Post-game Reactions

Picture 1We’ve been hearing rumors about the C’s dealing for Andres Nocioni for a long time now, which means we can at least assume that Danny Ainge likes the Annoying Argetine’s game.

So…what is Andres Nocioni’s game?

It’s average. In almost every way, Andres Nocioni is the average NBA player. He’s listed as 6’7” and 225 pounds—about league average. He’s a small forward, a three, the median position on the floor in terms of size and skill set. His career Player Efficiency Rating (PER) is 13.5, a touch below the league average mark of 15.0. His defensive statistics suggest “average” is his ceiling on that side of the ball.

But Andres Nocioni does two things that potentially make him a good fit here: 1) He shoots three-pointers decently (37 percent career, about the same as Paul Pierce); 2) He plays small forward.

Unfortunately, two things make him a bad fit: 1) His contract and its huge luxury tax implications for next season. Brian Robb already covered that; 2) He’s good at things the Celtics are already good at (three-pointers) and bad at one thing they are already struggling with (offensive rebounding). His skill set is somewhat duplicative in that way.

But simply being a league-average small forward makes Nocioni desirable to the Celtics. The C’s just don’t have a lot of wing players; when Glen Davis returns, the team will have 11 rotation players, only two of whom can be classified as true small forwards (Paul Pierce and Marquis Daniels)—and one of those two isn’t even playing small forward, really. Brian Scalabrine is not a small forward, no matter how much the Celtics wish he could play extended minutes there.

A living, breathing small forward who can shoot threes and not get killed on defense? The C’s could use that player.  His presence would allow them to rest Paul Pierce more, and his jump-shooting would allow Doc to tinker more with line-ups; a Rondo-Daniels back court, for instance, becomes more workable if you add a jump-shooting small forward who is not named Paul Pierce.


You know exactly what you are going to get from Nocioni on offense. His numbers on 82games.com are amazingly consistent year over year: About 75 percent of his shots will be jumpers, his effective field goal percentage on those jumpers will be about 49 percent (roughly the equal of Paul Pierce’s average) and he’ll get rejected a lot when he takes the ball to the rim. He can set a decent screen.

He’s an average passer (his assist rate ranked 42nd out of 81 forwards who qualified for the scoring title last season), and, somewhat distressingly, he’s an awful offensive rebounder. He ranked 69th out of those 81 forwards in offensive rebounding last season, according to Basketball Reference.

But what about his defense? After all, the C’s are #1 in the league in defensive efficiency and can’t afford to fall to far from that perch.


Nocioni has been in the league since 2004. And not once has his team played better defensively with him on the floor. Only last year’s Bulls broke even, giving up the same number of points per 100 possessions whether Noc was colliding with people on the court or checking out the talent in the stands at United Center from the bench.

Every other team Noc has played for has given up more points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. That includes this year’s Kings, who are allowing about 3.5 points more per 100 possessions when Noc is on the court.

You know what, though? That’s not a disastrous number, and it’s actually a bit worse than Noc’s career defensive plus/minus. Every other place you look—Basketball Value’s adjusted plus/minus system or the new defensive stats at Basketball Prospectus—suggest Nocioni has basically a neutral effect on defense. He’s a non-entity. He’s average.

Again, there is value in average. Brian Scalabrine can shoot threes nearly as well as Nocioni, but he’s below average overall (career PER: 7.9) and plays power forward, a position at which the C’s are already loaded. Scalabrine saw major minutes in the playoffs last season only because the C’s had no other trustworthy power forwards to play.

Tony Allen is Tony Allen. He plays defense better than Nocioni but he can barely dribble the ball without a) hurting himself; b) hurting the rim; or c) hurting someone else. Tony Allen saw major minutes in the playoffs last season only because the team had no other trustworthy small forwards to play.

Marquis Daniels is the team’s back-up small forward this season, but the team’s starting small forward (Pierce) has been on the court for a majority of Quisy’s 212 minutes,according to 82games. Pierce is almost always on the court when Doc pairs Daniels and Rondo—something he’s done more than any of us expected. The reason? A Rondo-Daniels back court can’t hit enough jumpers, and so the offense needs a third ball-handler who can. That’s Pierce. It wouldn’t have to be Pierce all the time if the C’s had a player like Nocioni.

And when Daniels plays with House? Ray Allen is on the floor. That would likely remain the case even if the C’s traded for a player like Nocioni, but a jump-shooting three would at least give Doc the tools to experiment.

Andres Nocioni is not a great player. He’s not even a good one, really. But he’s a type of player, and his type would work in Boston.

Too bad a trade appears unlikely to happen for salary reasons.

So here’s the challenge: Can you find a player who fits the skill set but doesn’t bring the salary issues? You can bet the C’s have looked everywhere.

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Zach Lowe

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  • Would have said Travis Outlaw and Kelenna Azubuike until recently………

  • Sophomore

    Good analysis, but I still think this misses the bigger picture – which is what we do next year to add some youth and athleticism. It would be nice to save PP a few minutes with a Noc-like player, but that’s a marginal benefit – it won’t add much to our chances of winning number 18.

