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Shelden, I’ll Make You a Deal

 

Picture 11Here’s the deal, Shelden: You can play for the Boston Celtics provided you stop taking jump shots unless absolutely necessary. And by absolutely necessary I mean the shot clock is running down and…that’s really about it. 

Here are some things to know about the C’s surprise front court signing:

1) Shelden Williams cannot shoot. His numbers are almost shockingly bad. He’s a career 44 percent shooter, which really isn’t good for someone who is 6’9” and generally plays fairly close to the basket through which you are supposed to toss the ball. 

And he really can’t shoot jump shots. Which wouldn’t be a problem, except that Williams plays as if he can shoot jump shots decently. Last year in 30 games with the Kings, for instance, about 45 percent of Williams’ shot attempts were jumpers, according to 82games. His field goal percentage on those shots: 22.5 percent. I mean…that is just beyond awful, and it’s irresponsible of both Williams and his coaches that he was allowed to use up almost half his shot attempts on jump shots despite an almost complete inability to make them. 

Williams has never had an effective field goal percentage on jump shots higher than 34.6 percent in any of his stints with the Kings, Hawks and Wolves. Only in his 15-game stretch with the T’Wolves last season did Williams reign in his jump-shooting; in those 15 games, only 31 percent of his attempts were jump shots, down from a career average of about 45 percent, according to 82games. 

His field goal percentage on inside shots is also below average for a power forward. He typically hits about 45 to 48 percent of his inside shots, which is not nearly good enough to make  up for his abysmal jump-shooting. 

So, really, he should keep the shooting to a minimum. And that might not be a bad thing, considering the C’s may end up with three rotation big men whose offensive games are based around jump-shooting (KG, ‘Sheed and Big Baby). Shelden Williams: A change-of-pace offensive weapon. Ahem.

2) He is a very good defensive rebounder. His career defensive rebounding rate–23.3 percent–would have ranked 6th among 20 centers eligible for the scoring title last season and 8th among 81 forwards, according to Basketball Reference. Dude can bang. 

3) His team’s defense has improved with him on the floor in every place he has played. That’s according to the on/off court data on 82games.com (which you can view for his various teams here, here, here, here and here). Whether you place a ton of value in that stat is up to you, but the fact remains: Williams’ teams–every one of them–have given up fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor than with him on the bench. (For the stat fans out there, Williams’ adjusted plus/minus numbers at Basketball Value–which adjust for the quality of the other players on the floor–indicate that Williams adds value on defense and takes it away on offense. The advanced defensive metrics at Basketball Prospectus show Williams did a decent job guarding mostly below average players). 

Can he jump out and recover on the screen-roll, the key skill for any big man in the C’s defensive scheme? He came out of Duke with a reputation as a quick-footed big man who could hedge and recover well, but the reviews on his screen-roll D in the NBA have been mixed. I reached out to Bret LaGree, who writes the outstanding Hawks blog Hoopinion (part of the TrueHoop Network), and he had this to say about Shelden: 

He’s a legitimately good defensive rebounder but it doesn’t make up for how his lack of mobility limits him on both ends of the floor. No one expected him to be a significant offensive contributor but in retrospect his collegiate defensive reputation was earned by virtue of being free to guard the rim against the attacks of smaller and less athletic players than exist in the NBA. He’s an average defender if stationary in the post but if you make him move his feet, you’re already past him.

So, yeah. 

4) His team’s offense has been worse with him on the floor everywhere except in Minnesota, according to 82games (see those same links). And that 15-game sample in Minnesota last season is mighty small. 

What you’re getting with Williams is pretty clear: A moose who can help on defense and won’t contribute much, if anything, on offense. 

So what’s the verdict?

At first, I thought the Williams signing was unnecessary. The C’s already have three guys who, through their careers, have been good to great defensive rebounders and post defenders (KG, Perkins and Wallace). Williams, with no offensive game to speak of, is bringing redundant skills without adding anything new. 

But it’s clear that Doc’s ideal rotation would have five big front court players who can contribute in the post on both ends. In 2008, those players were KG, Perk, P.J. Brown, Powe and (to a much lesser extent) Glen Davis. Last year, the idea was to feature KG, Perk, Powe, Davis and (gulp) Mikki Moore. That didn’t work out, and Brian Scalabrine ended up playing big minutes as an undersized power forward. 

Prior to the Williams signing, next year’s roster included: KG, Perk, Wallace…and that’s really it, at least as far as players with any sort of low post presence. So signing a guy like Williams is like buying a form of Big Guy Insurance. Really, though, I don’t see how Shelden Williams is going to help this team. 

And if the front court rotation looks thin in February, the team will have a few expiring contracts to deal for a mid-level type big man.

