Marquis Daniels Proving to Be Better Than Celtics Expected


November 19, 2009

Marquis Daniels Proving to Be Better Than Celtics Expected When the Celtics first expressed interest in Marquis Daniels back in July, they knew what they were getting — a fiery, explosive small forward who could come in off the bench in relief of Paul Pierce, scoring in bunches.

They might have been wrong.

In reality, the C's appear to have gotten much more than a high-scoring wing guy who can pile up stats. They've gotten a team-oriented, gifted all-around player who has bought into the Celtics' system much quicker than anyone expected.

"I'm just going to go out there and play basketball, continue helping the team get better," Daniels told last week. "I mean, we're striving for something that's bigger than one game, so I'm just taking it one game at a time, going out there helping the team, whatever it is Doc asks me to do."

The original plan was for head coach Doc Rivers to turn to Daniels as a bench scorer, someone to help carry the load when the Big Three ran into an off night. What few expected was for a wiser, more mature Daniels — Daniels the passer, Daniels the defender, Daniels the playmaker — to emerge this soon.

Watch him on the defensive end, playing fantastic one-on-one D against the game's best small forwards. He's quick, he's agile, and he has tremendous instincts. He can read people. He plays with confidence and poise.

Watch him on offense, even without the ball. He's not even attempting to get his own numbers. He's thinking about the team, plotting how to put a man in green in the best position to score. The picks, the screens, the perfectly timed passes — he's a natural.

"It's funny, he doesn't get a lot of the baskets, but he leads to all the baskets," Rivers told ESPN Boston earlier this season. "He does so many little things for our basketball team. He's a phenomenal defender. He's our point guard out there with that unit … His basketball IQ jumps off [the page], and even to our coaching staff, it's so subtle, but he does so much."

The numbers aren't reflecting what he does. Daniels averages 9.4 points per game for his career and maxed out at 13.6 last season, but he is down to 6.5 per game since he put on a Boston uniform. That's a career low. His rebounding, which hit a career-high 4.6 per game last year, has dropped off the face of the earth to 2.1. Even his assists, which you'd think would skyrocket when you give him all these phenomenal scorers to work with, have remained fairly consistent at 2.5 per game.

But Daniels isn't talking about that. He's just talking about team.

"If I need to score, I?ll score. I?m not really worried about that," Daniels told CelticsBlog two weeks ago. "I?m just going out there doing whatever needs to be done. Just taking advantage of every situation trying to make sure guys get their proper rest when I get in the game and they come out and hopefully the team don?t miss a beat. That?s just my main focus right now. Just trying to keep things going."

This is the transformation that every player undergoes upon arriving in Boston. Call it the Kevin Garnett Effect — when you come here, you learn to win as part of a team. Your own numbers don't matter anymore. Only winning does.

James Posey learned that lesson two years ago. Eddie House learned it. Glen Davis and Leon Powe and even Stephon Marbury learned it.

The Celtics of the last three seasons have always built teams with fantastic bench role players. Pierce, Allen and Garnett will always steal the headlines, but the guys further down the depth chart are winning games for these C's. Marquis Daniels just might be the best one of them yet.

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