Since trading for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, the Boston Celtics have been constant championship threat to other teams. Although this season they have dropped a bit sitting in fourth place in the East, they are still a legitimate title contender. With 3 all-stars this season and one future hall of famer who didn't quite make the all-star game they are a tough match up for any team. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett are the star players for this team and could be for most teams. Which one do I think has performed the best this year? Let's find out.
Paul Pierce AKA The Truth is the teams captain and leader. Pierce is the only one of the Celtics' stars to have been with the team through the bad times. He is the teams leading scorer and is often the guy given the ball in clutch situations when the game's nearing it's end, or when the Celtics really need a basket. He has a deadly step back jumper and is this years NBA 3 Point champ and is someone anyone would love to have on their team.
Pierce currently leads the Celtics in points with 18.1 points per game. He also pitches in 4.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Pierce has been criticized often for taking questionable shots, but this season The Truth has shot high percentages from the field (.467), the line (.851) and from behind the arc (.416). This is Pierce's lowest scoring season since his rookie year, but he is shooting career highs in percentages from three point and free throws while having his second best percentage from the field ever.
Pierce is clearly one of the emotional leaders on this team, but many say he is past his prime and can't get it done when he needs to anymore.
Nicest form in the league, the purest shot ever seen, quick release, deadly stroke, best shooter of all time. These are only a few of the terms used to describe Ray Allen and his jump shot. Sitting second to only Reggie Miller in all time three point shots made, Ray is the Celtics' best outside shooter and is who they go to when they need a three. Don't get me wrong, he can get to the hoop as well as almost anyone, but we all know Ray Allen for his outside shot.
Also like Pierce, Allen is having his lowest scoring year since his rookie season. Part of this is due to the wide array of talent on the Celtics, but both players have slowed down nearing the end of their careers. Allen is second on the team in scoring with 16.2 points per game. He also adds around three rebounds and three assists every game and also throws in a steal or two every now and then. He is currently second in the league in free throw percentage among players who have attempted over 200 free three throws at .915 percent.
Despite a shaky start to the year and multiple trade rumors, Ray Allen has fought through the adversity and has had a great second half to the year including a 33 point game in a close victory against the first place Cleveland Cavaliers. Whether he has been their best player or not he has been a very important part of the team.
After being an all-star for the first time in his career, Rajon Rondo is having a great season. In only his fourth year in the league, Rondo has developed into one of the league's premier point guards. He has had career highs this year in points per game, assists, steals, minutes and field goal percentage. He is one of the best in the league defending other point guards and is quick as a cat taking the ball to the hoop.
Although only fourth on the team in scoring with 13.7 points per game, Rondo is still considered one of the team's best players. Why you ask? Because scoring is not his job on the team. Rondo leads the Celtics with 9.8 assists per game where he sits fourth in all of the NBA. When Rondo does a good job of distributing the ball, (which is most of the time) the Celtics win, simple as that. In games he has had over ten assists this season the Celtics are 33-12.
Not only does he do a good job of passing the ball, but he is a great defender which leads to many fast break points. Rondo currently leads the league in steals per game with 2.38 which is 0.17 ahead of second and a whole 0.48 ahead of third. Often under valued by fans and media, Rondo is one of the biggest pieces to the puzzle that is the Boston Celtics.
Probably the most intense and passionate player in all of the NBA, Kevin Garnett is the catalyst for the team's defense. Former NBA champion, NBA MVP, NBA defensive player of the year, Olympic Gold Medalist and a 13 time NBA All-Star, Kevin Garnett has had the best career among all of the Celtics.
Garnett seems to be in the same position as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, still a very good player, but on the decline. His last two seasons have been plagued with injury and Garnett is having his worst year scoring the ball (14.4 per game) and rebounding (7.3 per game) since his rookie year, and his worst year when it comes to steals, assists and blocked shots ever.
What Kevin Garnett gives to this team isn't all in the stat sheet. He provides leadership and intensity that not many other players in the league can match. He is a huge part of the Celtics when healthy and is one of the best power forwards in the history of the NBA.
Although not the team's best shooter, I believe Rajon Rondo has been the best player on the Celtics this season. His wide skill range creates havoc for the opposing defenses.
Many say he can't score, only has high assist totals because of the players he plays with and he is a weak link in their offense. Well here's what I say to that.
13.7 points per game is nothing to be ashamed of, he puts up a good amount of points each game, shoots over fifty percent from the field and has had one game of thirty points this year and thirteen games over twenty points which shows he can score the ball when he needs to. His quick speed makes him a fantastic defender which is why he leads the league in steals. If it wasn't for Dwight Howard, Rondo would be a legitimate contender for the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
So there you have it, if Rondo can do the same thing he did in last year's playoffs averaging almost a triple double, the Celtics will have a good shot to go deep into the playoffs in a year where it might be their last chance to do so with the same core team they have.