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How Important Is A Stretch Four Off the Bench?

 

“Rondo penetrates into the lane as the defense collapses.  Rondo adeptly kicks the ball out to a wide open Kevin Garnett, who knocks down a 17 footer.”

How accustomed have we become to seeing this night in and night out.  It’s one of the easiest buckets the Celtics have been getting this season, but unfortunately, that shot becomes infinitely harder once KG exits the game.

Glen Davis is not looking to take that shot.  If he was, his shooting percentages would be a lot lower.  Right now, Davis is a meager 13 of 46 from the 16 to 23 foot range which is a whopping 28%.  Compare this to Garnett’s 47% and it’s easy to see why a whole section of the playbook has to be tossed out once Garnett leaves the game.  Some of the more staggering numbers- brace yourself- reside in the location differential of field goal attempts.  Did you know that 300 of KG’s 684 field goal attempts came from this 16 to 23 foot range?  That’s a lot of shots.  It’s also a lot of shots that disappear once Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace enter the game.

Glen Davis has regressed from his playoff prowess from just one year ago mostly due to doing the wrong thing and trying to do the right thing.  Breaking thumbs and getting technicals give credence to Baby’s nickname, but these thing have also undoubtedly caused Baby to regress in production.  Another big factor Baby’s diminishing offensive production comes from playing his role.  Rebounds have been a big problem for the Celtics this season and Davis was asked work on becoming a ball hawk.  In many ways, this has been a successful experiment- despite Baby’s propensity for racking up more Moses type boards than one’s that give the team real second chance points.  Davis has increased his aggression for loose balls- something that cannot be easily measured by conventional stats.

The Celtics knew this would become an issue last year.  With KG coming back into the fold, the Celtics would become markedly better and wouldn’t need Glen Davis to produce offensively the way he did in last year’s playoffs.  This is precisely why they sent all meaningful delegates to persuade Rasheed Wallace to come to Beantown.  The Celtics were willing to take on the baggage if they could spread the floor as well as the starters do.  While ‘Sheed’s numbers from the 16 to 23 foot range aren’t anything to write home about, his numbers from 10 to 16 are just where they need to be, hovering at right around 45% for the past four seasons.

So the Celtics have a stretch four in Rasheed Wallace.  Problem solved….except not at all.

Somewhere along the lines, the “stretch four” message became obscured and bastardized into what we have seen all season.  Instead of Wallace killing the opposition from 10 to 16 feet, he’s languishing at the three point line.   Wallace has attempted 270 three point shots this season, which is almost half of his total field goal attempts (581).  The good news is that Rasheed is still shooting 49% from the 10 to 16 foot range.  The bad news is that he has only attempted a paultry 83 shots from this range.  Pathetic.  Obviously, there are more things wrong with the ‘Sheed experiment than shot selection- he doesn’t rebound, he reaches instead of defends, he argues with the refs, etc.- but this is something that cannot be overlooked when evaluating Wallace’s impact and his expected impact before the season started.

With Baby losing his stroke and not pushing enough kids coupled with Wallace’s shot selection, the Celtics lose a big component of their offense.  This is something that the Lakers nipped in the bud the second they started making Lamar Odom come off the bench.  I have to admit that I do not like Odom’s game one bit, but the truth is, the man can put up some numbers.  While his outside shot percentages are fairly average, Odom balances his shot selection and most of his shot attempts are still at the rim despite having the ability to knock down the outside jumper.

Not all the upper-echelon teams have a stretch four coming off the bench, but not all of the upper-echelon teams need a stretch four off the bench.  Case in point: Orlando has Ryan Anderson sitting at the end of their bench.  Unfortunately for the C’s, the Magic just have more offensive firepower than the Celtics.  It’s a sad reality, but if the Celtics want to get better at making teams stay with their men on defense, they must prove to their opponents that they can knock down these shots.  Zach wrote the other day about the effect Rajon Rondo could have if he developed even an elbow jumper.  The lack of a stretch four only echoes this issue.

(All stats were taken from HoopData.com and ESPN.com)

  • dont_drink_the_koolaid

    baby is taking the midrange but has been inconsistent. maybe it comes around but its likely not a full stretch anyways.

    sheed (still) has the potential to be one of the best in the league in this role….if he wanted to.

  • Jay P

    I think Baby’s issue relate to confidence as well. This entire second unit just has no true identity right now, everyone’s just kinda tip toeing the water, afraid to jump in.

    Nate, Baby, Daniels I think are the biggest examples of this. Nate because he doesn’t want to step on anyone’s toes, Daniels because of injury, and Baby a combination of the two of those. But none of them have really asserted themselves at all.

    It’s obvious the thumb injury affected Davis, there’s no question about it. He could get that shot back, I don’t doubt it, but with his confidence shaken due to the injury, and so many shooters in that second unit now, he’s passing them up, and isn’t looking for that shot. The lack of attempts stops him from getting into rhythm, and any miss becomes more of a confidence destroyer, leading to less attempts, it’s a vicious cycle.

