My laughter soon turned to utter shock as my mouth dropped another few inches after every block he made.
In all he swatted away six shots that night in an otherwise lackluster loss to the Hornets.
But with that, Goldiblocks was born.
He would block as many as six shots only once more during the season, but his impact was still felt on both ends of the floor in every game in which he appeared.
On defense he continued to turn shots away—although, not at as alarming a rate as his in his NBA debut. Still, he put up blocks at a rate impressive enough for any reserve center.
Offensively, he was a bit of a liability, but he still managed to make an impact by setting good screens, finishing pretty well around the rim and hitting open jump shots when given chances.
Stiemsma's solid play and Celtics injuries added up to increased minutes and a larger role for the former Wisconsin Badger.
I doubt anyone expected the former D-League Defensive Player of the Year to be the first player off the bench in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, but based on the circumstances, he was the best option for the Celtics.
And to his credit, he did perform well in a role that was likely over his head.
In the final 10 games of the postseason, Stiemsma shot a remarkable 9-for-10 from the field. And it is definitely worth noting that he did all of this with a foot injury that kept him from practicing.
At full health, he could have made even more of an impact.
Really, though, Stiemsma did all the Celtics could have asked of him and more.
Let's remember the expectations of him from day one. He exceeded those and more, which gives me no choice but to give him a high grade.
What He Must Improve on for Next Year
Stiemsma quietly did a lot well for the Celtics.
At first, he seemed to be a one-trick pony that could only block shots, but it quickly became clear that he could do more than just that.
His on-ball defense, which was suspect at first, improved tremendously as the season progressed. At the same time, with more playing time, he got to showcase unknown talents like his solid mid-range jumper.
Offensively though, even with his reliable jumper, Stiemsma still leaves a lot to be desired.
During the offseason, he should try to develop a few post moves so that he can have some semblance of a post game.
He doesn't necessarily need to be Kevin McHale in the post, but a few moves would really help his game.
If he can do this, then he will actually become a real threat on the offensive end, one that can't be ignored, as he often was last year.
Expectations for Next Year
I speak for all Celtics fans when I say that I would love to see Greg Stiemsma back in green next season. Maybe not as the first off the bench, but definitely in some sort of reserve role.
Unfortunately, the price just might not be right for the Celtics.
Bulls reserve center Omer Asik, a player very similar to Stiemsma, just signed a three-year, $25 million deal with the Houston Rockets, which would seemingly set the price tag for Stiemsma at somewhere close to that.
If Stiemsma does demand a salary close to what his counterpart Asik cashed in on, then the Celtics would be best to let him walk.
The Celtics did extend Stiemsma a qualifying offer of $1.05 million, which allows them to match any offer Stiemsma receives.
However, they should still be careful not to overpay for the young center because he is a reserve at best and the Celtics can't afford to waste any money this offseason.
If he does indeed return to Boston at the right price, then Celtics fans should expect a slight—but not dramatic—increase in his level of play.
When he's healthier, he will be more mobile on the court, which will allow him to block more shots and grab more rebounds.
Offensively, he may still be a liability, unless he develops a few post moves.
Overall, though, he will make a solid impact as the second or third big man off the bench, a role that may suit him better on what looks to be the deepest Celtics team in a while.
Check out Avery Bradley's season grade, what he needs to improve on and his expectations for next year here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1235645-avery-bradley-evaluating-his-season-and-projecting-next-year
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