  • Sal Greco

    I dont get it. Why would Danny want to spend the money on him? I hope he doesnt see Williams as a replacement for Leon bc thats not going to happen. Maybe your right, Williams will be "Big Guy Insurance." I dont know, I dont like it. We could used the money else were (say back-up pg?). Whatever, in Danny I trust

  • Pasard

    No comment. At least he has Candace Parker going for himself.

  • http://www.facebook.com/its.SHAW.time?ref=profile Dennis Savellano

    I think Danny really wanted to develop a big man, of sorts. Last year, he tried it with Patrick O'Bryant, but failed. Now, he'll try with Shelden Williams. I don't think this is making any sense at all. If they want to develop a big man, then develop somebody who has potentials. Thus, I still would like them to pursue Leon Powe and Glen Davis because these two guys have already shown their potentials, and they already have flashes of brilliance, even with playing behind KG.

  • Arvin

    Not offering Leon Powe and then signing Sheldon is a slap in the face of Powe and most Celtics fans. I have faith in Danny Ainge so we will see how the plan unfolds, but doesn't look good from here. Sign Anthony Carter, Get Big Baby back, get Powe on board, Trade TA, Get Daniels, even resign Marbury, but this?? Not sure this betters the Celtics another than giving them another big body banger . . .

  • mugi

    trade bait? idk why danny would sign him. get baby and powe, if possible, back.

  • T

    I'd rather have his wife on the team.

  • Sweeney

    First Big Baby and Leon are not BIG MEN. So their signing is not relevant to the issue. Neither can guard a 5 one on one, so that would nullify KG's and Sheed's impact on the defensive end. They are great off the ball defenders and can redirect any guard penetration. Shelden is Perkins ala 2006 – 2008. Can defend and rebound and limited offense. Remember Perk still has shoulder issues. So if Shelden had to start and just bang the boards could he? So if he is anchoring the defense on a 2nd unit that is all shooters, that aint' so bad in my book.

    Plus, CP wearing green is a big plus.

  • http://thinkshesmorelike.wordpress.com/ jylze

    yeah what's going on? does this mean big baby is not gonna be back?

    the best thing about shelden williams is his wife is a fox who can also ball.

  • Green17

    Is it a package deal. Candace is suiting up too? She's better than Shelden.

  • born.an.mc

    I recently wrote an article on celticsblog.com the day before the Shelden signing. It suggested that we sign-and-trade BBD, TA, & Scal for Yi, Sean Williams, & Dooling. I think for all the reasons in this article & the comments, such a trade would have made much more sense then this signing.

    Peep the article: http://www.celticsblog.com/2009/8/3/973477/best-o

    With that said, Danny got Shelden for the vet's minimum and for what he can potentially contribute (lot of rebounds and shot-blocking), he may not be the best fit but still worth the money.

  • Pete

    Not re-signing Powe will be the biggest mistake the Celtics will make this year and for the next few years.

  • johnstone

    Williams is a decent signing. Big Baby filled the void of KG's absence but he wasnt ready for the starting role. They couldnt get past the Magic with BBD and it shouldn't come as a surprise. BBD is an undersized forward. Powe has had 3 MAJOR knees surgeries. It's common sense that the C's wanted to wait until Powe was healthy to consider resigning him. BBD saw a lot of playing time and that equated to exposure to a national audience (NBA Playoffs). He showed hustle and effort which shouldn't go overlooked but to say that he is the missing piece to a championship squad which features 4 potential hall of famers, is ludicrous. At least Williams has size. He can't shoot. Who cares? He wasn't signed to the veteran minimum to shoot 12 footers. His role will be to back up Perk which is a upgrade over mikki moore.

  • cj

    in response to Sweeny. Williams can't guard a 5 either. BBD did a great job on Yao last year and did alright against Howard. I do agree with most of you, I would rather have Mrs. Parker than Mr. Parker

  • johnstone

    Everyone does a great job on Yao. NATE ROBINSON posterized Yao, and he might not even play in the NBA next year. i dont buy that BBD did a "good job" on yao ming, nor dwight howard. i don't understand why everyone thinks resigning BBD is the make or break for this team. he's slightly above average, at best. why spend 4-5 mil on a guy when you can get the same, if not, just under the same production for less than half? if BBD never hit that game winner, this wouldn't be a big deal. why is it that no one is jumping on the "opportunity" to sign this guy? the C's will only offer him 2-3 mil, if that. he will make a career as a back up, if he signs with a contender. sure, he can start for the grizzles but i'll take my chances on a 97 year old rasheed wallace. BBD got exposed too much during the regular season. you don;t remember when KG reamed him on the bench and he starting crying? come on. it's good to have emotion but can you picture KG crying on the bench after a timeout? the dude got his ring, move on. play for the nets. i'll take Yi over BBD any day of the week.

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  • http://gainverticaljump.com plyometrics

    I really liked your post. Keep up the good work!

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