Celtics’ Summer School: Offseason Assignments For Boston’s Guards

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Celtics’ Summer School: Offseason Assignments For Boston’s Guards

Post by bobheckler on Thu Jun 15, 2017 10:55 am


Celtics’ Summer School: Offseason Assignments For Boston’s Guards

June 14, 2017 1:46 PM

By Brian Robb, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — An integral part of Danny Ainge’s offseason will be evaluating his own assets. With big decisions looming on future contracts and potential trade chips, the Celtics must figure out which players they are better off holding onto and who is worth selling high on via trade.

With that in mind, it’s time to take a closer look at the individual campaign of each player on the 2016-17 roster and evaluate what they need to improve upon to help the Celtics reach a contending level in the coming seasons. In our first edition of the three-part, we’ll take a look at the team’s guards:

Isaiah Thomas

Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas reacts after hitting a three pointer against the Washington Wizards in Boston’s Game 2 win in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Notable 2016-17 stats: 28.9 ppg, 5.9 apg, 46.3% FG, 90.9% FT, 37.9% 3PT, 8.5 FTA per game.

Summer assignment: Get healthy.

A hip injury suffered in mid-March ultimately resulted in a premature end to the 28-year-old’s postseason in the Eastern Conference Finals. Playing through the injury during the playoffs was admirable, but the two-time All-Star could be facing a lengthy rehab process if he opts for surgery, and that could last into the upcoming season. Returning in top form must be the priority for Thomas as he enters his contract season, particularly since point guard is one of the deepest positions in the league. A max deal is attainable for the 5-foot-9 guard, but it isn’t a guarantee from the Celtics or any other team if he shows some regression following a career year.

Avery Bradley

Celtics guard Avery Bradley hits the game-winning shot in Boston’s Game 3 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Notable 2016-17 stats: 16.3 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.2 apg, 46.3% FG, 39.0% 3PT, 1.2 SPG

Summer assignment: Expand his offensive game.

Bradley’s been a one-trick pony throughout much of his career, relying on his jump shot as his primary weapon to score. Bradley’s shooting at the rim (62.2 percent inside three feet) and free throw rate (1.8 FTA per 36 minutes) remained stagnant at age 26. Those weaknesses make him a player the Celtics could be hesitant to invest big money in when he hits free agency next summer. He improved one important element to his game last year (defensive rebounding) and becoming an offensive threat beyond just the perimeter should help him cash in wit a massive payday in 2018.

Marcus Smart

Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Notable 2016-17 stats: 10.6 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 4.6 apg, 35.9% FG, 28.3% 3PT, 1.5 SPG

Summer assignment: Improve his finishing at the rim.

The perimeter shot is probably never going to be consistent for Smart, but his shooting inside the arc is just as much of an issue for the 23-year-old. Smart hit just 42 percent of his 2-point field goals (14th overall on Celtics roster), and that number wasn’t much better inside of three feet (48 percent) either. Smart needs to show some growth on this front if he wants to become a legitimate two-way player in this league. With the way offense is exploding in the across the league right now, the Celtics can’t afford to have a point guard that’s easy for defenses to ignore all over the court.

Smart’s defensive intangibles will always give him value, but if he wants to become a bonafide starter he needs to show more competency in the paint.

Terry Rozier

Celtics guard Terry Rozier goes up for a layup in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Washington Wizards. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Notable 2016-17 stats: 5.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.8 apg, 36.7% FG, 31.8% 3PT, 0.6 SPG

Summer assignment: Carry over the momentum from the postseason.

Ainge took a gamble on Rozier in the 2015 NBA Draft by selecting the Louisville guard at No. 16 overall, far earlier than he had been projected. Rozier has failed to live up to those expectations for the first two years of his career, but he showed in the last two months that he’s capable of being a strong bench guard. He shot above-average from the 3-point line (36.8 percent), had a terrific 3-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and produced one of the best net ratings on the entire roster. With tough decisions looming on the remainder of Boston’s backcourt as they come up for new contracts, Rozier must show the front office he can sustain that kind of production and fill in for whichever guard is priced out of Boston’s future plans.

Earning a combined $5 million over the next two seasons, Rozier will help Ainge chase big fish in free agency and on the trade market while maintaining an affordable competent rotation of bench players to surround them with.

Demetrius Jackson

Boston Celtics guard Demetrius Jackson. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

Notable 2016-17 stats (D-League): 14.8 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 6.0 apg, 42% FG, 27.5% 3PT, 1.3 SPG

Summer assignment: Play himself back onto the 15-man roster.

Jackson’s contract for 2016-17 is only partially guaranteed ($650,000), so he’ll have to earn his spot with a fresh batch of second round picks as well as Abdel Nader gunning for limited slots at the end of the bench. A strong performance in summer league will be essential for Jackson to prove he belongs at the NBA level after overall uneven play at the D-League level. He needs to show he can be a reliable shooter/scorer offensively to balance out the other well-rounded components of his game.

MY NOTE:  Brian Robb usually writes pretty decent stuff, but this piece is pure babyfood.  Smart isn't ever going to be a consistent outside shooter?  Consistently poor maybe.  IT needs to get healthy?  Really went way out on a limb there, didn't ya?  Same with Jackson needing to make the team again.  I disagree with his assertion that Rozier has been a disappointment at #16, certainly not compared to James Young at #17.  And if Rozier's a disappointment at #16 then what do you call Marcus Smart at 6?!  C'mon.  Terry is doing well in the minutes he's playing.  The conclusion that Robb had for Smart, finish better at the rim, is Rozier's "to-do".  Smart's is "don't shoot unless you are AT the rim, just do everything else".  Smart needs to make changes to be a starter, and he was #6, but Rozier's a disappointment at #16?  Gimme a break!

The bottom line, though, is that if we draft Fultz we have too many guards.  If we draft Josh Jackson then we have an overload at another position.  With Amir, Zeller, Jonas and possibly Kelly all gone next year our needs are BIGS.  Unfortunately there aren't any of true quality in this draft and that's Danny true conundrum.  Zizic and Yabby will help but they're rookies and, in the short-term, will probably hurt us next year if they are getting a lot of minutes.  Three years from now, who knows, but next year they will get schooled and that will cost us Ws if they are on the floor a lot. We're loaded on guards, short on bigs.  Someone, if not more than one, is gone.  I don't see any other way around it unless we sign Griffin to replace Amir, instead of Hayward and re-sign Kelly, or sign Hayward and trade Crowder and maybe Bradley anyway to land a big to replace Amir.  Bottom line, again, is that unless Danny shocks the world and trades the #1 and/or re-signs Amir, we have too many guards and not enough bigs.


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