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Stat man: The Phil Pressey factor

10.10.13 at 12:25 pm ET

Forget about Chris Babb, the Celtics‘ training camp invitee whose plus-20 rating in eight fourth-quarter minutes stole the show against the Knicks, because based on the current projected salary structure the C’s can’t sign him. As a result, the most impressive player on the roster Wednesday night was backup point guard Phil Pressey.

The son of former Celtics assistant coach Paul Pressey didn’t even get on the Garden floor in Game 1 of the preseason, but sadly a death in Jordan Crawford‘s family opened the door for the Missouri product to get minutes behind Avery Bradley. And Pressey basically submitted a flawless performance in his first NBA appearance.

The former Waltham star’s straight stat line — 13 points on five shots, seven assists against zero turnovers, three rebounds and two steals in 28:05 — is impressive in its own right, and it gets better the deeper you dive into it.

After a failed first-quarter 3-pointer, Pressey didn’t miss again, draining a 19-footer and three layups. Those trips to the rim and four more drawn fouls in the lane — leading to three trips to the line and 5-of-6 free throws — suggest his height may not be as big an obstacle as the 30 teams who passed over him in the draft (twice) initially thought.

Meanwhile, Pressey’s seven assists produced 18 points. Feeding teammates inside and out, those dimes led to four treys, a pair of layups and just one mid-range jumper — all good signs in today’s NBA. Of the C’s 25 field goals when he was on the floor, Pressey either scored or assisted on 11 of them (44 percent).

The height should present more of a problem for him on the defensive end, where he committed three personal fouls against New York’s bigger point guards. Competing mainly opposite Beno Udrih — in addition to a handful of minutes against Knicks starter Raymond Felton and J.R.’s brother Chris Smith (a long-shot to make the roster) — Pressey forced his assignment into difficult shots, holding opposing point guards to six points on 3-of-11 shooting. Those 11 field goal attempts: 1-of-2 layups, 2-of-7 jumpers and 0-of-2 triples, including a throwaway 52-foot buzzer beating attempt in third quarter. Likewise, the five assists (against one turnover) from Knicks point guards versus Pressey led to a pair of 3-pointers, two mid-range jumpers and only one layup.

In other words, Pressey outperformed anybody the Knicks threw at him — scoring more efficiently, setting up easier shots for his teammates and taking care of the ball better — and Celtics coach Brad Stevens couldn’t help but take notice that Pressey is probably the best point guard not named Rajon Rondo on the roster.

‘€œPhil’€™s going to find time if he keeps doing what he’€™s doing,” Stevens told reporters after the loss. “Now, the challenge is in responding to a night where you have a little success, and then responding the nights where you don’€™t and just maintaining an evenness about you. The one thing about Phil is that Phil gets in the gym … and he doesn’€™t leave the gym early. He’s a guy that can make plays for other people and he made us better tonight.”

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