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The Imminent Offensive Problems

 

Danny Ainge was willing to deal Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green for Chris Paul for the same reason he pursued David West: he was trying to upgrade the offense.

He knows this year’s Celtics team — as currently constituted — cannot score efficiently enough to land a high seed or go deep into the playoffs. Last year’s Celtics finished in the bottom half of the league with an offensive efficiency rating of 104 points per 100 possessions and while Ainge should be lauded for getting value guys like Chris Wilcox, Brandon Bass and Marquis Daniels to bulk up the rotation, none of them are difference-makers on offense. (You could make the argument a healthy ‘Quis gives the Celtics a few interesting looks but he’s rarely healthy and he’s had an above average PER  exactly once in his career: his rookie season).

Back in November, before Ainge put together the current roster, CelticsHub fielded some questions for the 5-on-5 at ESPN. We were asked what the Celtics needed most. Brian had this answer:

Someone capable of creating his own shot. Paul Pierce is the only guy currently signed to the active roster that fits this bill. There are a healthy mix of shooters on the roster, but Boston is in dire need of additional firepower off the pine to help take the onus off Rondo and the Big Three.

That pretty much says it all.

Bass may make a few more jumpers than we’re used to at the backup PF spot, Wilcox may get some garbage points on putbacks and Daniels may give the C’s some versatility, but without Rondo evolving into a number one option on offense, the Celtics won’t score enough to escape the second round of the playoffs. Because as great as Paul Pierce and Ray Allen remain as offensive players, it’s proving increasingly difficult for them to provide a high level of defense and sustain their offense game-to-game. This is particularly true of Pierce, who no longer has a chance to outplay, say, Lebron James in a series, on either side of the ball.

Doc Rivers has, in previous years, made overtures about Kevin Garnett working more consistently in the post. That could be fruitful because KG has a legitimate post-game he pulls out of mothballs now and then. However, Doc’s backed off that notion the last few weeks. If KG fades more to the perimeter, where Allen already spends most of his time, and Pierce doesn’t suddenly find his body operating like it’s 2001, incremental decline should be our expectation for an offense that was already subpar.

Going uptempo and going small make sense for a number of reasons but they sort of obscure the real point here. Doc is promising crazy lineups because he’s desperate: he knows he has to try something to jolt this offense.

I’d argue this team just doesn’t have enough offensive talent right now that these kinds of things will make a major difference. I also wonder if the major deal for a Paul or a West, which seemed so close just a couple of weeks ago, will now simply be delayed until the trading deadline. By then, the holes in this team’s offense should be more apparent, and those hoping for an uninterrupted run by this same core group may see the need to make a major change.

  • Batman

    I think Rondo may surprise people this year

    • ElRoz

      no…his shooting will be just as bad as all previous seasons.

      • red

        classic

    • skeeds

      You know what? Rondo SHOULD surprise people this year. In 2008-2008 he wasn't considered just a floor general, or a playmaker. He made baskets. Actually he averaged almost 17/10/10 in the playoffs. In 2010 he carried this team to the Finals averaging 16 points and 9 assists. His shooting being bad wasn't on anyone's mind then, was it?

      Oh and one last thing. I did a bit of checking. Of all the great PGs in the league, Paul, Dwill, Rose, Rondo has had a higher FG% each and every one of the last 5 years.

      To the people dismissing Rondo already (at age 25) I urge you. Go look at Jason Kidd's stats throughout his career.

      • Batman

        the thing is though his FG% is higher but his TS% which is a fairer comparison is lower
        but yeah people are really down on him

        • skeeds

          obviously, FG% doesn't prove much. It does however show that with the correct shot selection Rondo is very effective.

          Contrary to what seems to be a very popular opinion nowadays, his jumper has improved a lot. His shooting form is as perfect as it could be. Steadily making the jumper a part of his offensive arsenal will be an ugly thing. He's missing a lot of jumpers because (probalby on Doc's orders) he takes more of them too.

          If you want a comparison, think of Lebron's 3pt shot. He didn't have one when he came, and he's chucked up a lot of bad 3s to evolve into a dependable long range shooter over time. He still goes into slumps, and still has bad shooting days. But that's how players improve their game. Nothing can turn Rondo into Steve Nash in one summer. He has to struggle to get there. In the meantime he's arguably the best passer and best perimeter defender in the league. So I find it kind of easy to be patient with him.

  • nell

    What's new another pessimistic Celtics article on how the C's have this and that problem. Yawn!

