|Irish Coffee: Celtics weekly report card||01.06.12 at 12:12 pm ET|
Given that NBA teams cram 66 games into just over four months, each of this season’s 17 weeks becomes like an NFL week. As NFL writers are wont to do, we’ll start a new series of Celtics report cards each Friday. After an 0-3 start capped by a loss to a woeful Hornets team, the C’s have won four straight — albeit against three D-League NBA clubs with a combined 3-16 record. That being said, let’s get to the grades.
BRANDON BASS: A+
If you thought Glen Davis was a Sixth Man of the Year candidate last season, get a load of Bass so far this year. In 28 minutes a night, he’s averaging 14.0 points and 6.6 boards, shooting 61.5 percent from 10-15 feet and 66.0 percent from 16-23 feet. His consistency in a new system has been remarkable. In just a few short weeks, Bass has helped create that valuable spacing for which Doc Rivers strives and already assumed the second crunch-time big role alongside Kevin Garnett.
RAY ALLEN: A
You can’t blame the man for missing a game because of the flu. In six games, he’s averaging a team-leading 20.0 points on sizzling 61.1 percent 3-point shooting. His 51.5 percent shooting from inside the arc isn’t too shabby, either, but three missed free throws is very un-Shuttlesworth-like (picking nits). Could this be the season Allen finally achieves his Holy Trinity of Shooting (50 FG%-40 3P%-90 FT%)? Allen gets paid to shoot the rock and run opposing two guards ragged. Mission accomplished.
RAJON RONDO: A-
If not for the turnover issue (4.4 per game), Rondo has been exceptional, brushing off the constant trade rumors during training camp and beginning this season as he did the last. His league-leading 10.7 assists a night speak for themselves. Rondo’s 53.9 field goal percentage ranks third among point guards, and at least for now his 44.0 percent shooting from 16-23 feet and 42.9 3-point percentage are more than respectable. If you can get this Rajon Rondo for a full 66-game season, another Atlantic Division title should be in the cards.
GREG STIEMSMA: A-
The welcome surprise of the season for the Celtics so far, Stiemsma has already exceeded everyone’s expectations through the first two weeks of the season. He might not be Bill Russell, as Tommy Heinsohn suggested, but he’s averaging almost as many blocks per night (2.6) as Dwight Howard (2.7). The Stiemer’s ability to knock down a 15-foot jump shot, as evidenced during his 13-point outburst in the second leg of a home-and-home with the Wizards, is the biggest and best revelation.
KEVIN GARNETT: A-
Rivers wants more than 10 field goal attempts a night from Garnett, especially if he keeps shooting 56.3 percent from the floor. The Celtics coach would probably like a rebound rate higher than 15 percent, too. Nights like his 24 points and nine rebounds against the Wizards one night remind you who KG really is, but his eight and three against the Pistons another night suggest he probably can’t be that productive regularly — a la the Heat series. His averages are about right, but a little more consistency would benefit the C’s more.
PAUL PIERCE: B+
When Pierce has been on the floor, he’s been an A-plus and beyond. In only 29 minutes a night, he’s producing 16.5 points (almost 50% from 3), 6.0 rebounds and 4.3 assists. The Celtics are 4-0 when their captain plays, but there has to be at least some concern that Pierce began the season with a foot injury.
KEYON DOOLING: B
Through seven games, Dooling has proven to be a better shooter (40.9 3P%) than I anticipated, but his assist-to-turnover ratio (1.4-1.9) needs to improve. In his past three seasons, in Milwaukee and New Jersey, he’s committed significantly fewer turnovers and owned a 30-plus percent assist rate — twice as high as he’s produced so far this year (15.8).
AVERY BRADLEY: C
If not for his breakthrough night against the Nets on Wednesday, when Bradley seemingly figured out the Tony Allen-esque role the Celtics have been hoping he’d fill, this grade would be an F. Prior to scoring 11 points, including his first career 3-pointer, he ranked among the league’s worst guards in scoring, true shooting percentage, wins added, value added, win score, usage rate and assist rate. Whether or not his most recent effort catapults his confidence and helps him reach his potential remains to be seen.
JERMAINE O’NEAL: C-
Since dropping 19 points and seven boards in 29 minutes against the Pistons, as if by clockwork, O’Neal has battled a hamstring injury and totaled only 10 points and eight boards in 41 minutes over two games sandwiched around a DNP against the Wizards. Even before the injury bug bit him again, he was shaky — as evidence by his zero-point, one-rebound game in 22 minutes against the Heat. So far, O’Neal hasn’t lived up to his billing as training camp MVP.MARQUIS DANIELS: D+
Daniels was another training camp hero, and the Celtics set high expectations after celebrating his health following spinal surgery. Yet, he’s shooting just 27.7 percent from the floor. His statistical averages (4.6 PTS, 2.6 REB, 1.7 AST) are similar to what he’s produced for the Celtics over the last two seasons and the effort is there on defense, but Daniels hasn’t had a serious impact on any game yet.
E’TWAUN MOORE: D+
Selected late in the second round, Moore’s spot on the Celtics roster wasn’t even a given, so the fact that he’s seen minutes in five of the team’s seven games is something. However, in his limited action, he hadn’t done much until scoring five points on 2-of-3 shooting in garbage time against the Nets.
CHRIS WILCOX: D
Not for lack of effort, but it’s evident Wilcox hasn’t assimilated into his new team’s schemes like Bass has. Part of that may be the result of a shoulder injury that kept him out of three games. Still, the Celtics need more than 1.0 points and 3.0 rebounds a night out of a guy who they handed the $3 million mini mid-level exception.
SASHA PAVLOVIC: D-
At this point, there should be odds on whether Pavlovic survives the season in a Celtics uniform. Despite starting the first three games, his best performance is a seven-point, four-rebound performance in a 97-78 loss to the Hornets. And get this: He hasn’t scored yet in January, a month that has included a pair of DNPs for him.
JAJUAN JOHNSON: F
The C’s first-round pick, Johnson remains the last man on the depth chart. Rivers has received his share of criticism for not playing his young guys, but trust me: If the 6-foot-10 Johnson could contribute anything, he’d have seen more than garbage minutes in four of the team’s seven games. There’s plenty of time left for him to adjust — and he’s trying like hell — but he’s just not ready yet.
(Have a question, concern or conception for tomorrow’s Irish Coffee? Send a message to @brohrbach on Twitter.)
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