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Michael Finley By The Numbers

 

Some things about Michael Finley: 

Until this year, he was a dependable three-point shooter. From 2003 to 2009, Finley shot at least 36.4 from three every season and shot better than 39 percent four times. He’s down to 31.7 percent this season, but he’s attempted just 41 threes. Is the J still there? 

Don’t expect him to attack the rim. In 2008, 93 percent of his shots were jumpers, according to 82games.com. In 2009—when Finley, at age 35, played more than 2300 minutes in 81 games—90 percent of his attempts were jumpers.

Don’t expect great defense. The Spurs defense gave up 7.3 more points per 100 possessions with Finley on the floor in 2007, 3.35 more in 2008, 7.5 more in 2009,  and 7.2 more in limited minutes this season, according to 82games and Basketball Value.

His numbers at Basketball Prospectus are more encouraging, showing Finley’s direct counterparts—i.e. the other team’s small forward or two guard, depending on where Finley was slotted—produced below their normal levels against Finley last year. But that could have as much to do with San Antonio’s excellent ’09 team defense as it does with Finley. 

Bottom line: The numbers suggest Finley’s a below average defender, and that matches with what Graydon Gordian of the Spurs blog 48 Minutes of Hell told us about Finley earlier this week

Don’t expect many rebounds, assists or steals

Finley’s grabbing fewer than 10 percent of available defensive rebounds so far this season, a mark that would rank him in the bottom-five among forwards in the league, right alongside Jared Jeffries, Brian Scalabrine and Al Thornton, according to Basketball Reference. That rebounding rate is even below average for shooting guards, according to Hoopdata.

So a shaky rebounding team is adding a shaky rebounder.

Finley’s assist rate of 6.9 (meaning he assisted on 6.9 percent of San Antonio baskets while on the floor) ranks near the bottom of the league among guards, according to Basketball Reference

Basically: The C’s are getting a guy with one NBA skill, and the Spurs apparently decided that either that skill was no longer there or Finley’s other skills had eroded to the point that the team couldn’t justify playing him.

But the C’s could use a guy with that skill. Between Tony Allen, Rajon Rondo and Marquis Daniels, the C’s have three guards or guard-ish players who either can’t shoot jumpers or are (at times) unwilling to shoot jumpers. Daniels is shooting long twos better this season than ever before, but he’s only a career 30 percent shooter from that range, according to Hoopdata.

When two of those three guys are on the floor, the area below the foul line can get pretty crowded, and that makes it harder for guys to drive to the hoop or score from the post. It makes the screen/roll less effective. Finley is here to space the floor, and if he can’t manage to do that, all the C’s have lost in the learning process is the veteran’s minimum salary and a small number of regular season minutes. 

The signing of Finley recognizes two fundamental things about this team:

1) The Celtics are a below-average three-point shooting team. They’ve hit 34.8 percent of their threes this season, down from 39.7 percent last season. (Hi, Sheed!);

2) The team’s offense is a bigger problem than its defense. The C’s defense has been ranked #1 or #2 in points allowed per possession for the entire season; the offense has hovered between #13 and #16 for the past month.

The team can struggle scoring the ball, and adding a guy who can shoot and doesn’t turn the ball over could help. Could.

Who loses minutes? Somebody has to, but I suspect there’s no easy answer, and that Doc will divide the minutes based on match-ups and the flow of each game. Can Nate-Daniels-Finley work? Sure. Nate-TA-Finley? Sounds do-able. Rondo-Nate-Finley? Might be a little small, but would be fun as heck to watch. Rondo-TA-Finley? Rondo and TA have played a lot of minutes together with Ray Allen, so Finley could slide into Ray’s spot there and save Ray a few minutes. 

Lots of possibilities, lots of interesting things for us to watch over the season’s final 20 or so game.

Welcome, Mike Finley. Now make some damn shots.

