Rethinking the Celtics big man lineup
Lets face it! If you are a big man - play for the Celtics - and can't hit 3-pointers on a regular, and frequent, basis - you will not play extended minutes. Let me present Aron Baynes and Rob TIMELORD Williams as Exhibits A and B. Aron averaged only 1.2 3-pointers per game, hitting them at a decent 34% clip - while playing 16.1 minutes per game. Rob attempted ZERO shots from beyond the arc and averaged 8.8 MPG over 32 games-played. Daniel Theis? Only one 3-pointer/game attempted in 13.8 MPG.
There are not a whole lot of big men out there that can do it all - protect the rim, rebound, stretch the floor with 3-pointers, defend and guard both the paint and the perimeter. Let's think about lowering the sights a bit and try the big-man-of-old at center. Who would that be? Hold on to your chair! I am thinking DeAndre Jordan. Are you still okay?
Too old you say. I am not comparing talent levels here, but Tiny Archibald came to Boston at 30 years of age after Achilles surgery and won a Championship in 1981. Kevin Garnett came here at age 31 and snagged a Title in 2008. Jordan is 30 years old.
But he can't even hit free throws! Granted, his career average is 47% on freebies, but last season he shot 68% with the Clippers and 77% with the Knicks. Yeh, but he is useless beyond the arc. So was Brook Lopez. In his first six seasons in the League he attempted a mere seven treys, making NONE. This season with Milwaukee? A total of 512 3-pointers attempted - hitting on 37% at age 31.
DeAndre is a big (6'11", 265 pounds), athletic rebounder/rim protector/defender that earned $22.9 million with New York this past season and will be an unrestricted free agent this summer. Here is his player profile per Wikipedia:
Jordan is a strong rebounder, averaging 10.1 rebounds per game in his career and leading the league in two seasons. He is also an excellent post-defender who averages 1.8 blocks per game for his career. Jordan's defensive play has even been compared to the defensive play of Bill Russell, a Hall of Fame center who is considered by many to be one of the greatest defenders and players of all time. On offense, he heavily relies on put-backs and alley-oops to score. He has led the league in field goal percentage in five seasons. However, he is a poor free throw shooter, making just 42% of his shots at the line, leading to opponents exploiting this weakness by intentionally fouling him with the Hack-a-Shaq strategy. Jordan is considered one of the more durable players in the NBA, having played in 360 straight games at one point.
I am going to take this one step further. Jordan career averages are 9.6 PPG, 10.9 RPG, 1.6 BPG and 67% field goal percentage. Here are Rob Williams' per-36-minutes numbers: 10.3 PPG, 10.3 RPG, 5.1 BPG and 71% on field goals. Do you see a similarity?
I honestly expect Al Horford back with us this coming season. Kyrie Irving? Not so sure. Al needs to be at the power forward spot. DeAndre can handle the brutish centers and the whirling flyers like Giannis Antetokounmpo. It didn't seem like it in the Milwaukee series, but the Celtics have shooters they can put around Jordan. He is a put-back and lob guy on offense, but so was Bill Russell. If you are among the crowd that has had it with too much small-ball, 3-point marathons and fear-of-the-paint, this could be worth a shot. Let me know what you think.
Is free-agent-to-be DeAndre Jordan a viable option for the Celtics this summer?— Tom Lane (@CelticsSentinel) May 17, 2019
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Photo via Kevin Jairaj/USAToday Sports and Walter Iooss, Jr./SI