"Good things seem to happen when Phil Pressey is on the court" is a phrase Mike Gorman has used over and over throughout the preseason. And for good reason: in a preseason that has been particularly difficult to watch at points, Pressey, whose accumulative plus-minus is an impressive +31, has stood as one of the Celtics few lone bright spots.
Averaging exactly 6 assists in a little under 19 minutes, Pressey is proving to live up to his reputation. Here's what DraftExpress had to say about him this summer:
At his best using his speed to spark the break and handle to turn the corner on the pick and roll, Pressey was one of the most dynamic playmakers in the country last season. Doing a tremendous job getting his teammates involved and ranking as the third best assist man per-40 minutes pace adjusted among our top-100 prospects, Pressey was able to get to where he wanted on the floor and make plays with impressive court vision and creativity.
It is Pressey's creativity on the pick and roll that is perhaps his most intriguing offensive skill as a prospect. Delivering the ball between, around, and over defenders to his roll man, cutters, and spot-up shooters when operating in the two-man game, Pressey looks like the type of player who could make a positive impact as a backup floor general if surrounded by the right pieces. He proved as much his sophomore year.
In the grand scheme of things, all of these attributes could allow Pressey to be a serviceable backup point guard in the league for quite some time depending on his ability to develop his shot. In the short term, for this team, it should allow for him to start.
While projections on this team's ability to win games might vary, one thing that is agreed upon is this: If the Boston Celtics want to be competitive in games, they need to push the tempo. And not only is Phil Pressey the team's best option for this, by every indication he's the only option. Through a limited rookie campaign, a half season last year, and 7 preseason games this year Avery Bradley has shown himself to be incapable of running an offense: His inability to use his left hand makes half court sets a struggle, and his lack of confidence seems to have him unable to push the ball in a break unless he's darting to the basket uncontested. Pressey, on the other hand, has not only shown his ability to push the pace, but has proven to be pretty brilliant in transition - making very creative passes (such as his underhand scoop to a streaking Wallace last night) to finish fast breaks.
In the half court, just as Draft Express points out, in the pick and roll game his incredible quickness seems to allow him to get form point a to point b in a flash, and not only does he hit the roll man with consistency, he's shown an above average ability to hit base line cutters in stride (and often with some sizzle). With quite a few guys who are terrific cutters, and the development of Jared Sullinger (and maybe even Vitor Faverani), it's easy to see how Pressey's court vision could lead to a few easy baskets a game. Easy baskets that they're not getting without him.
Outside the pick and roll game, while his shot looks to need some improvement, he is able to create. Penetrating past his defender with his quickness, and making good decisions on when to attack the hoop, and when to dish to the corner. Again, aspects of his game that we're not seeing being made by other players on this roster.
If the Boston Celtics are serious about building with Avery Bradley in mind, they need to get serious about his development. They need to be alarmed by his loss of confidence and put him in the best position for him to grow: At the shooting guard position, where he can focus on improving his jump shot and gain confidence by his ability to frustrate opponents with his off the ball cutting (something he's tremendous at). They're in a dangerous position where they could either enter next offseason not knowing how to correctly evaluate/compensate him in free agency, or worse; possibly shaking his confidence past the point of no return.
In a very limited sample size, this is where Brad Stevens has failed his players this preseason. This whole season should be about putting his players in the best place for them to grow in this league. Jared Sullinger and Vitor Faverani should be able to focus on going through the big man growing pains; and that means always playing from the elbow of the free throw line or in. Avery Bradley should be put in a place where he can continue the horn his craft, and that means Phil Pressey should be able to start at Point Guard for this team.
MattDotRich 10/24/2013 11:13:00 AM Tweet Edit