Re-Grading Every Boston Celtics Offseason Acquisition
Just over a quarter of the way through the 2012-13 NBA season, it's obvious that the Boston Celtics' offseason acquisitions are and will continue to play an enormous role in dictating the team's success.
Some of those acquisitions have already lived up to the hype surrounding their arrivals in Boston, while others have started off slowly.
The Celtics are among the better teams in the NBA right now. If they hope to elevate themselves to the point of becoming a true contender, however, they'll need to figure out how to mesh all their new pieces together to optimize their talent.
The 2012 offseason was a busy one for the Celtics. Here's a progress report, 21 games into the season, grading each player acquired via trade, free agency or the draft.
Leandro Barbosa: B
Barbosa’s 13 minutes and 5.6 points per game this season are a far cry from his career averages, and probably not what many Celtics fans had in mind when the team signed the veteran scorer. At 30 years of age, however, Barbosa is playing an entirely different role in Boston, and actually filling it fairly well.
He has exploded for 15 or more points in limited playing time on four occasions this season, and the Celtics earned close victories in two of those games.
While he is a reputed offensive player, Barbosa’s defense has also garnered praise from Coach Doc Rivers. His ability to pressure opposing point guards during the few minutes Rajon Rondo spends on the bench each game is vital.
Barbosa must also be graded with cost-benefit value in mind, as the team is paying him just $854,000 this season.
Still, his recent play has been a bit discouraging. Barbosa has yet to score a point in the month of December, appearing in just two of the Celtics’ five games thus far.
Jason Terry: A-
At 35 years of age, “The Jet” clearly still has some fuel left in his engines.
A perpetual bench player over the second half of his career with the Dallas Mavericks, Terry has effectively stepped into a starting role in Boston. He has started 16 of the Celtics’ 21 games so far this season, and has played 40 minutes or more in three of the team’s last five games.
In the absence of Bradley, Terry’s ability to eat up those minutes has been huge. And it’s not like he’s just taking up space—his 11.4 points per game are by far the most of any new Celtics acquisition.
Terry has posted a couple duds this season—last week’s 1-12 shooting debacle against the Philadelphia 76ers immediately springs to mind—but his overall 45.1% shooting clip from the floor is very respectable.
He will likely return to the bench once Bradley is back, but Terry has already proven himself to be a vital part of this Celtics squad. And who knows, he could flourish even more when he returns to his usual sixth man duties.
Jared Sullinger: A-
Many felt that Sullinger was a steal for the Celtics, who snagged him with the 21st pick in the 2012 NBA draft. It looks like they were right.
The 20-year-old rookie’s 17.4 minutes per game are probably about half of what he can be expected to play as he matures. He’s averaging almost exactly half of a double-double (5.1 points, 4.9 rebounds) in the time he has been allotted.
More important than his projected impact, however, is what he brings to the team right now. Sullinger is strong on the boards, adds a big body to a Celtics squad that is desperate for one, and simply works hard. He hustles and is humble, and you really can’t ask for much more out of a rookie.
Of course, the fact that he is well on his way to becoming one of the Celtics’ most important scoring and rebounding threats doesn’t hurt, either.
Courtney Lee: C
Lee was arguably the most exciting offseason acquisition made by the Celtics, which naturally led to high expectations. So far, he hasn’t lived up to them.
Before getting into the negatives, it’s important to note that his solid defense at the guard position and slow-but-steady offensive production are very important to his team right now.
That said, Lee is leaving a lot to be desired. He has only posted double-digit points three times this season despite averaging about 24 minutes per game.
From beyond the arc, he has shown none of the ability that was present earlier in his career. Lee shot better than 40% from three in all but one of his first four seasons in the league. This year, he’s making just 28.1% of his three-point attempts.
Lee has played in every game for the Celtics so far this season, and clearly is being given time to adjust. He has a long way to go, however, if he hopes to live up to the four-year, $21.5 million sign-and-trade deal that brought him to Boston.
Jason Collins: D
When the Celtics signed the 34-year-old Collins over the summer, expectations weren’t high. It was clearly a move designed to pick up a veteran, role-playing big man who could help the team correct its weak rebounding.
Well, in order to do any of that, Collins would have to at least be on the floor. He has only played in four games this season, and the Celtics are the worst rebounding team in the NBA.
Part of Collins’ invisibility is due to the fact that Chris Wilcox has been effective as a big man off the bench, but there have been games in which Wilcox played only sparingly and Collins’ 7-foot frame should have been a factor.
Instead, the major thing Boston could hope to rely on him for—rebounds—remains the team’s greatest weakness.
Kris Joseph: B+
Joseph’s rookie stint in Boston was uneventful before being assigned to the D-League, but it’s not like the Celtics were banking on their second round draft pick to contribute this early.
The Syracuse product humbly accepted his role (or lack thereof) with the Celtics as well as his assignment to Portland. In Maine, he has been absolutely tearing it up to the tune of 20.8 points and 6.6 rebounds per game.
At this rate, it probably won’t be too long before Joseph is back in Boston and contributing to the Celtics in a major way.
Fab Melo: B-
Melo joined his former Syracuse teammate on assignment in Portland. He, too, immediately became a starter and has posted 6.8 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game thus far.
While Melo’s play isn’t spectacular, he’s done just fine in terms of what is expected of him. He’s a raw talent that will need some time to develop, and the Celtics appear to be fine with giving it to him.
If he can continue his development in Maine, Melo could find himself back in the NBA with a prominent job in the Celtics’ frontcourt before long.
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