Consider this past week’s game against the Pistons a microcosm of Chris Wilcox’s season to date.
He started the game with a turnover that led to a Pistons basket and an early 4-0 lead. But a few plays later, Wilcox got the Celtics on the board for the first time. Then he scored again. And again.
Wilcox scored six of the C’s first nine points, finishing with 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field, nine rebounds, and three assists. While the Celtics didn’t win — something that Wilcox noted numerous times after the game — he’s improved his play over the last couple of weeks.
He’s now playing like the guy Doc Rivers always knew he could be.
“He’s figured it out. I think this is how he should be every day in his career,” Rivers said. “I don’t think it should be inconsistent. I think this is who he is. It’s a talent he has. Energy for a big is a talent and I think it’s who he should be every night. I tell him that all the time. I always tell him you should never be a minimum big in our league.”
After winning the NCAA National Championship as a freshman in 2001-02 with Maryland, Wilcox entered the NBA draft, where he was selected ninth overall by the L.A. Clippers. What followed was nine seasons with five different teams, up and down play, and not one single playoff appearance.
Wilcox has a real chance at the playoffs this season, and due to injuries, his role is increasing by the game.
“He’s giving us exactly what we hoped for when we signed him: energy, athleticism, running the floor, finishing at the basket,’’ said coach Doc Rivers.
Those qualities are exactly what someone like Rajon Rondo can benefit from in transition. Rivers likened Rondo’s newfound confidence in Wilcox to the Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski connection. A bit of a stretch, but you get the idea.
Perhaps the only surprising thing is the on-court chemistry displayed by the point guard and big man — a chemistry that could go a long way down the grueling stretch.
“I know at the beginning of the year I was dropping a lot of [Rondo’s] passes,” Wilcox said. “Practicing and things like that just helped me out, being in the right situation in the right times. His passes that he’s throwing now are nothing surprising to me.”
Road to Boston
A look at Chris Wilcox’s best years at his other NBA stops:
2003-04 In his sophomore season, Wilcox posted 8.6 ppg for the Clippers.
2005-06 His best statistical NBA season, Wilcox averaged 14 and 8 for the Sonics.
2010-11 In 57 games for Detroit, Wilcox averaged 7.4 ppg. The Maryland product also played for the Knicks in 2008-09.