Camp questions: Will Vitor Faverani crack the Celtics rotation?

We continue to wind our way through the Celtics now 14 man roster (RIP to Donte Greene's Celtics career) with our "Camp questions" series. Today we look at Celtics big man Vitor Faverani, and the questions surrounding him as he enters his first camp with the Celtics.

Who is Vitor Faverani?

Faverani is a 25 year-old Brazilian big man who the Celtics signed to a 3-year contract this off-season. He's 6'11", 235 pounds and profiles as a center, although he could also see some time at power forward. He has spent his entire pro career in Spain, including the last two seasons playing for Valencia. During the 2012-13 season, Faverani (who's nickname is "El Hombre Indestructible", or the "Indestructible man") averaged 9.7 points, 4.6 rebounds and 0.7 blocks in 17 minutes per game.

His contract guarantees him $2 million this season and $2.09 million in 2014-15. The Celtics hold a team option for the 2015-16 season.

For more on Faverani, check out this article by Bohemian.


1. How will Faverani's game translate?

Of all of the current Celtics, we know the least about Vitor. The best we can do is youtube videos, and an analysis of his Spanish league stats. Neither of which tells us the whole story. Helping us dive a little deeper, ESPN's Chris Forsberg broke down his Synergy Sports "points per play" stats a little while back. Here's what he found.

Faverani on offense:

The scouting report from those who have watched Faverani overseas is nearly universal: a skilled and athletic offensive player but a question mark on the defensive end.

That's confirmed by the advanced stats from his play overseas. In 34 games for Valencia last season, Faverani averaged 0.976 points per play (324 points over 332 plays), which ranked him in the 72nd percentile among all international players, according to Synergy Sports data. His post numbers won't wow you (0.888 ppp), but he thrived last season in the pick-and-roll (1.2 ppp) and off of offensive rebounds (1.361 ppp). He's prone to turnovers, but his offensive skills are obvious.

At first glance, Faverani's offensive game looks pretty good. Of course it's not a perfect translation from Europe to the NBA, but he's an above average offensive rebounder (he averaged 4 offensive rebounds per-36 minutes last season) with a soft touch around the basket. That pick-and-roll number (1.20 ppp) is also impressive.

To compare it to some NBA stars, Kevin Garnett averaged 0.98 ppp in the pick-and-roll last season, which was still good enough to rank 70th among over 400 NBA players. Dwight Howard, one of the most dominant pick-and-roll men in the league averaged 1.29 ppp in the P&R — 9th among all players. Again, this doesn't mean Faverani is going to cross the Atlantic and start dominating. But it's promising to see that there are certain aspects of his offensive game that he was borderline dominant in over in Spain.

Faverani on defense (again from Forsberg):

The bigger question mark is whether Faverani can elevate his defensive play in the NBA. According to Synergy data, he allowed 0.88 points per play, ranking in the 42nd percentile among all international players last season. He was exploited at times in the post (1.081 ppp, 10th percentile), but was stout against the pick-and-roll (0.632 ppp, 79th percentile).

Unlike his offensive numbers, there's not a ton to be thrilled with defensively with Faverani. That pick-and-roll number is solid, but P&R defense is often times more team oriented than defense in the post. That's why that post number (1.081 pop, 10th percentile) is especially concerning. If new coach Brad Stevens puts as much emphasis on defense in the pros as he did in college (likely), Vitor will need to improve considerably to earn a spot in the Celtics rotation.

2. Why did Faverani only play 17 minutes per game in Spain?

I'm not going to lie, when the Celtics signed Favernai, I was perplexed. After all, last season Faverani only managed to play 17 minutes per game with Valencia. Of course that got me thinking: Is there some sort of fatal flaw in Faverani's game?

If a player has NBA talent, why wouldn't a Euroleague team better take advantage of it? That leads me to believe one of two things:

A. Faverani was buried for no good reason - Again, look at El Hombre Indestructible's stats — 9.7 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.7 BPG in just 17 MPG — and tell me he should not have been playing more. Those are phenomenal rate stats, translating to 20.5 points, 9.7 rebounds and 1.5 blocks per-36 minutes. It's hard for me to imagine that Valencia was so deep at the 4 and 5 spots that a guy putting up incredible per-minute numbers deserved to play a mere 17 minutes per night. Unless..

B. There is something with Faverani that does not show up in the stats that caused him to play so little - Maybe it's his defense (which we touched on above), maybe it's his immaturity (which is reportedly getting better), or maybe it's something else. As we've all seen in the past, there are some players who bring more value than can be articulated in stats. And on the flip-side there are some who bring less. Hopefully Faverani is not one of the latter, but we won't be able to find that out for sure until we see him on the court.

3. Where does Faverani stand in the Celtics depth chart?

Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and Faverani. Those are the five big men currently on the Celtics roster as we gear up for camp. On paper, it appears that all four of the other guys are ahead of Faverani on the depth chart. After all, Humphries ($12M) and Bass ($6.5M) make big money, while Olynyk and Sullinger are recent first round picks. So now the question becomes, is there room for five players in the Celtics big man rotation?

Using last season as a guide, it seems as though Doc Rivers rarely went above four in his rotation. But Doc was notoriously a short rotation coach, rarely going beyond an eight or nine man line-up except in rare cases. Other teams around the league (say, the Nuggets) routinely run with a ten man line-up, which could help Faverani's case.

Helping Faverani's cause is the fact that Stevens routinely went nine players deep with his rotation as Butler, and that was in college where they played eight less minutes per game. It will be interesting to see if Stevens remains as committed to spreading the minutes out in the pros.

Faverani could also seemingly enter the rotation if he outperforms one of the other four guys, or if someone suffers an injury. And with Sullinger still rehabbing from back surgery, it's possible he gets that chance early in the season.

Needless to say, there is a lot of unknown surrounding Faverani. He's the only player that we haven't seen at either the college or pro level, and therefore we really don't know how his game will translate. It will be very interesting to see how camp goes for El Hombre Indestructible (if you can't tell, I love this nickname).

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