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Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Handicapping the Auerbach Award field

By Chris Forsberg

Getty ImagesPast Auerbach Awards honorees include Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Rajon Rondo.
The Boston Celtics will hand out their 9th annual Red Auerbach Award during Wednesday's season finale against the Washington Wizards at TD Garden.

The honor, presented each year since the 2005-06 season, is bestowed upon the Celtics player or coach who best exemplifies the spirit of what it means to be a Celtic through performance on the court and off. The award is named in honor of legendary coach, general manager, and president of the Celtics, the late Arnold “Red” Auerbach.

The award has typically been a nod to the best player on the team, though it made the rounds among Boston's four All-Stars (Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, and Ray Allen) during the Big Three era and the team even bestowed it upon coach Doc Rivers one season.

Here's the full rundown of past winners:

2013: Garnett
2012: Pierce
2011: Rivers
2010: Rondo
2009: Allen
2008: Garnett
2007: Al Jefferson
2006: Pierce

So who takes the award this season? Let's handicap the field:

THE FAVORITE: While he'll top out at 31 games if he appears in Wednesday's finale and he's still shaking rust while working his way back from ACL surgery, it's probably fair to say Rondo is Boston's most valuable player (when healthy) and his efforts to be around the team even while rehabbing him make the captain the favorite to join Pierce and Garnett as repeat winners. Plus, it just seems right that No. 9 would win the 9th annual award.

THE FIELD: Jared Sullinger put together an excellent sophomore season and represents one of the bright spots for the future. The guess here is he'll be hoisting one of these awards in future seasons. ... Jeff Green will complete his second 82-game season since returning from heart surgery and while we tend to focus on his inconsistencies, Green will finish with a career high in scoring (16.8 points per game). ... Ankle/Achilles woes derailed Avery Bradley a bit late in the season, but his offensive game blossomed this season and he was one of the most impactful players when he was on the court.

THE DARK HORSE: Brandon Bass did what Brandon Bass does, quietly bringing his hard hat to work each day. He will close out the season having quietly started nearly 90 percent of Boston's games despite plenty of young competition pushing him for that starting gig. What's more, Bass was one of the most active players in the community off the court, most notably with his swimming initiatives. Only Rondo and Bradley have longer tenures here and Bass might be exactly the sort of under-the-radar guy that the Auerbach Award aims to celebrate.

THE OUTSIDE THE BOX PICK: Given that no player quite screams for the award this year, maybe the Celtics could go the curveball route. It's probably too early to give it to first-year coach Brad Stevens (though he was a soldier for navigating this season with a flawed roster), but maybe this is the year that the Celtics give it to president of basketball operations Danny Ainge. After all, he's the one in the spotlight while navigating this transition process and it was Ainge that ushered int he remodel with the deals that sent Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn and Rivers to Los Angeles.

[More Red Auerbach Award coverage]