How did the Maine Red Claws do last season?
Last season the Maine Red Claws finished 19-31 (fourth in the East Division). Maine missed the playoffs after making the playoffs in the 2012-13 season for the first time in franchise history. The affiliate of the Boston Celtics finished 14th in PPG and were lead for most of the season by Frank Gaines (22.4 ppg in 45 appearances) and Chris Wright (19.8 ppg in 41 games).
How good can they be?
The Red Claws look to be in store for a middle-of-the-pack season in the East division Both of their leading scorers in Gaines and Wright are gone and the roster looks brand new from last season. However, they do have some pieces that fans should keep an eye on. The two returning players from last season to watch for the Red Claws are Sherwood Brown and Chris Babb. While two rookies primped to excel are Christian Watford out of Indiana and Tim Frazier from Penn State.
Sherwood Brown played his first season with Maine last year after coming out of Florida Gulf Coast aka Dunk City in 2013. The 6'4" guard averaged 7.2 points and 5.1 boards in 30 games with Maine last season, shooting 45% from the field and a respectable 35% from three. Brown only played 22.5 minutes per game last season, so an uptick in minutes could result in some nice production.
One of the reasons I really like Chris Babb is his NBA experience with the Boston Celtics. Even though the Celtics waived Babb in September, he stayed with the Red Claws because of his familiarity with the system. He's already proving to have a good season after scoring 22 points in Maine's Red-White scrimmage on Nov. 9.
Tim Frazier and Christian Watford are two recognizable names to any NCAA fan. Can't remember who Christian Watford is? He's the man that hit this shot to lift unranked Indiana over No. 1 seeded Kentucky back in 2011. Both Watford and Frazier made it to final cuts with the Boston Celtics in training camp, even suiting up for the last exhibition game.
Watford stands at 6'9" and is clearly designed to play power forward but boasts a unique spot-up shooting ability. In his final two years at Indiana, Watford sniped the three at 44% and 48% respectively. Watford also shot 80% or better in all four years at Indiana, something big men usually have an issue with. His remarkable shooting stroke should help spread the floor for the Red Claws.
On the other hand, Tim Frazier is a nice prospect from Penn State. He's a small point guard at 6'1", 170 pounds, but showed the ability to run an offense at Penn State. Not to mention, Frazier had two season at Penn State where he averaged over two steals per game. I really like Frazier to come in and maintain point guard duties for the Red Claws, meshing nicely with studs like Babb and Brown in the back court.
Most likely call-up?
The obvious answer is Chris Babb. He already has 14 games of experience with the Boston Celtics and Babb stayed in Maine for a reason: to play with the Celtics. Besides his game experience, Babb was in training camp with the Boston Celtics all summer. The coaches know him and he knows them, it's just bound to happen eventually. The Marcus Smart injury could open some doors up for Babb.
If I had to choose someone that was a shot in the dark, I'd go with Asauhn Dixon-Tatum, a 7'0", 230 pound center from Auburn. There's always room for a 7-footers in the NBA and Dixon-Tatum should have enough time to retool his game in the D-League. He isn't an offensive stud, only averaging 6.0 points last year at Auburn and leaves much to be desired on the boards (6.0 rebounds last season). Though, he only played 22.5 minutes per game last season and it'll be interesting to see his production if the minutes are given to him. Dixon-Tatum averaged 2.1 blocks per game with Auburn in 2013-14, knowing rim protection is a premium in the NBA could have an NBA squad calling his card.
Most intriguing potential assignee?
The sharpshooter from Kentucky, Mr. James Young. The 6'6" guard was the 17th pick in the 2014 draft, but he had offseason concussion and hamstring issues and is currently away from the team for personal reasons. If the Celtics keep winning enough games to flirt with playoff contention, the minutes just won't be there for a player to develop like Young. The Celtics might prefer to call a player like Chris Babb up to play and let James Young polish his game with the Red Claws.
Can new head coach Scott Morrison improve the Red Claws?
I like the addition of Scott Morrison as head coach of the squad. Morrison took a Lakewood University team from the bottom to the top in a few short years and has plenty experience working with younger talent. With all of these pieces coming together, it's going to be interesting to see who steps up as the leader for the Red Claws. However, Morrison will put these guys in place to succeed and I look forward to watching him coach this season.