10/27/2015 04:35:00 PM
Earlier today, fellow CelticsLife contributor, Connor Casey, provided you with a list of positive takeaways from the preseason . For the most part, the team used their seven games to confirm many of their anticipated strengths, and prove wrong some of their expected weaknesses.
However, as the Celtics move on from the preseason and gear up for the start of the regular season, it remains unclear how they intend on addressing their perimeter shooting weakness, especially with regard to their bench.
UNANSWERED QUESTION: Is James Young ready to play regular minutes and contribute to the Celtics this season?
Before moving forward, it is important for everyone to understand just how young James is. The current darling of the Boston masses is RJ Hunter, who it appears is definitely capable of learning quick enough to contribute at some point this season. To all those individuals who want to write off Young because of Hunter's presence, remember that while Hunter is going to play his rookie season at age 22, Young is not going to play his age-22 season until 2017-2018, which will be his fourth year in the NBA. Think about that.
Following Young's disappointing rookie campaign, he entered the offseason with a lot to work on, which we were told quite often he was doing. This past summer was all about the James Young hype machine, and it led us right to his anticipated Summer League performance, which was extremely underwhelming. Over five games, he shot 27% from the field, 24% from three, and averaged 9.4 PPG, 3.4 RPG, and 1.0 APG.
During the preseason, Young played the least amount of minutes of anyone who made the final roster. Over seven appearances, he shot an unimpressive 28% from the field, and averaged 4.4 PPG and 1.4 RPG. The most encouraging part of his performance was his three-point shooting, which is exactly what the Celtics are in need of from him and the rest of the bench. Young shot 35% (7/20) from three, which was third best on the team amongst players with at least three attempts per game. The top two were Avery Bradley at 52% (11/21), and Terry Rozier at 57% (8/14).
Rozier is not going to be asked to play on the perimeter, as it is not a strength of his despite the fact his preseason numbers would suggest otherwise. As for Bradley, it is important to note that he did most of his damage from three during the team's two games in Europe against Milan and Real Madrid. In games against NBA teams, Bradley struggled with his three-point shot, finishing at 30% (4/13).
WHY THIS MATTERS
During the 2014-2015 season, only seven teams took a full three-pointer more per game than the Celtics, who took 24.6. Boston made 32% of them, which was ranked 27th in the NBA and less than a percentage point better than Charlotte, who ranked last.
Here is where the four teams who made the conference finals were ranked in three-point shooting last season: Golden State (1st); Atlanta (2nd); Cleveland (5th); and Houston (14th). As for where they ranked in three-point makes per game: Houston (1st); Golden State (2nd); Cleveland (3rd); and Atlanta (5th).
If the Celtics want to be the baby Hawks this season, it will not be possible without improved three-point shooting throughout the entire rotation, especially within the second unit, which desperately needs it. During the preseason, the starters shot 48% from three while the bench shot 29%.
At 6'7, 215 pounds, with a 6'11 wingspan, Young is a natural perimeter shooter, and we saw that potential during his time in the D-league last year when he shot 44% from three, as well as this preseason. At that size with that shooting potential, he presents the best option to become the DeMarre Carroll of the "baby Hawks".
WHAT REMAINS UNKNOWN
With the starting unit all set, who is going to be the perimeter shooter to pair with Isaiah Thomas? As of now, Thomas' primary option on the wing is Evan Turner, a career 31% three-point shooter. If the team's primary goal is to surround their best player with his perfect complements, the current second unit is not going to accomplish that, and it will eventually change. If those changes see Thomas playing more minutes with the starters, the Celtics greatest strength - their depth - all of a sudden becomes a potential weakness.
Therefore, it is critical for a bench player to step up and become the complementary wing the team so desperately needs to pair with Thomas on the second unit. As they hoped heading into the offseason, the organization's best option at fixing this problem is James Young, and it may be about time to find out if he is ready to do that.
Question for the Readers: should the Celtics find Young regular rotation minutes to see if he is capable of continuing his outside shooting pace from the preseason? Do you want the team to move on from him? If you think Hunter can help them in this area more, any concerns that he shot under 30% from three during the preseason? If not Young, then who are you going to put in the game with the second unit to sit on the perimeter and hit shots?
Follow Max Sandgrund on Twitter @SotoSpeakz
Photo Credit: Winslow Townson/Associated Press
10/27/2015 04:35:00 PM