    Instead, I think we avoid taking on Noc’s salary and try to make a big upgrade next year by adding youth and athleticism. Use Ray’s salary slot, restructure PP, and take advantage of the expiring slots and we might be able to afford an above-average young player.

  • dranen645

    bring glen rice back!

  • T

    Is there any way we could swindle Chris Wallace out of Rudy Gay (3.2 mil left on a 1 year contract). I mean he gave Gasol away for nothing. Give him TA plus a first round draft pick

  • @T: I’m afraid not even Wallace is that stupid, and not even Memphis is that desperate to unload potentially big contracts and alienate their fans even further.

  • Chris

    Carlos Delfino, Deshawn Stevenson, Antoine Wright, or Sasha Pavlovic. Any interest?

  • @Chris: I’d have to look at their contracts first. I hate Stevenson though–he’s like Ben Wallace on offense (a total non-factor).

  • i just think its hard to pass up on noc, he plays like he is a celtic, he hustles, plays great d, can drop 20 if he wants, shares the ball, and can get techs lol. I mean come on lots of ppl say theyd rather have ray allen next year but also say they want to get younger, the younger we get the less good im guessin we’ll b. I just really like how nocioni plays and think he would b a perfect fit here

  • Just to clarify: There’s very little evidence that Noc is a “great” defensive player (actually none) and he’s about to turn 30 on Nov. 30. So he’s not young.

  • Jared

    I think that Noc is only a small benefit (less minutes for Paul) and a large downside (average D, expensive). Maybe playing more Lester Hudson (a reasonable shooter) will let Marquis play more time at the 3-spot.

  • Chris

    Stevenson, 3.9/4.1; Wright, 2.1; Delfino, 3.5/3.5; and Pavlovic, 1.5.

    I’m just throwing these names out as guys who are likely to be available and are cheaper (though probably less talented) alternatives to Noc.

    Stevenson has definitely added the corner 3 to his (minimal) offensive repetoire. He’d be a 10th man, giving Paul and Ray a break during the regular season.

    But during the playoffs… His size would allow him to guard big wings (LeBron, Joe Johnson, Vince, etc.) for those critical 6 minutes in the second and third quarters. It’s a lot to pay for 12 minutes of production, but what more would we be asking of Noc?

    Major nitpicking alert: Why Danny didn’t go after Matt Barnes?

    Super-major nitpicking: Tony Allen over Dahntay Jones looks worse and worse.

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  • Tom

    Stephen Jackson 🙂 Gay would be awesome. As Tommy would say, he might be gay, but no one is laughing (said it last year on TV)

    Nocioni plays European defense, which means not a lot and a lot of flopping. Say No to Noci.

  • Ted

    How about trading Tayshaun Prince, Rip Hamilton and Dujuan Summers for Ray Allen, Scal and Bill Walker? Both Rip and Tay offer above average defense and competent offense. Rip’s game is similar to Ray except with shorter range, Tay can help limit Paul Peirce’s minutes.

    Detroit might buy into this because they get 18 million in cap space for the 2010 free agent bonanza

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  • John V

    What are we talking about in terms of “salary issues”? Does that mean we only want someone with an expiring contract? The value of Scal, TA, and Giddens is that they have expiring contracts, so a team looking to cut costs (whether simply to save money, or to try to get in on the 2010 bonanza) will offer more talent than they get back.

    If we want expiring contracts in return, then we’re only going to get an equivalent amount of talent.

    We could look for a free agent. Stackhouse is still out there. But the guy I really like is Gerald Green. I realize that, so far in his career, he doesn’t “get it”. But I thought he was coming along nicely with the Cs, and I think most fans were sad to see him included in the KG trade. I am still shocked at how quickly his career tanked.

    He can shoot the 3, and he obviously has the freakish athleticism that let him win the dunk contests. I thought he played acceptable defense even as a 20 year old. He never got very good at it, but clearly he has the physical tools to guard any wing player.

    I’ve been hoping Danny would call him in ever since the Timberwolves cut him, but as far as I’ve seen reported, there’s been no interest.

  • John V

    One suggestion if we really want to go the trade route: Adam Morrison. He can shoot the three and he has an expiring contract. He also seemed to have a passion for the game and seems to be trying to resurrect his career. As for defense… well, he plays the 3. Still, there’s an intangible: he reportedly punched Vujacic in the face once. So, that’s good.

    He’s really not a very good NBA player, though, and the other problem is, would the Celtics and Lakers really make a trade with each other, even if it’s just for 12th men?

  • @John V: Re: “salary issues.” We’re talking about the fact that Noc makes a pretty decent chunk of change–$7M–and that it’s guaranteed through 2012. Not ideal. I get that the ‘C’s are going to accept a non-expiring back in exchange for expirings (otherwise, what’s the point for the trade partner?), but perhaps they can do better.

  • Daniel Lavi

    who would the c’s have to trade for him? who would we lose?