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Got the number one ranking, but it was close

Kyrie Irving ended up number one in the rankings, but it was a photo finish. The following numbers and quotes are courtesy of nbamath.com's Adam Fromal. A total of 16 NBAMath members and contributors assessed 14 Celts players on a scale of one (shouldn't get minutes) to 12 (best player in the league). The score for each player is an average of the 16 votes.

These ranking are not merely one individual's subective thoughts on the team's makeup. It combines the opinions of 16 analysts into objective, numerical rankings. What a great idea. The rankings seem pretty solid to me, and I have few arguments. For the sake of brevity, I will only include small portions of Fromal's analysis of each player. Reading the complete article is recommended. Here are the guidelines for the rankings:

The rankings were determined by how the panel of analysts thought each player would perform next season only, with future potential not being considered, assuming full health or close to it over the coming season.

Here are the rankings, players, average scores, closest categories based on the numbers and brief NBAMath comments. There was a tie at #10:

#14 Daniel Theis, 1.88, end-of-bench, threat on the offensive glass-33% from three-point range
#13 Abdel Nader, 1.88, end-of-bench, versatility- remarkable athlete-can play the four
#12 Guerschon Yabusele, 2.13, end-of-bench, athleticism-potential two-way player off the bench
#10 Shane Larkin, 2.13, end-of-bench, might settle in as a depth piece-can give the Celts quality minutes in a pinch
#10 Semi Ojeleye, 2.13, end-of-bench, strength-three-point shooting
#9 Aron Baynes, 3.19, depth piece, behemoth on the interior-size-strength-rebounding
#8 Terry Rozier, 3.44, depth piece, athleticism-defensive intensity
#7 Jayson Tatum, 4.19, high-end backup, well on his way to big things, so long as he keeps making the right adjustments
#6 Jaylen Brown, 4.56, high-end backup to low-end starter, defensive switchability-cutting athleticism
#5 Marcus Smart, 4.88, low-end starter, one of the league's best defenders-deft distributer-keeps turnovers in check
#4 Marcus Morris, 5,19, low-end starter, versatile contributer-can function in any facet of the game
#3 Al Horford, 7.56, high-end starter to all-star candidate, can have an immense impact-does little things on a consistent basis
#2 Gordon Hayward, 8.19, all-star candidate, what can't Gordon Hayward do?-can contribute in just about every way
#1 Kyrie Irving, 8.19, all-star candidate, ability to break down the defense on the dribble-easily the league's most dangerous player in isolation

The ratings would suggest a starting five of Irving, Hayward, Horford, Morris and Smart with Brown and Tatum as the primary backups and Rozier and Baynes getting significant minutes. That certainly makes sense, but at least one of the five end-of-bench crew should break through and play an important role. Semi might have the best chance to move from end-of-bench to depth piece.

If Terry and Shane stick with the team, they certainly can help in the short term, but I don't see them playing an important role down the road. For all their abilities, they lack versatility. But the two certainly can generate excitement, and entertainment for the fans is the driving force of the NBA. Guerschon and Daniel could see more playing time as the season progresses. I believe Danny and Brad visualize a team of 6'4" to 6'10" versatile players that can play at least two of the ball handler/wing/big positions. If a player falls out of that range, he had better be very good. Kyrie, at 6'3", fills the bill there.

Smart, if he can become a more efficient shooter, has the tools to become a star in this league. He seems to be a late bloomer and has a chance to become a Chauncy Billups type of player. I compare Jaylen to the late, and former Celt, Reggie Lewis. He has Reggie's ability to explode along the baseline for thunderous dunks and to rebound in the middle of a crowd. Jayson doesn't have Paul Pierce's herky jerky moves that drove defenders nuts, but he seems to have Paul's offensive potential.

Al is simply a quiet star. No flash or hype here. He just does his job under the radar and does it very well. Fromal's quote tells it all:.

Take a guess how many players averaged at least 14 points, six rebounds and five assists during the 2016-17 campaign.
Seriously. Guess.
The answer is seven: James Harden, Jimmy Butler, Russell Westbrook, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Al Horford and Nicolas Batum. That’s a star-studded group, which helps show how Horford can have an immense impact even though he doesn’t typically dominate in any one area of the box score.

Horford is in great company. And those numbers only reveal a portion of Al's value to the Celtics team. Kyrie just barely got past Gordon for number one because he received one vote for lesser MVP candidate. I see Hayward playing positions one through four, and seeing very occasional duty at the five. He can serve as ball handler, wing and even big on rare match-ups. Irving can play the one or two. He will serve as ball handler and possible wing occasionally with very small line-ups. I see one or both of these guys advancing to the all-NBA-candidate or lesser-MVP-candidate category (NBAmath score of nine or 10) by the end of this season.

Again, it is tough to argue with NBAMath's results. Great job of combining mathematics with subjective analysis of the Celtics players. I would love to see these rankings done at the end of the season and compare them to the pre-season numbers.

Photo credit: Celtics/Instagram




Tom Lane 9/04/2017 05:50:00 PM Edit
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