The Boston Celtics have been one of the busiest teams this season, grabbing quality additions to a team fresh off a 2022 NBA Finals appearance. Additions like guard Malcolm Brogdon allow the Celtics to become even more dangerous in a talented Eastern Conference. However, due to injuries to free agent signing Danilo Gallinari and defensive star Robert Williams, Boston needed to act fast to replace the production of these crucial parts of their roster. On Sept. 30, the Celtics took a step in the right direction with the signing of veteran forward Blake Griffin. While Griffin provides quality veteran leadership and solid offense off the bench, the team passed on options like Carmelo Anthony to sign Griffin. Should the Celtics have chosen Anthony or stuck with their initial signing of Griffin? Staff Writer Evan Rodriguez and Campus Correspondent Sam Calhoun will argue this question in today’s edition of point/counterpoint.
Evan: When I first heard of the Griffin signing, I was a big fan. He’s a solid veteran who can help fill some of the hole left by the absence of Robert Williams. He’s far from his prime, but he can definitely stretch the court with his shooting and shows small flashes of the athleticism he once possessed during his time with the Clippers. I stand with this signing over a guy like Carmelo Anthony and that’s primarily due to the issue of defense. The loss of Williams is huge for this Celtics team, specifically because of the defensive impact that he provides. While both players are statistically poor defenders, I’d give the edge to Griffin due to the small height difference. He also had a slightly better defensive rating than Anthony while playing 17 minutes per game. Due to the signing of Brogdon to an already scary offensive core of Taum and Brown, the Celtics can still be great without Gallinari, but the loss of Williams for an extended period of time is much harder to deal with. They’ll need frontcourt depth to fill that and Griffin can step in and help.
Sam: I agree with your perspective on how the Blake Griffin signing helps to temporarily fill in the hole that Robert Williams leaves with his injury. However, Danilo Gallinari was supposed to bring the Celtics to the next level as a legit sixth man, and everyone looked to Carmelo Anthony as the guy to replace him. Both Griffin and Anthony have had long, decorated careers in the NBA. Yes, Anthony is 38 years old, but he has continued to be an impactful player coming off the bench. It may not be the Carmelo Anthony who was a superstar with the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks, but averaging just over 13 points per game on 37.5 percent shooting beats out Griffin, who has been dealing on-and-off with injuries the past few seasons. Anthony also has had a more accomplished career, as he is a 10-time All-Star, six-time all-NBA, and a former scoring champion. Griffin, on the other hand, is a six-time All-Star and five-time all-NBA. Enough about the past, however. Currently, Anthony is, despite his age, in better shape than Griffin Both of them aren’t great at defense, so there’s nothing on that end of the floor that would change besides Griffin’s height.
Evan: Both players have had explosive careers, but as you stated, it’s important to focus on what’s going on currently in their careers. While Gallinari would have helped Boston get to that next level with a dependable sixth man, Williams’ absence is a far bigger problem. Spotrac’s Keith Smith reinforced that the hole Griffin fills is larger than the hole left by the Gallinari injury. Furthermore, Smith brings up a great point about Griffin’s defense. While we both know that Griffin isn’t exactly an elite defender, his height does allow him to guard the center position, a task that Anthony would find tremendous difficulty in due to his own defensive troubles and height. The playmaking is there for Griffin with 4.2 assists per 75 possessions over his last 3 seasons and when you have options to pass to like Tatum, Brown, Brogdon and more, that’s an undervalued weapon for this Celtics team. If Boston had not been so strong offensively and hadn’t lost the dependable defense of Williams, Anthony certainly has an argument. However, Griffin brings too much to the table with the loss of Williams to argue for Anthony over him.
Sam: I’m not saying Danilo Gallinari’s absence is more significant than Robert Williams’s absence. It’s the opposite, as you just mentioned. However, it is expected that Williams will return to basketball in approximately six weeks, as the timetable states 8-12 as of September 23. I agree with Keith Smith’s statement that Blake Griffin fits more of a replacement for Williams, while Carmelo Anthony fits Gallinari’s role. Gallinari tore his ACL this past summer, which means he will miss the entire season. The next player in line to substitute in Williams’s role before Griffin came to Boston was veteran Al Horford, who belongs more at the power forward spot, standing at six-feet-nine-inches. Blake Griffin is also that height, so what makes him a better choice than Al Horford, who was a huge contribution as the Celtics continued their road to the NBA Finals last season? Is Griffin seriously going to start over Al Horford? Or do the Celtics trust two 6’9” players at their 4 and 5 positions? With Carmelo Anthony, you have more threats around the perimeter and you play small ball.