The Curious Case of Vitor Faverani

In a young season that's already had it's highs and lows, Vitor Faverani has been somewhat of a consistent silver lining. Standing 6 foot 11 inches, El Hombre Indestructible has already exceeded expectations because, well, there really wasn't any set for him. The unheralded Brazilian's signing was met with the kind of response you'd expect to hear at a Mike Jones concert. And really, who could blame us? Even an elite scouting website like DraftExpress had him off the radar - their last update on him came in 2008 where they said that "Faverani remains a great talent but looks highly unlikely to achieve his potential looking at the career path he appears to be on these days."

The fact that there's any kind of conversation about him is a good thing. In 17 minutes a night Faverani is providing this team with some pretty impressive numbers. Averaging nearly 6 points, 5 rebounds, and a remarkable 1.7 blocks a game.The points that Chris Forsberg of ESPNBoston makes in his post today about Faverani entitled 'Vitor Faverani Shows Some Upside' is a really great thing.

Faverani leads the team with a total rebound percentage of 17.4 percent (ranking him in the top 25 in the league among qualifiers). He's grabbing 21.8 percent of defensive rebounds available during his floor time (only Kris Humphries and Jared Sullinger have better numbers on the Celtics) and a team-best 12.6 percent of offensive caroms.

Faverani has been a solid one-on-one defender, according to individual defensive data logged by Synergy Sports. He's allowing 0.717 points per play, which ranks him in the 85th percentile among all players. Among centers with at least 75 possessions defended, Faverani sits seventh in the league (one spot behind Indiana's Roy Hibbert).

Faverani also has been a solid rim protector. He owns the fifth best block percentage in the league (5.6 percent, putting him a fraction of a point ahead of Oklahoma City swatter Serge Ibaka), according to Basketball Reference. SportVU's player-tracking data shows that Faverani is allowing opponents to shoot just 43.3 percent at the rim -- a number that's not quite up to Hibbert's otherworldly 35.3 percent, but puts Faverani ahead of the likes of Dwight Howard (44.7 percent)

Again, all these are really, really great things.

But what's perplexing is, if Faverani is doing all these things so exceptionally well in limited times, how come the Celtics look so poor when he's on the court?

While plus/minus can be a deceptive stat, Faverani has put up some pretty alarming numbers. Before Saturday night's win in Atlanta where he recorded a +7, Faverani had 5 straight games where he was -10 or worse. Accumulating a total of -81 in just 66 minutes played. That is astoundingly awful. More conclusively, heading into Friday night the Celtics were an accumlative -77 when Faverani was on the court, and dead even when he was on the bench. Double yikes.

Some of that can be explained by his defense. While Forsberg correctly notes that Faverani is an exceptionally talented one on one defensive player, he has shown to be lacking in the overall schemes. Quite simply, his foot speed could make Kendrick Perkins laugh. Faverani's size really seems to hurt his ability to cover ground. He really seems to labor to get and contest shots, and he's almost no ability to recover if someone gets a step on him - often leading to some really easy buckets for opponents.

The encouraging part is that some of this can be explained by the obvious: Faverani is an NBA rookie playing a position that notoriously takes time to get acclimated to. Additionally, it's pretty understandable that the adjustment in game-speed would be that much more difficult for someone whose crossing the border for the first time. Finally, and definitely most unscientifically, after doing a google-image search for Faverani, it looks as if Vitor's taken off a good deal of weight over the past couple years. While he clearly still has a ways to go, the fact that he's already shown some dedication to weight loss is very promising. I find it worth noting that defensive player of the year Marc Gasol had these very same issues upon entering the league.

With Kelly Olynyk nursing a sprained ankle, chances are we'll get more clarity on Faverani over the next few weeks.

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