One of the most pleasant surprises of the Celtics' recent run of success has been the development of the man that Tommy Heinsohn says, “reminds (him) of Bill Russell.”
Stiemsma has been a key component of the Celtics' end-of-the-season push. Since the All-Star break he leads the Celtics in blocks per game (BPG) at 2.1. Offensively, he hasn’t been anything special, but on the other side of the court he is a 6’11" fly swatter who commands respect around the basket.
However, there appears to be a slight problem. Someone forgot to tell the refs that.
Since the All-Star break, Stiemsma has totaled 61 blocks (BLK). That currently places him third in the league in total blocks during that time, only behind the Pacers' Roy Hibbert and the Thunder's Serge Ibaka. The problem is Stiemsma has 97 personal fouls (PF) which also ranks him third in the NBA in that time period.
The stat that is downright alarming here is BLK/PF. What the stat is supposed to show is a comparison between the total number of blocks a player gets to the amount of fouls he receives, but in this case what it really shows is an indictment on referees to recognize that Stiemsma is more than a goofy-looking white guy flailing around at players driving through the paint. He’s actually a goofy-looking white guy who happens to be one of the NBA’s premier shot blockers.
While Stiemsma ranks 3rd in total blocks since the break, he ranks 39th in BLK/PF. That is by far the biggest discrepancy in ranks of any of the other top five shot blockers.
He is averaging 0.62 BLK for every personal foul he receives. To give you a frame of reference, that is even worse than Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose (.65 BLK/PF).
What does this mean?
It means the refs in the NBA have not recognized the “Great White Swipe” as an elite blocker. The “Stiem Engine” has not been getting the benefit of the doubt on 50/50 challenges under the hoop.
This isn’t just a personal stat for “White Out.” This has an effect on points against, possessions, team fouls, and ultimately the Celtics' depth. As the playoffs come around, if Stiemsma’s reputation with the men in stripes doesn’t improve, it could prove to be dangerous to the Celtics' playoff hopes.
Until then, I’ll just hear Tommy screaming in the back of my head, “What is the matter with these guys? These guys are ridiculous!”