    Wallace is just an idiot, the coaches need to smack him upside the head, and tell him for the love of god to stop popping behind that 3-point line when he sets a pick. Stay in 16-18 ft. where he’s hitting almost 50% of his shots. He needs to mold his offense after what KG does, because it’s obvious he’s lost the 3pt shot, it’s time to adapt.

    And yes, the big man that can stretch the D out to 18 ft is incredibly important, Baby has shown the ability in the past, but if he can’t get it back (I don’t have high hopes) they need Wallace to be that guy, they need him to be what KG is for the first unit at 16-18ft. No question about it, it has to happen for the team to get over that hump.

  • second_round_here_we_come

    anderson verejao

  • http://celticshub.com Stephen

    Forget Big Baby and Rasheed. Face it–Because of the extra weight he carries Davis can’t get off the floor — constantly getting his shot blocked whenever he gets the ball underneath the hoop.He should be able to dunk most of his attempts–instead he has to pump fake 3 0r 4 times and still gets it blocked. The C’s better get in Rasheed’s face and get him back down on the block where he belongs. If they don’t—mark my words–he will shoot the C’s out of the playoffs—-early.I say keep going to Michael Finley–he is battle tested and won’t fade under pressure. Get Finley open and he’ll knock down the 3′s when it counts.

  • Ray Leighton

    Earlier in the Rondo post, I had presented some data showing that one of our main problems on defense was actually Perk — that Perk’s ability to prevent his man from scoring had declined dramatically from last year, to the tune of about five points per 48 minutes. Happily (?) the reason for that may simply be Perk’s nagging injury that was brought up in a more recent post. We need him healthy for the playoffs. (why does that phrase keep getting used for Celtic players? I thought last year was bad in terms of injuries, but this year, I feel like the Celtics are trying to imitate a MASH unit)

    But one of the other things I was looking at when examining all of the production stats is where do we have the biggest drop-off when we go to the bench, and it is far and away the 4-spot. As soon as KG leaves the game, his replacement, whether Davis, Sheed, or Sheldon, has a lower FG%, fewer points, fewer assists, more turnovers, more fouls, gives up more points and has around the same rebounds per 48 minutes — and the bench is not playing against starters to the extent that KG is. With Perk’s problems, and inadequate depth on the bench, we essentially have only one good big, and that’s only when KG is healthy.

  • Jay P

    KG is a 1st ballot hall of famer, and probably in the top 5 best power forwards to ever play the game.

    Obviously production is going to go down when the back ups come in. You can’t really compare anything there.

    That’s like saying.. “Man I don’t get it when I drive a Corolla and it doesn’t go as fast as a Ferarri”

  • Jason

    KG’s two-pointer @ 47% = .94 points per shot

    Sheed’s 3′s @ 28% = .84 points per shot

    28% is pathetic, but it’s not a HUGE production drop-off compared to KG’s long 2′s and he only needs to come around a little, up to 32% to surpass .94 points per shot, which is well within reason.

    There are many other points of contention to consider when answering the bigger question posed in this post, but I just wanted to bring this points per shot comparison into the discussion.

    Btw, 47% is KG’s numbers this year, but what is his historical (that is, when he’s healthy) percentage? Completely healthy (if that happens), I would hope to see KG knocking down 6 out of every 10 of these in the playoffs, which of course again changes the comparisons.

  • Ray Leighton

    @Jay P — in general, I agree with you, but first, the dropoff at the 1, 2, or 3 are not anywhere as large as at the 4, and I think that both Paul and Ray are probable Hall-of-Famers as well. Basically, despite recent concerns about Quis, we’ve been getting decent bench production out of some combination of Quis, TA, and Mike this year; that is not so evident for the 4.

    Second, KG has not been healthy this year, he’s going up against other starters, and yet his numbers are still much higher than that of anyone replacing him. It’s not a comparison of Corolla vs. Ferarri. It’s a comparison of the difference in performance between (a) my Corolla vs. your Corolla and (b) my Ferarri vs. your Ferarri. My Ferarri may beat your Ferarri, but the final score takes into account how badly your Corolla beats my Corolla as well.

    @Jason — not sure if KG really is healthy or not, but his FG% has been over 60% since the all-star break (although he had a stretch of about five games in which he shot over 90%).

  • Perry

    @Jay P:

    Good insight. I agree that Davis’ confidence level has been shaken at the offensive end, but Sheed’s fascination for operating off the high post is part of the problem.

    Last year, it was great to watch Davis step out of a pick and drain that 16-18 footer. Those were Kevin’s shots. When Sheed was bought in Doc made it clear Davis would see more time on the block instead of impersonating KG. Bad move.

    Obviously with the height disadvantage and his penchant for trying to finish a play he has no business finishing the coaching staff has not optimized his skill set. Be that as it may, Davis has been a lion in the paint.

