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Jason Terry’s 2012-13 Final Grade


Acquiring any player, whether it’s via trade, free agency, or the draft, comes with an air of uncertainty. The NBA has no guaranteed covenant and all sales are final, no matter how talented, proven, or productive the player may have been in year’s past.

But these memories—especially recent ones—often clouds the judgment of a fan who thinks of players as actual puzzle pieces as opposed to emotional human beings. We might have a good idea how a player will respond to his new surroundings, but we’re never 100% sure. No matter who we’re talking about.

When Jason Terry signed with the Boston Celtics, most (including myself) thought they were getting the second best offensive player from the 2011 NBA champions. Someone who knew what it took to defeat the Miami Heat, and a player who could knock down a PUJIT (pull up jumper in transition) with the consistency of a functioning automatic car window.

The narrative behind the signing immediately made Terry “Ray Allen’s replacement,” which was half true. The similarities were on par with the differences, but while Terry wasn’t as prolific as Allen from behind the arc, his addition projected to add a brand new dimension to Boston’s offense.

Terry could set up a pick-and-roll. He could pull up off the dribble. He could catch and shoot from almost anywhere on the floor with a legitimate chance of seeing the ball go in. He could attack in the mid-range and be (somewhat of) a threat below the foul line.

Unfortunately, the previous paragraph is written entirely in past tense because over the course of 79 regular season games then six in the playoffs, none of its sentences could be used to accurately describe what Jason Terry brought to Boston this season.

Let’s paint the picture by comparing how Terry scored the ball in his last season with Dallas with his first season in Boston. For starters, his independent action was drastically altered. On the Mavericks, 49.9% of Terry’s made shots were unassisted. Last season that number dropped to 23.1% (for those wondering if having a ball-dominant point guard like Rajon Rondo was the culprit for this drop, 28.2% of Terry’s shots were unassisted after the All-Star break, long after Rondo hurt his knee). Terry was a player who needed the ball in his hands to succeed, yet having the ball in his hands for any purpose other than to shoot didn’t happen nearly enough this season.

Age and natural decline surely did their part in Terry’s overall declining numbers, but he wasn’t the same player in part because he wasn’t used the same way. Last year with Dallas, 25.8% of Terry’s offense was from pick-and-roll action, with 25% coming from spot-up shots and just 7.7% coming with him running off a screen, according to Synergy Sports. On paper the fit was there for Boston to replicate some of the pick-and-roll action that Terry had so much success with in Dallas. There, Dirk Nowitzki was a major factor, with defenses choosing to stay home on the big German for fear of giving up a wide open shot after a hook pass.

Once he signed with Boston the thinking was that Terry could just do the same thing with either Kevin Garnett or Brandon Bass, two forwards who hardly ever miss wide open shots from the mid-range.

But for whatever reason that never happened. For the season, only 14.8% of Terry’s offense came as the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls, per Synergy Sports. Spot-up shots were the bulk of how he found himself engaged in Boston’s offense, as they took up nearly a third of his production (30.8%); Terry found 18.4% of his offense resulting from running off screens, which wasn’t ever something he specialized in.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is this: not all the blame should be placed on Terry and Terry alone for his disappointing season. Boston’s coaching staff didn’t place him often enough in places that emphasize his strengths. Which begs to ask why did they sign him in the first place? Was the plan all along to simply pretend Terry could just plug right in where Allen left and the offense wouldn’t look any different? (Doubtful, since Boston’s offense was grotesque for the past three years.)

Is it that Terry (now 35 years old and a 14-year NBA veteran) is simply incapable of doing things he once was able to do? Does Doc Rivers believe he’s too slow to turn the corner on a screen-and-roll? Too predictable in his old age to do anything but pull up immediately upon seeing a sliver of space to shoot?

Overall, Terry’s work in the pick-and-roll was horrible in the limited opportunities he had. He turned it over nearly 20% of the time and shot less than 38%. Most of his attempts were forced early in the shot clock, rarely the result of a secondary action or design.

Did Terry fail this season because he never had a chance to show off what’s left in the tank? Or is the tank just empty? The Celtics will try their hardest to move him this offseason, but it’s difficult to imagine a scenario in which they pull it off. Anyone looking to acquire him already has a fair idea on what it is they’d be getting. And it isn’t pretty.

Final Grade: C-

  • Jim

    I would trade him to Dallas for a hot dog and a beer. The guy was just a missed shot waiting to happen. To top it off he talks smack with nothing to back it up.. If Ainge could get anyting for him he should trade him!

  • CG12

    Charitable. Terry had his moments, but just as many of them were head-in-hands turnovers as they were big shots. I have mixed feelings on his return. I think he can offer more than he has shown, but he is not a good fit for the C's. He is a nominal point guard who functions best with the rock, and that just isn't going to happen on the Celtics. When Rondo comes back, he is going to dominate the ball, as always. If PP comes back, he gets a decent-sized share. Jeff Green is going to require some steady feeding of the ball. The leftovers basically make Terry the new version of Ray Allen – a spot-up shooter and guy whose action is working off of other players, off the ball. That is not what Terry is. I like him more as a semi-ball-hogging, chucking, leader of the reserves than I do as a complementary piece in the starting lineup.

