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Celtics’ Offseason ‘To Do’ Lists

 

It’s been five weeks since Boston was eliminated from the playoffs, so the C’s bodies and minds should be well rested. If work preparing for the 2011-12 season hasn’t started, it soon will.

Because there’s nothing more essential to a professional basketball player than a blogger’s advice, here are some thoughts about what the Celtics should be focusing on during the offseason.

(Note that we’re only harassing those with contracts for next year, or in the case of Jeff Green, someone who is still under Boston’s control).

Now, on with the hubris:

Kevin Garnett – The Boston offense fell apart in the playoffs. But shy a major trade or an amnesty clause in the new CBA that frees up some pricey veterans who might go ring chasing, Danny Ainge will have minimal flexibility to improve it. Which means Garnett’s scoring will be more important than ever.

We know KG will come to camp in incredible shape. We know he’ll be a man possessed on the defensive end. We know he’ll knock down the 20-foot jumper. But if he really wants the second ring that’s eluded him the last few years, Garnett needs to commit himself to delivering consistent offense on the low block.

Time to work that jump hook and that up-and-under move in the gym this summer.

Rajon Rondo – Rondo was consistently impressive the first half of the season, but struggled when Shaquille O’Neal went on the shelf mid-season and his aged all-star cohorts tired down the stretch. This core is only getting older (at least for one more year) which means more of the offense will depend not just on Rondo’s ability to create shots, but to finish them. The resulting action plan amounts, as usual, to Rondo working on his shooting.

There are three possible areas of improvement here:

  • 3P%: Rondo shot a horrific 23% from the arc last season. Even though many of those were late-clock heaves, any time he takes that shot, it’s a victory for the opponent. This may be a career-long struggle for competence but if he could reach the league average of 35.9%, it would be a huge win. It just won’t happen next year. Or the year after that.
  • FT%: Rondo shot a career worst 57% from the line on a career low 1.9 attempts per game this season. If he can get past the mental hurdles keeping him from attacking the rim, and push himself up into the 70% range on makes, it would open up his off-the-dribble game, from which everything else flows. That’s entirely reasonable, given he shot 65% from the line during his rookie year.
  • The Long Two: Rondo made a leap in his shooting on long twos this season, shooting 41% on a career high 3.3 attempts per game, up from 33% on 2.3 attempts in 2009-10. He seemed particularly confident taking them from the elbow. If Rondo can get that number up to 45% by the end of next season — and maintain it as guys actually start to contest his shot — it could make a huge difference for Boston’s offense. That may be optimistic.

Paul Pierce – Go run Pierce’s numbers. He’s proving a textbook example of how to age gracefully in the NBA.

Versus 2009-10, he actually improved his rebounding rate, his free throw percentage, his field goal percentage and he lowered his turnover rate. He’s made himself an incredibly efficient late-career player, even as his explosiveness and speed have waned. For Pierce, it’s all about maintenance now, maintaining his endurance and health, and ensuring he remains a fearsome shotmaker.

Ray Allen – Assume personal trainer and nutritionist duties as noted below.

Jermaine O’Neal – Most Celtics fans were pleased with J.O.’s work in the playoffs, especially on the defensive end. But Doc Rivers did little to hide his irritation with O’Neal’s unavailability throughout the year. And while it was nice that J.O. dropped weight leading up to the playoffs, a guy with his miles and his knees should have dropped that weight long before camp started in October. So, we’d suggest that J.O. model Ray Allen this summer. Eat what he eats. Train how he trains.

Jeff Green – Boston should soon extend a qualifying offer to Green (they have until the CBA expires on June 30), making him a restricted free agent. Assuming Ainge has been truthful about being impressed with Green’s playoff efforts, there’s a good chance he’ll be back in Boston next year. Cost and length of deal will be concerns, but if anything, Green’s weak 2010-11 performance should serve to depress his market value.

So, what does Boston need from him?

The temptation is to recommend assertiveness training for a guy like Green who seemed content to drift. Instead, let’s look at something related, but more tangible: improving his rebounding. In 2010-11, Green was an atrocious rebounder as a power forward, finishing 76th of 79 in total rebound rate (8.8). That number looks only mediocre even when pegged against small forwards, where he’d be right in the middle of the pack.

Avery Bradley – Bradley’s still such an unfinished product, he could and should work on everything. But the two most prominent things that come to mind — observed during his meager 162 on-court minutes — are his handle, which looked shaky against any kind of ball pressure, and his shooting, where he often struggled even to draw iron (on his way to shooting 34% from the field).

