Now that we’ve officially hit the 1 week mark of the regular season, I’m going to begin a weekly column where I churn through the trends of the regular season. We, all at this point, know that it’s not going to be a great season for the Celtics but it’s still important to point out some important developments that are being displayed. Guys like Vitor Faverani, Jordan Crawford and Jeff Green have stood out to me as the best three players in these 4 games and we’re going to take a look at one good thing each of them are doing.
*Note: Any base stat or advanced metric cited should be taken with the context that there really isn’t a large sample size to work with and may or not be completely representative of what is true*
Jeff Green Post ups:
Green has the unfortunate job of being the best player on a team with no credible passers and limited shooters. Such factors have led to difficulties in him finding enough shot opportunities in the half court. In Boston’s loss against Memphis, Jeff scored an efficient 22 points on just 11 shots and it begged the question “Why is he only getting 11 shots?”. Jeff’s strength as scorer is spotting up in the either corner — preferably the left — or running in transition — he’s scored on 9 of 10 transition opportunities so far in 4 games — though the former has been a struggle for him. Last season Green was able to shoot about 48% on 258 shot attempts that Synergy Sports defined as being spot up attempts while in the first four games of this season the number has dropped down to 36% — The tracking system SportVU, which may have a different way of categorization “spot ups”, has Jeff’s Catch and Shoot FG% at 33%.
It’s definitely been more of a struggle for Jeff to find room on a court where he is no longer able to take advantage of being open as a result of a double team and the lack of a point guard has made kick out opportunities scarce at best. So what’s the solution if he can’t get out in transition enough — Boston is dead last in pace averaging 93 possessions a game — or find open jumpers? POST UPS.
Conventional wisdom would say that they should just run more, and they should, but this is a team that’s turning the ball over a league high rate and until that problem is fixed it makes sense to lessen your opportunities to turn it over more.
It’s a small sample size but so far through 4 games Jeff is 4-7 on post up shots per Synergy Sports. It may or may not be a sustainable mark but I certainly think it’s a better late game half court option than Bradley/Bass 1-4 pick-and-rolls.
Jordan Crawford’s Efficiency:
I’m only half kidding when I say that Jordan Crawford has been one of the Celtics’ most efficient offensive players. Seriously though look at these stats from basketballreference:
STEEZ is playing like a man who is trying to get rid of the “inefficient gunner” tag that he’s been stuck with for most of his career. He’s still hilariously awkward in the shots he takes and his defense leaves something to be desired but he’s been the most reliable ball handler the Celtics have had so far. Plus every now and then he hits a 30 foot jumper that makes Celtics Twitter collectively yell “ST33Z”. So keep on Steezin’, Crawford.
Everything Vitor Faverani, a.k.a God, does:
Show of hands of who thought a guy named “Vitor” would be one of the best rookies through the 1st week of the season? Seriously, I really don’t think anyone thought this guy would play so well. His abilities were largely a mystery until the preseason started. Now it looks like that the Celtics have found their best interior defender.
I don’t even think this is a case of small sample size; Vitor has some legitimate skills as a pick-and-roll defender and he’s got a soft hook shot in the post. Oh and did I mention that his nickname is “El Hombre Indestructible”? For those who don’t speak Spanish, it translates in English to “The Indestructible Man”. Yeah this guy is legit.
Turnovers, Turnovers and Oh Look, Some More Turnovers!:
As a fan that is cognizant of the lack of talent on this squad and is very understanding of their being downright horrible; I’m able to deal with a lot of the bad and necessary evils but turning it over almost 22 times a game is damn near unbearable. The Avery Bradley experiment at point guard should be over. He’s averaging 4.2 turnovers per 36 and has a 21% TOV% — turnovers per 100 plays. He’s not cut out for the position and this could really stunt his development while also lowering his confidence. Ideally Gerald Wallace should be coming off the bench — we’ll talk about why later — and Crawford should be starting alongsie Avery to at least get the ball out of his hands. It might not completely fix the problem but it will serve a greater purpose in the long run.
Gerald Wallace is Padding His FG% by Not Shooting:
Gerald Wallace has called out this team twice already this season, lamenting that there are guys on the team who are “padding their stats”. Though I think the opposite of “padding stats” would be best to describe what Gerald Wallace is doing in the early stages of this season.
According to NBA’s Player Tracking data, Wallace has a total of 193 touches so far in four games — 48.3 per games — and of those 193 touches he’s only shot the ball 16 times on the season. 16 TIMES. Among players who average at least 35 touches a game, Gerald Wallace’s points per game is the 12th worst and he’s only scoring 0.11 points per touch — which isn’t good. He’s played solid defense but he’s only facilitating the spacing problem by not shooting. Defenders barely even guard him anymore and it’s almost time for him to either shoot more often or for Stevens to make some changes to the starting lineup/rotation.
The Daily 4th Quarter Collaspes:
One of the few fun things about this team is how well they play out of the gate. So far in the 1st Quarter of games they’re scoring 107 points per 100 possessions compared to their overall offensive rating of 93.2. The problem is for whatever reason they just can’t sustain it for 48 minutes. In the 4th Quarter of games Boston has been outscored by 109-66. That’s definitely something to keep an eye on for this coming week.