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Ray Allen still playing at elite level

 

Paul Pierce is the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week. Rajon Rondo stole plenty of early-season headlines with his record-breaking assist totals. And the resurgence of a dominant Kevin Garnett has arguably been the biggest reason for the Celtics’ success.

But Ray Allen is quietly playing some of the best basketball of his Hall of Fame career.

The traditional box-score numbers won’t blow you away: 17 ppg, 3.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists. Very solid, of course, but still nowhere near the numbers he posted in Milwaukee and Seattle. And with a Player Efficiency Rating of 17.28, Ray comes in at 70th in John Hollinger’s rankings. That would place him behind guys like Grant Hill, Wilson Chandler and Jason Terry, just to name a few.

But anyone who watches this team play on a regular basis can tell you that Ray has been almost perfect in terms of fulfilling his role for this particular Celtics’ team. Just shows up to work every day, runs 1000 miles around screens, and makes a ton of shots. He’s a leader on the court, and in the locker room. And at age 35, he looks to be in the best shape of his career. Is he a lockdown defender? Not usually. But he tries harder than just about anybody and that’s all you can really ask for, right?

However, the intangible qualities that Ray possesses should not diminish how SPECTACULAR his play has been this season. Have you looked at his shooting statistics lately? They’re incredible:

  • His 56.7 eFG% is fifth among all NBA players who log at least 35 minutes a night (hoopdata.com).
  • His overall three-point shooting percentage (43.2%) is the highest it’s been since 2001-02.
  • And it doesn’t seem to appear that Ray has lost too much of his first-step either; he’s still able to drive baseline on guys 10 years younger than him.

Here’s another stat for you:

Guess how many unassisted 3’s Ray has made this year? Whatever you guessed, go a little lower. And then a little lower than that. The answer is 1.

That’s right. The Celtics have assisted on 46 out of the 47 three-pointers that Ray has made this season (98%). If that isn’t the definition of a player getting his points through the natural flow of the offense, I honestly don’t know what is.

By comparison:

Pierce: 92%
Kobe: 54%
Manu: 71%
LeBron:. 66% (34% last year with Cavs)

During Ray’s final season with Seattle, this percentage was at 80%, and that’s exactly what it was in his first season with the Celtics. This being Ray’s fourth season in Boston, we might have a tendency to just assume that Ray has been a catch-and-shoot player his entire career. But I hope we haven’t lost sight of the fact that Ray had to adjust his game the most when the Big Three was assembled in 2007. Pierce still got the ball. KG still got the ball. They just got less of it. Ray, however, has re-invented himself during his time with the Celtics.

Here’s something Ray said after the Pacers game on Sunday.

“I’m known for what I’ve been doing here while I’ve been in this role, but my whole career I’ve had to create opportunities for myself…be a playmaker for other guys on the team…try to give younger guys the ball, so I don’t have to do that as much here.”

Listen, I’m not suggesting Ray didn’t run off screens or catch-and-shoot when he was with the Bucks or Sonics. He did. But I don’t think he gets enough credit for how hard he’s worked to effectively transform his game over the past few years.

Sometime in the spring, though, when Ray passes Reggie Miller as the all-time leading three-point shooter, he’s going to get all the credit he deserves.

  • bert

    I've thought for a while, Ray Allen is the best and truest SG in the league, still.

  • Dan

    It's amazing how well our starting 5's games complement each other. It really seems that all five are basically the definition of what you want at that position. Really the only two who haven't had to change their game though are Rondo and Perk, if only because they came up in this system.

  • Idaho

    Best shooter-off-the-catch no question. No one can shoot off a screen like Ray in this league. He is in the running for best in history at shooting off the catch.

    • anonymus

      who are the others?

      • Jmt

        Reggie Miller is certainly in that discussion. Maybe Steve Kerr.

        • Morpheus

          Rip Hamilton

        • Matt The Messiah

          Reggie Miller, yes. Steve Kerr is a no-no.

  • Batman

    Ray Allen has the quickest shot I've ever seen
    My god
    The only person currently who can come close to Jason Terry

    • CsFanInArkansas

      Jason Terry is to Ray Allen what Rik Smits is to Shaquille O'Neal.

      • Batman

        All I'm saying is that Jason Terry has an extremely quick shot too

        • CsFanInArkansas

          I gotcha – I might have misread that the first time around.
          Terry does have a lightning-fast trigger…but it's not nearly as pretty as RA's…

  • NHBluesMan

    Ray is a class act, on and off the court. Definitely one of the best shooters the league has ever (and possibly ever will) see.

  • Ryan DeGama

    As he notes, Ray really doesn't create that much for other players, but to be fair, running all those curls to get open should count as shot creation – of a sort.

    • Morpheus

      Bingo….that's just a threat within a threat. Having Ray running off screens like a man possessed….defenses have to pay attention to him wherever he is AT ALL TIMES and i'm not talking about just the man defending him either. Opponents have to pay attention to switching on picks/screens as well. So yeah he does create for others with his off ball game.

  • I_Love_Green

    I love Ray.

  • The Celtics

    if i swung the other way it might be a no brainer when it comes to ray.

  • Kobe's Daddy

    Ray Allen is a top 5 shootin guard of all time.

    • Sir Diesel

      Yea and that'll be furher validated when he gets his 2nd and 3rd ring.

      • MDftw

        hell yeah….

        banner 18 is almost a certainty for this season… the players are too motivated to be denied

        next year… we'll have to wait and see if the success of another banner will affect them for the better or the worse

        Ray is my favorite Celtic… although i like them all a ****load

  • DRJ1

    Nah, it'll be before spring. Only 62 to tie Reggie. Figure February sometime to break the record, and stand alone.

    • Morpheus

      It would be custard if he broke it at home,in the Garden.

  • rohit

    shaquille is best quarterback of all time

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