Boston Celtics: Grading the Celtics in All Areas
With the Boston Celtics' roster essentially complete (they still need to finalize Jeff Green's contract and decide whether or not either Dionte Christmas or Jamar Smith will make the team), I think it's time to delve into how effective the team is going to be in all of the "skill" areas (i.e. low-post offense, outside shooting, rebounding, etc.).
The Celtics certainly have a very balanced roster, as they have depth at all positions and different types of players who complement each other very well and can beat you in many different ways.
So, let's not wait any longer. Let's start grading Boston in all of these areas.
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Not many teams have one pure low-post scorer on their roster, let alone two.
The Celtics have Kevin Garnett, who still takes a shot that is facing extinction: the turn-around. And my goodness, does he do it efficiently.
Garnett has one of the most deadly turn-around jump shots in the game, particularly when he spins baseline. He also shoots the baby hook in the lane very well, further cementing him as one of the best back-to-the-basket players in the game.
Joining K.G. in the paint will be rookie Jared Sullinger. While he has not played a single minute in an actual NBA game yet, his ability to score in the low post is unquestioned, as he was probably the best pure post scorer in the draft.
Not only is he simply big at 265 lbs, he also possesses very good footwork down low, making him a lethal threat down there.
With Garnett and Sullinger in tow, the C's should have no problem operating in the post this coming season.
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I could really bump this up to an "A" given how incredible Garnett and Brandon Bass are at knocking down the mid-range shot, but Rajon Rondo's inability to consistently hit from the perimeter forced my hand.
The Celtics lost the all-time three-point leader in Ray Allen, but they acquired Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, two very effective long-range shooters (they shot 37.8 percent and 40.1 percent from three in 2012, respectively).
They still have Paul Pierce—not to mention that Avery Bradley has developed a very reliable corner three. Believe it or not, Bradley shot at a 40.7 percent clip from beyond the arc this past season, and this is from a guy who supposedly couldn't shoot.
Even with Allen's departure, Boston should have no issues knocking down some threes this coming year, and as I stated earlier, you know K.G. and Bass are going to be dependable shooters in the pick-and-roll game.
Point Guard Play
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This is pretty much a no-brainer.
The Celtics have one of the game's elite point guards in Rondo, someone who can lead the fast break, break down the defense and display floor vision like no other. Rondo is also a very good defender at the point guard position.
Sure, it would be nice if he could shoot, but the guy can still dominate a game.
When Rondo goes to the bench, expect Terry and Keyon Dooling to handle floor general duties.
The Celtics aren't an incredible fast-break team, as Garnett and Pierce just don't possess the type of athleticism they once did and Rondo isn't exactly the greatest finisher around the basket.
Still, Rondo's aforementioned court vision is enough to get Boston a "B+" here, and the return of Chris Wilcox will help him tremendously in transition (remember all of those alley-oops Wilcox was catching from Rondo before undergoing heart surgery this past season?).
Also, Terry is, surprisingly, a very good player on the break, and Lee is also reliable in the open court.
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You want to know why I gave the Celtics a full "A" for interior defense? Because they signed Jason Collins.
Yes, Boston already has Garnett, arguably the best defender in the game, period, but Collins is one of the league's best low-post defenders. Former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy once stated that Collins defended Dwight Howard better than anyone in the NBA, and that is obviously humongous praise.
The C's signed Collins for one thing: to defend the likes of Howard, Andrew Bynum and Marc Gasol. Now, K.G. doesn't have to tire himself out by banging with those bigs in the post. He has Collins to help him there.
First-round draft pick Fab Melo could definitely become a big part of the Celtics' interior defense also, as he stands seven feet tall, weighs 255 lbs and has good shot-blocking prowess.
Still, it will take some time to integrate him into the defensive scheme, especially considering he played Jim Boeheim's zone defense at Syracuse.
As far as the rest of Boston's big men go, Wilcox is decent, as he has size and length, but he is far from intimidating down low.
Sullinger just doesn't have the physical tools to ever be much more than a Glen Davis-type defender.
No matter, though. As long as Garnett and Collins are up to task, the C's won't need much else down there.
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I didn't even plan on giving A-plusses when I started writing this article, as I was going to use the "A" as the maximum grade. However, with Bradley, Rondo and Lee back there, I have to give Boston an absolutely perfect mark.
One can make a legitimate argument that Bradley is the best perimeter defender in the game, and one can also make the argument that Rondo is the league's best defensive point guard.
As for Lee, he isn't elite, but he is a very good defender.
That three-headed monster is going to be a thorn in the other 29 teams' sides in 2012-13.
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This is one area where the Celtics might struggle a bit this coming season.
They did draft Sullinger, and that should remedy the problem somewhat, but outside of he and Garnett, Boston doesn't have any consistently reliable rebounders down low.
While Rondo is one of the best rebounding guards in the NBA, you shouldn't have to depend on him to be one of your best guys on the glass.
Hopefully, Sullinger can be an animal on the boards, because as much as I like Bass and Wilcox, neither is that type of player.
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There is no doubt that Doc Rivers is one of the game's best, and the fact that so many guys want to play for him is a telltale sign of his validity as an elite coach.
Not only is Rivers a good tactician—he is an unbelievably good motivator, and all of his players love and respect him for it.
I don't have anything else to add. We all know what a phenomenal coach Doc is.