Archive for September, 2012

Irish Coffee: Did the Celtics solve rebounding woes?

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Last season, the Celtics ranked dead last in the NBA in total rebounds per game and third-to-last in both rebound differential and rebounding percentage. Not good. Not good at all. So, what did they do to improve those woes?

The short answer: Not much. The long answer? Well, that’s what we hope to explain here. First, the C’s issues.

  • Rebounds per game: 38.8 (30th)
  • Offensive rebounds per game: 7.7 (30th)
  • Defensive rebounds per game: 31.1 (14th!)
  • Rebounding percentage: 47.3 (28th)
  • Offensive rebounding percentage: 19.7 (30th)
  • Defensive rebounding percentage: 72.4 (20th)
  • Opponents’ rebounds per game: 43.2 (21st)
  • Rebound differential: -4.4 (28th)

The Celtics ranked in the top half of the NBA in just one category: Defensive rebounding, and even then they’re a middling bunch. The C’s had only two players among the league’s top 50 rebounders — Kevin Garnett (23rd) and Brandon Bass (48th) — while a team like the Lakers owned two of the NBA’s top 10 best window washers.

Things didn’t get much better in the playoffs. The C’s ranked 13th out of 16 teams in rebounds per game, 12th in opponents’ rebounds per game and 14th in rebound differential. And they ranked ninth in defensive rebounding rate, third-to-last in total rebounding rate and dead last in offensive rebounding rate. Bad, worse and terrible.

The good news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. The bad news: Both Garnett and Bass still anchor the C’s backcourt. While Garnett’s rebounding rate has been in fairly steady decline since he arrived in Boston, he averaged more than a rebound better once he moved to center (8.7 per game) than he did as the team’s starting power forward (7.5 per game). However, the rebounding numbers for Bass changed little during his move from the bench (6.1 in 27.9 minutes per game) to the starting lineup (6.2 in 33.6 minutes per game).

The Celtics feature the best rebounding point guard in the game (Rajon Rondo‘s average of 4.8 boards per game even surpassed 6-foot-6 Kings point Tyreke Evans), and Paul Pierce ranked among the 10 best rebounders at his position last season, but neither helped matters much last season. So, where can the C’s improve?

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Roster breakdown: C’s offer new twist on old formula

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

Kevin Garnett will man the middle again for the Celtics, but he will have nine new teammates. (AP)

When the season ended, Celtics team president Danny Ainge was looking at a roster with four players under contract and $32 million in guaranteed salaries. Over the next few months, Ainge acquired, drafted or re-signed 13 players. He handed out contracts worth more than $40 million for next season that not only rebuilt the roster but also carried implications into the next two years beyond this one.

The prevailing opinion is that Ainge is continuing the current run and in many ways he is. After all, Kevin Garnett’s return essentially ensured that direction. But while Ainge was bringing (most of) the band back together, three of his free agents signed with other teams. One of those, obviously, was Ray Allen, whose defection to Miami caused Ainge and his staff to summon a long-shot Plan B that may in the long run prove to have been a better course of action.

Without Allen, Ainge traded four players and a draft choice and let the clock run out on two other veteran free agents. The move landed Courtney Lee, a versatile defensive-minded wing player who doesn’t need the ball to be successful offensively and who also happens to be a decade younger than Allen.

Ainge signed the equivalent of two mid-level caliber free agents in Jason Terry and Lee, and added a third veteran in Jason Collins, who agreed to play for the minimum. He also brought back Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green and added five rookies who have a legitimate shot at making the team, including first-round pick Jared Sullinger, who could play legitimate minutes.

Someone will be the odd man out from a group that includes second-round pick Kris Joseph and summer league finds Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith, but in all the Celtics will have nine different players than the team that took Miami to seven games in the Eastern Conference finals. Even with the Terry on board, they will also be younger thanks to Lee, Green and the rookies.

While Ainge kept the Rajon Rondo-Paul Pierce-Garnett trio in place as the core of the team, he completely remade the rotation and turned over roster spots that had been held by middling – at best — veterans in favor of younger prospects. It’s a continuation combined with an acknowledgement that grit and balls only can take you so far.

Here are five takeaways from the summer moves: (more…)