The Celtics spent a month and a half this summer trying to wrest Marquis Daniels away from the Indiana Pacers. Now that they have him, the question is what to do with him.
Through three games, Daniels hasn't exactly been the breakout player that averaged 13.6 points per game in his sixth season with the Pacers. He's been a bench role player struggling to find his way — with 6.3 points per game so far, he ranks ninth on the Celtics, buried on the stat sheet beneath fellow backups Rasheed Wallace, Glen Davis and Eddie House.
Daniels isn't going to be the standout sixth man he was in Indiana. But he will find a role on the Celtics, whether it's as a forward, or a point guard, or something in between. So which is it?
Watching Daniels so far, he looks like the perfect chameleon for the Celtics' bench. He's a very capable ball-handler at the point — he may not have the dazzling quickness of Rajon Rondo, but he looks like a serviceable backup for the C's star. It appears that those who called him a "train wreck at the point" were speaking a little too soon.
So far, Daniels has six assists and only three turnovers, making for an efficient 2.0 ratio that far exceeds Rondo's thus far (0.9, as Rondo has endured an early-October slump). Daniels appears confident with the basketball and is making smart decisions — and that's all the Celtics need from their backup.
As a wing guy, Daniels has shown the capability to knock down the open jumper, along with the occasional flair for driving and scoring. He's not a superstar, but he has some weapons in his arsenal. He'll be just fine in his own right.
Defensively, he appears best-suited to playing on the wing. He's a bit too slow to regularly stop opposing point guards, and a bit too small to be a threat against a good forward. But as a two-guard, he'll make for a solid defensive stopper in place of Ray Allen.
Daniels has his weaknesses, but he's a versatile enough player that he can fill in whenever needed. And on the Celtics' bench, versatility is hard to come by.
After their starting five, the C's are led by Wallace, who's 6-foot-11 but is too much of a habitual jump-shooter to play center. Davis is probably close to 6-foot-7 but is too slow to play small forward. House, who looks like a point guard but never quite learned to master the position.
All over the C's bench, they have players who aren't quite versatile enough to do everything asked of them. Daniels, however, is a jack of all trades.
He's not a master of any of them. But for just under $2 million, Boston GM Danny Ainge has uncovered a diamond in the rough — a player who can fit into the Celtics' system however needed.
To start the season, Daniels will probably be a small forward primarily, coming off the bench to spell Paul Pierce when needed. But if his role changes as the season goes on, so be it.
Lester Hudson appears to be the C's backup point guard at the moment. If that doesn't work out, Daniels can slide right in. If House ends up moving to the point, Daniels can shift over and play at the two. If either one of them gets hurt, Daniels can fill the void.
All the best teams have contingency plans. It's a long season, and you need to be ready for whatever adversity comes your way — injuries, shooting slumps, chemistry problems, what have you. For the Celtics, having a backup plan has never been easier — because in Daniels, the Celtics have a backup wherever they need one.
The Celtics worked hard to land Marquis Daniels.
Daniels, in turn, is ready to work hard to win in Boston. However he's needed, he'll roll with the punches.
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