  • blockout54

    J.Green doesn't seem to have the quickness to guard the three or the strength to guard the four. Garnett has yet to prove he likes the contact necessary to be a post player. Rondo needs intelligent and skilled young players to fill minutes and be taught basketball by the old guys. Cheers to 2012!

    • Rex

      JG: doesn't defend well, doesn't rebound well. So let's resign him! Not.

  • Stephen

    The C's need cap space in 2012-13. Anything that gets in the way of that is detrimental to the team long term.
    Getting guys in 12-13 who can take advantage of Rondo's strengths will be key.

    • Rex

      Which is why JG should be cut loose as soon as possible. Sooner, actually.

  • Mike

    If funny you mention Shaq as the reason for Rondo's terrible 2nd half of the season and no the trade of his BFF. I guess those stories/rumors of Rondo crying after the trade were of joy or maybe they were for the phantom injury that came out about about Rondo after his game took a nose dive.

    • Faye

      You don’t even know what you’re talking about you idiot so shut up. Phantom injuries?? He actually has injuries he’s playing through you arrogant punk. Just watch the games since you don’t know much about anything else.

    • Faye

      I hope Avery is in the rotation next season. I know he had a bad ankle injury that required surgery but you can’t just let him rot on the bench. It’s just going to stunt his growth. As long as he improves his ball handling skills and shooting, he should be good.

  • Patrick

    Jeff Green needs to be signed for at least one more year. You can guarantee Danny didn't give Perk away for Green to only use him for a couple months. Danny is hoping Green can fill in for Pierce and KG when they're either tired or hurt. He's not an amazing player, but he is solid enough to fill out the roster. KG played as a post man for a lot of his career. He was able to dominate because he was young and other-wordly athletic. When you get old, you loose that athletic edge. He doesn't want to show his weakness to the younger guys. Yeah, KG can dominate in the post, but as we saw, he can only do that 1 out of every 15 games if he's forced to do it.

    • Rex

      "Danny didn't give Perk away for Green to only use him for a couple months."
      God, let's hope so.

      "Danny is hoping Green can fill in for Pierce and KG."
      Hope isn't reality. Just like my hoping he won't be resigned. Both are equally useless. Which is why he shouldn't be resigned. That'll make sense if you give it a minute.

  • Ersatz

    To me the key is Rondo and free-throw shooting. If he starts hitting 70%, then he'll go to the paint more often and the offense will get some easier points, which have been hard to come by at critical times for this team. He also shot a lower percentage in the paint this year than he did last, but I think that springs from his not wanting to get fouled, so he avoids contact and shorts shots.

    It all springs from his fear of the free-throw line.

  • http://twitter.com/mkharsh33 @mkharsh33

    What to do with Bradley? Is he any good or just another Orien Greene type of player? I think he holds the key as to a backup for Rondo or helping bring in someone with a solid trade.

  • ed judson

    jeff green must be resigned, if only to have trade slot/chip. if he leaves we must receive value in return. likewise big baby must be resigned. compare him to the free agent power forwards availabe. it's no contest. sign jeff foster with the mid-level – it'll take that for him to leave indiana. sign anthony parker.

  • Joey F.

    The Celtics need a Center to replace Perkins. Period.

  • Hope

    Trade Rondo & Bradley for Chris Paul

  • vic

    we need a center, and a bad ass 6 man……other than that keep the same team with out green

  • mrduncan

    Well i see alot of fans are talking about getting rid of JG i think that will be a big mistake. Green is a very good player who just needs more time to find his place on this Boston Celtics team. I think the more pressing issue everyone should be talking about is Rondo jump shot and his free throw percentage. Hes a good point guard but cant be ranked up there with Chris Paul, West Brook and D Rose for the simple fact he cant shoot the damn ball. If im going to pay a guy 55 million he need to be able to shoot a jump shot and go to the free throw line and be confident. Rondo has the abilty to shoot damn near 20 Fts a game but avoids contact because he not a good shooter. Rondo is key for another championship we need his dominant play.

    • NHBluesMan

      its Westbrook… one word, not 2

  • mrduncan

    Well we got Martin and Nene hitting the free agent market pick one of those guys up, address the role players and keep it rolling we still got one of the best teams in the league. Its either we get rid of Davis and his complaints or force him to lose weight and play more mins. Guy eats pancakes and pasta for breakfast no wonder he cant move fast enough to guard players and have knee pains. Hes bringing his own value down along with part of the team from his inconsistant play.

  • Jbrown

    Every one is saying that rondo need to work on his shoot. he dosent hes not that type of point guard ill take a point guard that give me 13 assist's 2 stills 8 points 5 rebounds a game the fact is we need some one to rebound the damm ball and a player off the bench to avg at least 10 points a game outher then that keep the same team

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