ESPN’s John Hollinger has published his 2012 scouting reports and player profiles for the Celtics.
For those of you without ESPN Insider Access, I’ve pulled out some of the more interesting (good and bad) analysis.
One of the league’s most unique players, Rondo is either great or horrible at nearly everything, producing wildly divergent viewpoints as to his overall value. In the same season, he was passed over in favor of Luol Deng for the All-Star team and named on eight MVP ballots…
The general consensus was that Rondo’s defense slipped a bit last season, that he gambled too much and his effort wavered. While opposing point guards mustered just a 10.9 PER against him, Boston gave up more points with him on the court, and his foul rate was so low (barely one every 20 minutes) that it supported the idea that he was saving himself for the offensive end. His steals rate was also a career low, although still well above par for his position.
Bradley actually didn’t have an unusually high steal rate, as he didn’t take gambles off the ball, but on it he routinely devoured dribblers with his outstanding lateral quickness. Bradley had some of the best Synergy scores at his position and held opposing guards to barely double digit PERs; the Celtics also gave up 4.4 points per 100 possessions less with him on the court. Opposing 2s occasionally found success attacking him in the post, but even there he did a fairly solid job.
Pierce turns 35 in October and will likely begin showing signs of age at some point. We just don’t know when that will be. Last season, he actually took on a much greater offensive load given the struggles of Boston’s secondary players, ranking fourth among small forwards in usage rate, and it didn’t seem to hurt him. Pierce’s TS% dropped, understandably, but he still finished a solid eighth among small forwards in this category and belied his age by converting 64.8 percent at the rim. He also still draws fouls like nobody’s business, ranking fourth in free throw rate at his position despite shooting mostly jumpers.
When Garnett finished the first month of the season, he couldn’t jump and was noticeably dragging his leg. But as the year went on, he turned into the KG of old, abetted by a midseason shift to center. His season-ending stats were nearly the same as the year before, although he continued his drift to the perimeter. Nearly two-thirds of his shots were beyond 10 feet, and he converted an excellent 45.9 percent of them. However, Garnett took advantage of his length, especially in the playoffs — he went to the post much more often for short-range turnarounds and showed he can still be extremely effective from that spot.
Defensively, Bass had some of the highest Synergy ratings in the NBA last season, but subjective observation and other metrics fail to back that up. The Celtics gave up more points with him on the court than off of it, and opposing power forwards had a 13.7 PER against him — solid but hardly exceptional given the elite defensive team surrounding him. He’s tough and he’s become much sharper situationally than when he first got to Orlando, but it’s hard to rate him as more than a midtier defender at this spot.
The biggest negative, offensively, is that Terry’s turnover ratio keeps climbing. A jump shooter shouldn’t be in the bottom half of shooting guards in turnover ratio, but Terry was last season.
Nonetheless, his primary shortcoming is at the defensive end. Terry has to cross-match defensively and check the opposing point guard, but quicker players can get by him and bigger ones play right over the top. His rebound rates are among the worst in basketball, although he doesn’t foul — only Steve Nash was whistled less often last season (see chart). Boston’s personnel should allow Terry to keep cross-matching, and if so he’ll continue to be very effective in his sixth man role.
Hollinger isn’t too high on Jeff Green and Courtney Lee. He thinks the Celtics overpaid for both (Green’s contract “boggles the mind”). He also points out that Lee is much better on paper and his defensive reputation outweighs the results on the court.