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Boston Celtics: Grading Every Player's 2012 Campaign

Luis BatlleContributor IFebruary 11, 2012

Boston Celtics: Grading Every Player's 2012 Campaign

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    The Boston Celtics are back to true form. After winning nine of the last 12 games, they are in the hunt for the top spots in the East .

    The Big Three has stepped it up in the last several games. As a result, these Celtics have been picking up wins in a hurry.  

    Yet after just over one-third of the NBA season, doubts about the Celtics remain.  Will the rookies step up? Will the Big Three sustain its top-notch production? Might Brandon Bass and Mickael Pietrus be the X-factors for Boston?

    Through 26 games, here are the grades for each Boston Celtics player.

Mickael Pietrus: B

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    Mickael Pietrus is no Paul Pierce, and undoubtedly is not starter-worthy, yet he is game-changer for the Celtics.

    Bench production has been lacking, but he has sparked the second unit. His ability to knock down three-point shots has given the Celtics a lift off the bench.

    Despite averaging a mere 18 minutes a game, Pietrus makes two three-point shots and averages just under eight points a game.

Jermaine O'Neal: B

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    A "B?" Really? Absolutely.

    Jermaine O'Neal is a starter who does what he has to do for the Celtics to win games. His 20-to-25 minutes a night are significant because of his defensive presence and high offensive IQ.

    O'Neal averages 5.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, and 1.5 blocks in just over 22 minutes per game. His last three outings have been as solid as any all season. In those starts, he's averaged seven rebounds and two blocks.

    Considering his limitations in playing time, there is no question O'Neal has been as productive as any player on the team outside of the Big Three.

Brandon Bass: C+

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    Brandon Bass has struggled mightily of late, contributing just 21 rebounds, 31 points and two blocks in his last four games.

    On the season, Bass has been solid, averaging nearly 12 points and just over five rebounds a contest.

    Bass is a player still trying to find his role and will only continue to improve.

Sasha Pavlovic, Greg Stiemsma, and Chris Wilcox: N/A

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    All three newly-acquired Celtics have been non-factors so far. It is evident it will take time for each of these three to pick up the pace off the bench.

    Stiemsma occasionally has spurts of brilliance, yet the majority of his time on the floor he is a non-factor. His ability to block shots could help  the Celtics if he is able to improve his stamina and overall game.

    Wilcox and Pavlovic have had  fair share of struggles as well. They have looked especially out of place on the floor. Wilcox has been ineffective on either end, while Pavlovic's hustle on defense has led to pointless fouls that have hurt the team as much as it has helped it.

    All three will have to improve if the Celtics expect to make a run in April.

Keyon Dooling: C-

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    Dooling got off to a fast start . Two of his first three games featured double-digit scoring. But since then, it has all gone dramtically downhill.

    Since the hot start, Dooling has missed more than half the season due to a lingering hip injury that has limited his scoring to 34 total points.

    His inability to recover from his injury saddles Dooling with just a passing grade.

Avery Bradley: C+

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    The defensive show-stopper has seldom played in the 2012 campaign, as Rajon Rondo has taken a significant chunk of the minutes at the point-guard slot.

    Bradley is a remarkably quick and strong defender who has the potential to contribute come playoff time. Offensively, he has a more reliable jump shot than Rajon Rondo.

    His play has been just above average in the minutes he has played in Rondo's absence. He has delivered defensively and helped the Celtics to win games.

Marquis Daniels: D+

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    Where'd you go? I missed you so. It feels like it's been forever, since you've been gone.

    Had to throw in the Fort Minor tune for this one.

    Marquis Daniels is a fantastic defender and is heavily underrated in this respect. What he brings to the table defensively is something special. He is able to take on an opposing team's better offensive players and give the Celtics a significant advantage.

    Yet he has seen his minutes diminish because his offense has become a major liability. As a result, Doc Rivers can't find a way to get him into the lineup. In 14 minutes per game, he averages 3.2 points and shoots just under 34 percent from the field.

    His offense has to improve.

E'Twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson : C

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    In their first season out of Purdue, the dynamic duo has gradually shown signs of improvement.

    JaJuan Johnson has yet to receive many minutes, yet upon receiving playing time he has shown up in a big way. In his last  significant playing time, 22 minutes against Memphis, Johnson scored 10 points and grabbed four rebounds.

    Moore has slowly increased his playing time and has made the bigger strides of the two. He has  an especially reliable jump shot and puts forth strong defensive efforts. 

Rajon Rondo: A-

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    Arguably the most underrated point guard in basketball (with the exception of "Linsanity," of course), Rajon Rondo has had an especially solid season.

    The one knock on Rondo is that he has been injured this season. Yet upon returning, he has shown the world just how valuable he is.

    Rondo has recorded at least seven assists in each of his last five outings, while recording back-to-back games of 14 assists in the process. His ability to set the tempo and deliver with his passing game is a must for the Celtics moving forward. 

Kevin Garnett: B+

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    The Big Ticket finally gets it, He finally understand aggression is the key.

    Until recently  Garnett has not been there offensively all season. But lately, Garnett has looked more explosive on his finishes, has looked to find the rim more often than not, and is still bringing equal intensity on the defensive end. 

    In his last five games, Garnett is averaging 18 points and 8.8 rebounds while shooting 52.8 percent. All are well above the 14 points, 7.5 rebounds per game and 49 percent shooting he is putting up on the season.

    Expect Garnett to keep picking up the pace. It seems he finally understands what he has to do to help this team. Sustained offensive production from KG will be key for this team going forward.

Ray Allen: B

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    Although not showing the dramatic improvement of a Garnett, Ray Allen has been picking up the pace as well.

    In his last five games, Allen has hit nearly two three-pointers per game and scored 14.2 points per game.

    Against the L.A. Lakers, Allen recorded 22 points on 9-of-20 shooting, as the team fell just short  against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.

    With Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce putting it all on the line,  it will be important that Allen follow  and find a way to produce big numbers this season.

Paul Pierce: A

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    Guess who's back?

    If there's one player that should be all smiles in Beantown, it's Paul Pierce.

    After a handful of games to forget after returning from injury, Pierce has gone off. In five of the team's last nine wins, Pierce has scored at least 20 points. It is clear that the offensive game that Pierce is back on full display.

    The memorable, turn-around game for Pierce came against Washington, when he finished with 34 points, eight rebounds and 10 assists.

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