    I’d like to point out that lately Sheed is looking more to post than launch. But you’re right, the bench has not jelled as fast we thought it would. Certainly the talent and experience are there for the circumstances to change.

    @Ray:

    If the Celts are imitating a MASH unit they should have won the Oscar.

    I don’t necessarily feel point production is the ultimate goal of the second tier front line guys. Energy is vital. Rebounding is a must and will create high percentage transition shots. Even Scal can feast on easy buckets.

    So maybe the point of this thread is for all of us to realize perimeter scoring should come from Finley and Nate. They need to pick up the slack vacated by Davis and Sheed because as you stat guys point out — it ain’t happening. Offensive boards is where they should make their mark. Anybody recall a guy named Silas?

  • Jason

    @Ray, I’m not comparing KG’s overall FG%, which includes layups, dunks, post turn arounds, but just his long jump shots. We are talking about the KG pick and pop, which routinely results in open, in-rhythm Js for KG. If he’s healthy and regularly hitting those, yippee. If not, oh boy. Since his return, he seemed aching and missing then healthy and stroking then limping and missing again. If he hits at 47%, then Sheed and his 28% shooting isn’t that much of a drop. If KG hits those Js at 60%, that’s great, but then the drop off to Sheed (or BBD) is much steeper.

  • Cptn Bubbles

    If someone could sneak up on Doc & throw a few Androderm patches on him when he is not looking we could have a new & improved Doc firmly telling Sheed to stay within 16′ of the basket on offense or sit on the bench. Since Doc is only gonna come down hard on the bench + Perk this will never happen. If only the team could pretend that Sheed is Perk outside of 16′ & pass the ball to someone else we wouldn’t need Doc to do his actual job.

    Since Doc chooses to get back rather than offensive rebound we have a 1 shot & done offense. We have to take smart, high percentage shots. Throwing the ball to Sheed behind the 3pt line is just like a turnover. When you get older you are supposed to get smarter. If this team can’t figure out what works & what is counter productive then we don’t deserve to win. What’s worse is that we have a coach who will NOT discipline or correct bad play by KG, Rondo, Paul, Ray, or Sheed. They can do the same stupid things over & over. They can stink or suck as much as they want. It doesn’t matter because their time on the floor is not based on performance.

  • Ray Leighton

    @Perry — I’m not talking about point production; I’m talking about all of the stats that go into production — essentially all the stats. The dropoff at the 4 is not just in points, although rebounding is one stat in which there is not a dropoff.

    Paul Silas was awesome.

    I’ve been trying to figure out if the problem here is that Sheed is being allowed to play the 4, when he is a more natural 5, and vice versa for Glen Davis. Although if we had to rely on Sheed for offensive rebounding…. ugh.

    @Jason, yes sorry, you’re right; I didn’t follow the thread. KG shot the jumper at 47% during the championship year, and at 45% last year, so this year’s numbers are actually typical. Those type of shots have also consistently been a little over 70% of his total shots. Curiously enough, KGs jumper FG% actually has been slightly higher with the Celtics than during his best years with Minnesota.

  • Dan

    @Brendan: I’m a bit confused. As I understand it, the long 2′s are about the worst shots a team can take. The C’s defensive game plan is to force teams to shoot long 2s. I never understood why KG takes his shots 2 feet in front of the arc.

    So, I don’t see how taking less long 2′s is a bad thing – at least if they’re being replaced by basically anything else.

  • http://celticshub.com Brendan Jackson

    @Dan
    KG shoots deep twos because he makes them with regularity, but the “deep twos” that are the worst shots in basketball are 22 footers. I like KG taking 18 footers from the top of the key. Usually those long twos are wide open. I wouldn’t replace wide open shots with contested ones.

  • Rav

    I think Baby showed in the playoffs he could be a stretch four. What we needed this offseason was a bigman with Size/Defense (i.e. someone who could take on Dwight, Gasol, Bynum etc., which is what we had a problem with last season w/out PJ Brown, since Baby and Powe are both undersized). But we got Sheed to fill that need (as opposed to other cheaper, younger, possibly better or at least better-fitting players) because we needed KG insurance.

    If we didn’t have to focus on insurance for KG, we could have got a cheaper 7-foot centre, and let Baby backup the 4. Since we know without KG (no matter who is “insuring” him) we won’t win the title, we have NO need for KG insurance (‘cuz this team is title or bust)

    I would like to trade Sheed for Nazr Mohammed this offseason. Thus, Baby goes back to being the backup (stretch) 4, while Mohammed plays the traditional 5: inside on offense, rebounding, putbacks etc. (which is what Davis has been pigeonholed into, and so is unfairly receiving criticism). This will maximise Baby’s talents, while minimizing Sheed (I actually quite like Sheed, but I think this new big rotation will pay a higher dividend).

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