  • Dan

    I would give F. And that's being kind.

  • Morpheus

    C minus? Bwahahahaaaahaaaaaa. F- more like it.

  • oldutican

    If no one would take him or Lee no matter how low the price, Celts are really screwed. I wouldn't be as pessimistic a contender wouldn't take Terry. I was hoping they could sign & trade for Mozgov from Denver. If not, don't you think Celts could get a 2nd rounder for him?

  • jman

    Terry's problem was Doc. Doc did not use him to Terry's advantages. Doc played Terry and also Lee like they were Ray. They are not Ray. Doc obviously did not understand he needed to change his offensive strategies to use their talents the correct way. They didn't fail the Celtics, Doc failed by not changing his offense to utilize his players the correct way. It's a shame for if he would of, I feel we would be playing the Heat right now or at least been bounced out against the Pacers.
    Hopefully, if Doc comes back, he learned from his mistakes and use his players to their advantages. And Rondo hopefully does the same as well.

  • check12check

    it seems like this article wants to come out and blame doc but won't do it. I agree that Terry was never used like terry should have been; he was tried to fill in for Ray. One of the critiques i have of Doc (to be fair, a critique i have of many coaches) is that he seems to think there is one set strategy for how a team should run instead of realizing that each player brings their own strengths and weaknesses and a team needs to function differently when different guys are on the floor. Ironically, if you want a guy to just stand around the three point line and catch and shoot, Pierce can do a decent job of this (for that matter it's probably the part of his game that is most intact and even looked improved at points this season). I don't think I ever saw a play that featured something like green and bradley in the corners for three, pierce on the wing for three, and terry running a pick and roll with KG. I'm not wild about this set because it essentially forces the team to only have one opportunity to shoot (though the players not getting the shot could rush in, and more advanced action would happen in the NBA than a simple pick-roll-kick), but even this is more creative and more natural of a fit for terry in the offense. clearly the guy was brought on the be a focal point on offense during limited possessions, and if he wasn't, why the hell would you get Terry? microwave style offense is all he brings to a team, but he brings it with force. the organization needs to use the assets it has more effectively.

    • check12check

      *he was being used as a fill-in for Ray. sorry that sentence was so awkward. Also, sorry for a few missed commas. It's about 1am over here and I've had a few cold ones

  • hax

    Rondo-Pierce-Green-Sullinger-Garnett is a top 10 starting lineup in the current league, assuming the three younger ones develop and improve. The rest; bradley, bass, bench, can be moved to stockpile draft picks for the 2014 draft, along with swapping this year's picks for next year picks. Just sign minimum salary rookies & veterans to make the bench. They'd probably be more successful than this year's 10 ppg bench. It lets the loyal stars stay for one last year before their retirement. It sticks us under the cap. And it leaves the team with just Rondo-Green-Sullinger under contract in the Summer of 2014 with a handful of draft picks, and LeBron.

    • GTR

      Pierce at SG = a top 10 starting lineup? Expecting Lebron to sign with Boston? Smh.

  • GymRat

    I'm team "blame Doc". A guy like Jet doesn't suddenly become a subpar shooter over just one season. If you watch NBA players decline, the last thing to go is the jump shot which is why a guy like Mike Miller who seems like he can barely stand anymore can step in and nail a 3 in a crucial moment in an ECF game.

    Doc is a terrible offensive coach. He's really good at diagraming last minute plays, but his offensive schemes all demand precision execution (or for PP to do everything). He failed the team this year because he refused to adjust the offense to the strengths and weaknesses of the roster and overrused PP and KG showing a lack of trust in pretty much everyone else save for Green.

    Terry showed in the playoffs that he is still just as clutch if allowed to handle the ball and is given touches throughout the game instead of being used as a spot-up shooter.

    I would have loved to have seen more action with KG and Jet or Green and Jet running high pick and rolls allowing Pierce to play off ball more and using motion and switches to get mismatches. This years team needed to play at a much faster and more active pace. We saw it work for brief flashes with the introduction of share ball. But it never evolved into a system.

    AB should NEVER have been the primary ball handler. He should have opperated as the 2-guard on the offensive end playing with Jet who could alternate with Green and Pierce in running their defenders through and around high screens and pin downs.

    The ball should have been pushed by whoever was open and thrown ahead, and this team should have been in motion and attack mode the second the ball crossed the court. Instead we saw a slowdown ISO heavy game that everyone in the stadium could predict.

    When a guy like Jordan Crawford can't find a way to score…you know its the system. You try and turn Lee, Bradley and Jet into Ray Allen…you get lots of missed shots and another year as the ugliest offense in basketball.

    Jet will likely be traded, and go back to averaging 15pts a game. While the Celtics will bring Doc back and have another brutal offensive year no matter who is on the floor. Doc doesn't know how to do it any other way.

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