Boston Celtics: How C’s bench compares to others during the Brad Stevens era

Boston Celtics (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images)
Boston Celtics (Photo by Nuccio DiNuzzo/Getty Images) /

Today, the Houdini takes a trip down memory lane and compares the 2019-20 Boston Celtics bench to those during the past seven seasons of the Brad Stevens era.

Coming into the 2019-20 season, the Boston Celtics’ bench appeared to have the makings of one of the team’s biggest strengths.

With Swiss Army man Marcus Smart & the newly acquired offensive-oriented center Enes Kanter leading the charge, followed by promising second-year big man Robert Williams and an influx of talented rookies such as Carsen Edwards, Romeo Langford, Grant Williams, and Tremont Waters, the Celtics easily looked to roster one of the most highly touted second units coming into the campaign.

Now, as we approach nearly nine months since the start of Boston’s season we see that, though hope was quite high, execution, for the most part, has been unbelievably low.

While Smart finds himself in the midst of arguably his best season in the NBA — averaging 13.5 points, 4.8 assists, 3.8 boards, and 1.6 steals per game on 35 percent shooting from deep –, the remaining players within the second unit crew have been injury-riddled, in and out of the G-League, or simply have underwhelmed seemingly all year long.

As we head into the Disney bubble, many Boston Celtics fans have expressed their concerns over the bench’s lackluster performance, and are vocally worried about how this may impact the team’s successes as they embark on their quest for banner number 18 come the postseason.

Frankly, having a strong bench is always a plus for any team, but as the Cs have shown during the past seven years — i.e. the Brad Stevens era — they can find success regardless. In fact, if we really looked into their overall production, one would find that this year’s second unit is not too different than those of years past.

Below, we present to you Boston’s bench rankings amonsgt other in the league and specific statistics spanning from Brad Stevens’ first season with the team back in 2013-14 all the way to this current campaign, along with their record and their playoff successes (if applicable):

2013-14 Season

  • Offensive stats 
    • Points Per Game: 30.1 (Ranked 19th)
    • Field Goal Percentage: 43.5 (Ranked 17th)
    • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 31.3 (Ranked 27th)
    • Offensive Rating: 51.9 (Ranked 18th)
  • Defensive Stats
    • Steals: 3.0 (Ranked 7th)
    • Blocks: 1.5 (Ranked 18th)
    • Defensive Rating: 52.9
      • Record: 25-57
      • Playoffs: N/A

2014-15 Season

  • Offensive stats
    • Points Per Game: 41.4 (Ranked 1st)
    • Field Goal Percentage: 43.3 (Ranked 16th)
    • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 33.7 (Ranked 16th)
    • Offensive Rating: 56.2 (Ranked 7th)
  • Defensive Stats
    • Steals: 3.5 (Ranked 3rd)
    • Blocks: 1.6 (Ranked 16th)
    • Defensive Rating: 53.8 (Ranked 13th)
      • Record: 40-42
      • Playoffs: Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

2015-16 Season

  • Offensive Stats
    • Points Per Game: 37.7 (Ranked 6th)
    • Field Goal Percentage: 42.5 (Ranked 25th)
    • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 31.9 (Ranked 25th)
    • Offensive Rating: 55.7 (Ranked 11th)
  • Defensive Stats
    • Steals: 3.4 (Ranked 4th)
    • Blocks: 1.7 (Ranked 16th)
    • Defensive Rating: 54.9 (Ranked 12th)
      • Record: 48-34
      • Playoffs: Lost in Eastern Conference Quarterfinals

2016-17 Season

  •  Offensive Stats
    • Points Per Game: 32.7 (Ranked 22nd)
    • Field Goal Percentage: 42.4 (Ranked 27th)
    • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 32.6 (Ranked 25th)
    • Offensive Rating: 52.4 (Ranked 28th)
  • Defensive Stats
    • Steals: 2.7 (Ranked 20th)
    • Blocks: 1.5 (Ranked 21st)
    • Defensive Rating: 53.2 (Ranked 7th)
      • Record: 53-29
      • Playoffs: Lost in Eastern Conference Finals

2017-18 Season

  • Offensive Stats
    • Points Per Game: 34.6 (Ranked 18th)
    • Field Goal Percentage: 41.5 (Ranked 30th)
    • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 33.8 (Ranked 26th)
    • Offensive Rating: 53.0 (Ranked 24th)
  • Defensive Stats
    • Steals: 3.2 (Ranked 5th)
    • Blocks: 1.4 (Ranked 23rd)
    • Defensive Rating: 53.5 (Ranked 7th)
      • Record: 55-27
      • Playoffs: Lost in Eastern Conference Finals

2018-19 Season

  • Offensive Stats
    • Points Per Game: 39.3 (Ranked 9th)
    • Field Goal Percentage: 45.9 (Ranked 5th)
    • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 35.4 (Ranked 8th)
    • Offensive Rating: 56.8 (Ranked 18th)
  • Defensive Stats
    • Steals: 2.8 (Ranked 13th)
    • Blocks: 2.2 (Ranked 8th)
    • Defensive Rating: 55.0 (Ranked 10th)
      • Record: 49-33
      • Playoffs: Lost in Eastern Conference Semifinals

2019-20 Season

  • Offensive Stats
    • Points Per Game: 27.2 (Ranked 29th)
    • Field Goal Percentage: 44.9 (Ranked 16th)
    • 3-Point Field Goal Percentage: 31.6 (Ranked 27th)
    • Offensive Rating: 52.3 (Ranked 22nd)
  • Defensive Stats
    • Steals: 3.1 (Ranked 8th)
    • Blocks: 2.2 (Ranked 6th)
    • Defensive Rating: 50.8 (Ranked 3rd)
      • Record: 43-21 (and counting)
      • Playoffs: To Be Determined

As it has been well documented all season, the Boston Celtics’ bench has been unequivocally underwhelming in 2019-20. At this point, it’s not just an opinion… it’s a fact.

That said, they still have managed to best their field goal percentage and even rank higher in offensive rating than they did during the 2016-17 & 2017-18 seasons, both of which saw the shamrocks venture all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, with the latter appearance seeing them come to within just minutes of reaching their first NBA Finals since 2010.

Defensively, the C’s second unit has actually proven to be the best its been in quite some time during Stevens’ tenure. Seeing their highest defensive rating and blocks per game averages from over the past seven seasons while also boasting the fifth-best steals per game numbers, it’s evident that the unit has been highly efficient on the less glamorous side of the ball this year.

To sum things up, do we believe Boston’s bench has underperformed greatly throughout the year? Yes, specifically in the scoring department.

However, that doesn’t mean fans should fear their offensive deficiencies off the pine are too much for them to overcome. Many NBA analysts see the Boston Celtics as a real threat to take home the Larry O’Brien trophy come the conclusion of this season, and so should we.

We’ve seen Boston overperform with similar second unit hardships in the past and with far less star power at their disposal. With this core that finds five of their players ranked within the top-50 heading into the Disney bubble, who’s to say they can’t do it again?

Next. 2 things Cs fans should look out for during seeding games. dark