  • DRJ1

    And they probably talked about D and R prior to agreeing. He might focus more on both as a result of coming to Boston…. it’s not like he’s incapable of it. So, as you said, it’ll be interesting to see how he works out. My feeling: he’ll get little PT and won’t make much difference. Unless, of course, somebody goes down…. (SHHH… I didn’t say that bball-gods).

  • GranTur

    He’s just an insurance policy who adds a nice leadership-type guy with good focus and experience.

    He won’t get any serious PT unless something happens.

  • Jason

    Over 41 attempts, each made is worth almost 2.5%. He’s made 13 for 31.7%.

    One more make: 34.1%
    Two more makes: 36.6%
    Three more makes: 39.0%

    Seems to me it’s hard to claim he’s lost it on this small sample.

    Still, he’s always seemed like a one dimensional player to me and these numbers support that. Thing is, that dimension can have value. He’s 6’7″ and get off shots. Most importantly, he can make them … with a hand in his face, in pressure situations. You’re not scared when he rises. Do you trust Daniels or TA to make a long shot? And when the second unit’s in, honestly the only two that spread the floor are Nate and Sheed. Nobody’s scared of TA, Daniels or Baby beyond 15 feet. Give him TA’s minutes, maybe Nate has more room, maybe Quisy can slip and slash a little more freely, maybe Sheed can stay down low more. And of course, maybe Finley knocks down a couple shots. There’s potential here. We’ll see how it goes.

  • Celticjay

    Maybe Dheed can get benched in favor of Shelden Williams?

    Welcome to Boston Mike Finley. This guy has always beena clutch postseason performer… which is all I care about – let the statisticians count & quibble about the rest.

  • RICHHO214

    Just another body to throw out there to compete. Finley gives them another versatile guard/forward to guard or attempt to guard Lebron James. Playing defense is all about effort and I think Finley will bring it to Boston. Plus he can knock down the three.

  • Chris

    Random tidbits: Celtics drafted Eric Williams over Michael Finley at #15 in the 1995 NBA draft. Garnett, Rasheed and Celtic greats Andrew Declercq, Junior Burrough, Tyus Edney and Theo Ratliff were all drafted that year as well [along with current Celtics broadcaster Donny Marshall.]

  • dslack

    Nice post, Zach (and good comment Jason). I’m feeling better about the signing than I was before reading this. Can you sell me on Larry Hughes, too? :)

  • Dan

    “Sheed can stay down low more”

    Can, but won’t.

  • pam

    i think the point is who was the substitute? was there a super athletic, high rebounding, high energy guy available? apart from frickin bill walker!!!

  • Urbeltic

    Seems like finley is an adequate replacement for e.house. How do those guys match up stat wise.

  • Jay P

    @DRJ1

    KNOCK ON WOOD, KNOCK ON WOOD!

    I like the Finley trade, gives us some more shooting options in the second unit. I really don’t think the defense will suffer that much, he’s a veteran guy who’s a smart player, he’ll adapt and learn from Boston’s style of defense.

    Come playoff time, I don’t think you can have enough veterans, even if their just riding the bench, their presence/advice is helpful to the younger guys. He’s certainly better than an open roster spot, that’s for sure.

  • cmoney

    finley’s an adequate replacement for a folding chair. that’s it. The guy is toast.

    Here’s the problem with everyone’s analysis of “he could do this, he could try harder here”.. he’s a 36 year old vet who’s amassed a ton of minutes. He is what he is. Which, at this point, isn’t good.

    Here’s the other thing. He’s coming from the Spurs. The Spurs, need I remind you, are coached by the best coach in basketball. If Pop wasn’t playing him, there’s a damn good reason. Now he’s coming to a team where the coach screws up lineups and rotations as much as anyone, and has a thing for old over young.

    Believe me, we’re in tough shape if Finley starts cutting into TA’s and Daniels’ minutes.

  • I love Green

    He can lower Ray’s minutes, and lower Tony’s minutes. During that time we’ll be getting 3s, and basically no turnovers. He won’t play meaningful minutes but he can help rest our key guys.

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