
Wallace attempted 36 percent of his shots last season from 3-point range despite the fact that he’s only a career 31.3 percent shooter from long distance. He was essentially turned into a spot-up shooter. That simply is not his game.
Boston’s offense should feature much more motion than Brooklyn’s did a season ago. As a result, Wallace should get more opportunities to take the ball off of the dribble. He has made 54.3 percent of his shots in the paint over the past five seasons. Boston’s offense should allow him get to the rack.
3. Playing Alongside Rondo
Who’s going to make sure that Wallace is set up with those quality looks around the basket? It all starts with Brad Stevens’ direction, but it falls on Rajon Rondo’s shoulders.
Rondo is considered by many to be the greatest setup man in the game right now. There’s a reason why he’s led the league in assists-per-game the past two seasons. He learns his teammates’ tendencies and comfort zones, then uses that knowledge to set his teammates up for success.
Williams is a heck of a point guard , but he’s also a scoring point guard. He’s going to look to shoot far more often than Rondo. Literally every time the ball is in Rondo’s hands, he’s looking to get the ball to a teammate for an open look. Rondo shooting the ball is merely a backup plan.
Wallace is going to benefit from playing alongside Rondo, just like nearly every other player has in the past. A higher percentage of good looks for Wallace will mean a more efficient season at the offensive end.
4. Taking on Reserves
One would have to assume that Jeff Green has a firm grip on the starting small forward spot in Boston. He looked like an All-Star in the making over the final three months of last season, and with Pierce now donning another jersey, Green can have the starting spot all to himself.
What does that mean for Wallace? Well, it could mean that he’s going to become a super sub. Unless the Celtics go with a very small lineup, Wallace is almost certain to back up Green.
A reserve role for Wallace could result in a dramatic spike in his impact and efficiency. Rather than playing the bulk of his minutes against the likes of LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Durant, Wallace could wind up facing off with guys like Corey Brewer, Matt Barnes and Mike Dunleavy. Wallace is more talented than nearly every backup small forward in the league. That should help him succeed against lesser talent.
5. A Fresh Start
You can never underestimate what a fresh start can do for an athlete. Just look at guys like Zach Randolph and Chris Andersen. They are two prime examples of NBA players who rejuvenated their careers after changing teams.
Wallace has an opportunity this season to jump into the same category. This is a guy who was viewed as one of the NBA’s better players as recently as a couple of years ago. Now the critics have piled onto his back after just one poor season.
A move to Boston may be just what the doctor ordered for Wallace. The team will position him well for success, and there won’t be any overwhelming expectations planted on his back. The hope is that Wallace’s fresh start results in a return to his customary level of play.