CelticsBlog Exit Interview: Brad Wanamaker
With all the star power of their five best players, the Boston Celtics had a minor banking problem this season. The pivotal situation was discussed to death and the wings lacked a reliable backup presence as Semi Ojeleye failed to develop and Romeo Langford struggled to stay sane. In the playoffs, it was almost impossible to predict who might join Brad Stevens at any given time. Despite all the uncertainty, thanks to contributions from Brad Wanamaker, the Celtics found unlikely stability in the Backup Point Guard.
Wanamaker was a bench warmer in his first NBA season last year and has been pushed into a bigger role this season for a number of reasons. Terry Rozier's departure to Charlotte opened the role of backup point guard, and injuries to Kemba Walker and Gordon Hayward, which surfaced in various spots throughout the year, only added to his responsibilities. After playing just 343 minutes as a rookie, he saw over 1,300 spots on the pitch in the regular season. And while he's been a source of frustration for Celtics fans at times, Wanamaker has been a net positive for the Celtics this season.
Wanamaker's best attribute is consistency. They know exactly what he is going to give you 15 minutes a night. He drops a couple of shots, tries to defend himself, and hits all of his free throws. That kind of reliability isn't exciting, but it has value on a bank that was otherwise extremely young and difficult to rely on every night. It was particularly beneficial given the 2019 second round fights when Carsen Edwards found no rhythm in his first professional season and played less than 40 minutes total in the bladder.
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In the playoffs, Wanamaker did his best job. The Celtics struggled with banking depth for most of the postseason when Marcus Smart rose to the starting line-up after Hayward's sprain, but Wanamaker was a rare ray of hope. He became functionally the team's sixth man as the only bench player to be on guard in just 81 seconds after Romeo Langford's introduction to rotation due to a wrist injury.
Game 5's blowout against the Raptors was possibly the best game of Wanamaker's entire career so far. He scored 15 points on the night, 10 of them before half-time, conceding a trio with three pointers. Humble numbers, but impressive for a third-string point guard against an impressive postseason defense. He also tightened the screws defensively, supporting an outstanding team performance at this end of the pitch. He was a plus-13 that night.
It's easy to get frustrated with a man like Brad Wanamaker. His occasional mistakes are usually loud, he gets tunnel crossing in transition and he doesn't always look for the team's stars as often as the fans would like. When things go sideways for a team as talented as the Celtics, it's natural to keep your fingers on the weaker links. But Wanamaker played an important – albeit tiny – role on this Celtics team, advancing admirably after injury and improving his game in the postseason. It's hard to ask for more.
This off-season could bring some drastic changes to the Celtics rotation, and Wanamaker is currently ready to join the free agency. It's unclear what his future in Boston might look like, whether the Celtics could bring him back as an inexpensive bank piece or move on via draft or a trade. Either way, this has been a very solid season for the former Euroleague star and deserves a mention alongside great Celtics artists like James Posey and Shane Larkin.