    • ElRoz

      Green is out; Pierce is going to be out, we have JO at center (durability-health issues), and we have a point guard who cannot shoot – something few teams have.

      If you thought C's had offensive concerns two weeks ago – think of them playing w/o Pierce and Green…it is going to be atrocious and sad to watch.

      • Callahan

        You’re assuming that could happen it, but u or I don’t know what to expect w/Pierce possibly being out. This team is never healthy so we should not be surpised.

    • I_Love_Green

      What good news have you heard recently then?

  • Jason G

    By all accounts, Rondo has a great work ethic, so for all the other things I love about his game (and personality, yes even his stubbornness) I am disappointed that over the last 2 offseasons, he hasn't come back with something resembling a passable jumper. If he hasn't developed it this offseason, then the ship has sailed I think.

    There's another level to my disappointment as well. One, everyone says he needs to work on his the mid-range jumper. BS. That's the least valuable shot in the game. Plus it won't solve the sagging issues of people like Kobe and Wade. They could still roam, disrupt the offensive and still challenge that shot. What he needs to develop is a reliable 3. First, he's already shown, and mostly in end-of-shot-clock desperation times, that his 3 isn't that bad. Second, 35% from 3 is actually good enough. It needs to be 45% at least from 2 to be worth it. Three, that shot actually will open the offense. Sagging can happen when defending a 17-footer, but not a 23-footer. As much as I dislike Kidd, he's the model here. An everything PG with a subpar J, but over time he's developed a passable 3 that keeps things honest. If Rondo had that last year, it would have been extremely valuable. Forget the elbow J Rondo. Your 3 is already ahead of your mid-range jumper anyway, and it would be more valuable for multiple reasons, so keep working on it (exclusively if need be).

    • red

      at the top of the free throw line that shot needs to be automatic and a consistent three from his fav part of the floor like bruce bowen developed would help.
      If rondo developed these 2 things he would be better than paul or any other point guard in the league if he never develops them he will be doomed to being slightly above average

      • red

        i do think rondo has talent but i`m starting to believe he will never fulfill his promise rondo is only as someone said 25 chris paul is 26 jason kidd at the same age was bigger and better than rondo he also could score in the post rondo is too small to be elite without a jumper and too timid when looking for contact because of his horrible free throw shooting

  • skeeds

    this might contribute to the conversation:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4hLGM3KF_4&fe

    • Jason G

      That would be great. Maybe my expectations are too high, but if b-ball were my job, I would think I could dedicate myself to my one clear weakness in one offseason and come back markedly improved. It hasn't happened in two. On the other hand, he did clearly look to use it more last year, which I guess is something. Maybe the 3rd offseason is the charm and his jumper and FTs will take a leap forward this year. One can only hope.

  • guest

    Rondo is a unique player, who now plays for a team that isn't built to exploit his talents. This Cs team doesn't get past the 2d round.

    • red

      need to see him do this vs a higher level of competition i think avery would have had 20 and 10 in that game.The NBA should make a rule where players with under 3 years can play in the dleague during lockouts or strikes it would be better for the game

  • Kricky

    I'm worried about the D too. We are best when we have a true Center to anchor it.
    Will JO stay healthy? Even if he does, will he be enough?

  • Jack

    I dont think we should have gotten rid of Von Wafer. He was the only player on the team that could create for himself other than Paul and as an end of the rotation player he was valuable, especially with our scoring struggles.

  • Morpheus

    This is it. I think Danny pulls the plug by the deadline.

    I agree our bench looks solid, but believe me it won't be the difference to our offensive woes from last season and don't kid yourself in thinking that our bench will compensate for the Big 3 + Rondo can't shoot, on offense.

    It all comes down to Rondo's scoring ability this season and sadly i don't think he's capable of carrying a heavier load on that end. For us to contend Rondo needs to have an MVP season and by MVP i mean 22ppg, 11apg, 5rpg. He can rack up the assists, rebounds and steals, but it's our offense that's the problem here as stated in this beautiful article.

    • red

      I think danny rides it out with this roster this year guaranteed sellouts and that`s always good for business.I actually wouldn`t be surprised to see KG and Ray are back next year and pierce is moved i think pierce body is breaking down at a faster rate than either of those 2

  • ariele

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  • Pauper

    Bottom line is Rondo should put the work in and learn to shoot. Let's hope he's not another tale of someone who could have been great but ended up average because he was content with what he was.

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