Boston Celtics: Are They Better off with Jason Collins Than Greg Stiemsma?

Patrick BusconeSenior Analyst IJuly 24, 2012

ATLANTA, GA - MAY 01:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics drives against Jason Collins #34 of the Atlanta Hawks in Game Two of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals in the 2012 NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 1, 2012 in Atlanta, Georgia.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

A mere five hours after it was reported by ESPN Boston that the Celtics let Greg Stiemsma leave for the Minnesota Timberwolves, a report from the same source came out that the Celtics had signed veteran center Jason Collins.

In the deal with Collins, the Celtics will pay him slightly less than $1 million. Meanwhile, the Timberwolves will likely be paying just north of $2 million for Stiemsma's services.

Therefore, the Celtics are saving just about a million dollars on a reserve center. Was the bargain really worth it, though?

In most ways, Greg Stiemsma is a better player than Jason Collins at this point in both of their careers. Stiemsma is young and still developing while Collins is old and his game, quite frankly, is deteriorating.

Neither one is great on the offensive end, with Stiemsma having the slight edge averaging three points per game last season while Collins averaged only around one point per game. Also, Stiemsma has a much more effective mid-range jumper and is far more reliable at the free-throw line than Collins. 

Rebounding wise, Stiemsma also holds a slight edge over Collins in terms of both per game averages and rebounding percentage. 

In the playoffs, though, when the two went head-to-head, it was Collins who outplayed Stiemsma in both rebounding and scoring by posting 2.4 points and rebounds per game throughout the first round of the playoffs. 

At the end of the day, what really matters for a Celtics reserve big man the most is defense. Sure, rebounding and scoring are important, but for Celtics big men getting 10 or less minutes off the bench, their job description is prioritized like this: 1. defend 2. rebound 3. only score if you know you can. 

So far, we know that Stiemsma beats Collins in the bottom two priorities and that he is also a much better shot blocker. However, even though Stiemsma is better at turning shots away, Collins is still a better defender. 

According to the same ESPN article that announced the signing of Collins, he allowed just 0.748 points per play which puts him in the top 12 percent of all NBA players in terms of defense. 

Stiemsma, meanwhile, struggled at times in one-on-one situations against good big men. We must remember that when he wasn't blocking shots, he was picking up fouls (whether merited or not) or getting scored on. 

With all that considered, we must remember that we are talking about two players we only play around 10 minutes per game. This is by no means a Durant vs. LeBron debate, nor is it nearly as important. Still though, for the Celtics, it carries some weight as they essentially chose the older and less offensively inclined Collins over Stiemsma.

At the end of the day, the Celtics made the right move, not because Collins is a better player—because he's not—but because for the money and the role, he is better suited. 

Paying someone $2 million for 10 minutes of defense and rebounding a game is nonsensical, regardless of how much all of us Celtics fans liked Stiemsma. The Celtics made the smart move saving money on the seven-footer Jason Collins who can provide the necessary defense and rebounding in limited minutes. 

Now the Celtics still have their biannual exception to spend on another big man. By letting Stiemsma go, they can essentially get two good big men for the price of one. 

It's tough to say good-bye to a fan favorite like the Steamer, but his departure will benefit the Celtics.