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Shavlik Randolph’s 2012-13 Final Grade

When the Celtics signed Shavlik Randolph as the final piece to their roster back in February, I think I can safely say I shared the reaction that many folks around the league felt. Huh? I knew the name from his Duke playing days, but also knew enough to come to realize he hadn’t been a proven NBA player at any point in his career. Now, after passing on names like Chris Andersen and Kenyon Martin, the Celtics were turning to Randolph to fill out their big man rotation. Great job Danny!

That initial thought was one of the few negative ones I had about Randolph in his Celtics tenure. Why? Because Shav did something that didn’t exist on this roster once Jared Sullinger went down…..hit the offensive glass with a purpose.

Randolph appeared in only 19 games this season and clocked in with just under 200 minutes. Numbers like that barely make him a candidate to receive a grade at all. There’s no denying Randolph made an impact though and when you are fringe NBA player, it’s important you have a recognizable skill. For Shavlik, it’s rebounding.

The former Duke star led all Celtics in offensive rebounding, grabbing 5.1 offensive boards per 36 minutes. For a comparison, Sullinger was a distant second with 3.7 offensive boards per 36 minutes. The surprising part about the rebounding, was that Randolph was actually able to finish more often than not after collecting his second chance opportunities, giving the team a crucial lift in games like this:

Listen, I know Doc Rivers’ philosophy about offensive rebounding and I understand that. Still, there’s something inspiring for a team to punish your opponent with extra chances on the offensive end. Boston has been looking for players a la Leon Powe capable of having a nose for the ball around the basket and with Randolph and Sullinger, they may have found them for next season.

It’s not all sunshine and roses for Randolph though. The perfect example of this was when Randolph scored a season-high 16 points against Cleveland in only 13 minutes this year. So, why exactly did the power forward manage to play just 13 minutes in this performance? Since, he fouled out. In 13 minutes.

Unfortunately this was not an isolated incident.

Randolph led the team in personal fouls per 36 minutes, averaging 6.9 per game. Now to be fair, Randolph didn’t get the benefit of the doubt from officials much, but he can’t use that as an excuse. He fouls a lot and that makes it hard for him to stay on the floor. Defensively, there were issues too with rotations, which had to be expected given his mid-season arrival. The 40 percent free throw shooting does not inspire confidence either.

The fact of the matter is the pros outweighed the cons this year with Randolph. Unfortunately, not enough so to which Doc Rivers trusted him with any postseason minutes, giving him just one three minutes appearance in Game 2. Shavlik probably wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but with the rest of the team running on fumes, he could have provided 5-10 minutes of energy per game while battling with Kenyon Martin on the block. Alas, he never got the chance.

Thankfully, the C’s have a team option on Shavlik next season for the veteran’s minimum. With a tight cap situation for next year and an uncertain roster, he’s no sure thing to be back, largely due to a roster squeeze and Fab Melo still taking up a spot on the roster with the inability to help the team anytime soon.

If Randolph is able to stick around, I have confidence that, as the 5th or 6th big on the roster, he will be able to continue helping this team address one of their major issues. With the benefit of a full training camp, he should pick up the defense more and maybe put himself in position to get a friendly whistle from officials.

I spoke to Randolph at the end of the season and he mentioned he would prefer not to play in the Summer League, understandably given his veteran status. Still, the C’s have seen enough of him to make an informed decision.

He’s down the list of priorities this summer for Danny Ainge. I don’t think anyone would mind seeing him back though.

Final Grade: B

  • The Cardinal

    In Shavlik's limited playing time, he did wayyy more than Stiemsma during his stint in Boston and last year in Minnesota, yet he got no love from Doc during the playoffs.

    Ignoring the ol' "small sample size" caveat, one would think that the Celtics would be thrilled going into next season with a low cost center who can both rebound and score around the basket, and whose skills already exceed the upper limits of Stiemsma, who a year ago was the first big off the bench.

    As silly as this may sound, a commitment to Shavlik's development and re-signing Barbosa may be the two most cost effective things the C's can do in bolstering the bench.

  • CG12

    I can't think of a single reason why the C's wouldn't keep Randolph for next year. He is already signed. He is cheap. He has proven to be reasonably effective in short stints. It isn't like they are going to replace him with a real difference maker. The only way that will happen is with a trade involving players with bigger contracts. I'd love to see Shavlik get 10-15 minutes a game next year, and perhaps even more. He was the best roll man on the C's last year. The Celt's bigs generally sucked at rolling to the hoop on the pick-and-roll, but Randolph showed good timing, good hands, and good finishing ability.

  • janos

    this guy is nba celtics??

  • GymRat

    What is it with Doc and trust? Game 6 he needed to rest the starters after that incredible come back so they had enough left to finish the game. But he doesn't and they are all so gassed the Knicks pull off the win.

    I honestly think the expectations for this team (sans Rondo) were too high. But they definitely could have made it past the NYK to face Indiana…where they likely would have gotten swept or perhaps lost in 5.

    What makes for a winning team is getting production from role players to support your stars. Chris Anderson for Miami being a prime example and Kenyon Martin for the Knicks. But if either of those guys played for us they would be glued to the bench because Doc wouldn't trust them to be in the rotation.

    Why can guys like Thibs and Pop get the best out of anyone on their roster to the point Pop can pull his entire starting 5 to get back in a game, and Thibs can play his 3rd string backcourt and still win two games in a series with only 7 players.

    Point is guys like Randolph and Williams and even the Jet and Lee are all going to seem lost or like they are underperforming because Doc refuses to trust anyone other than PP, KG and Rondo to perform. I don't know if that's ever going to change, but for this team to win….its going to have to.

    • janos

      hi rat is janos tonight, i am cheer hard nba pacer!

      • GymRat

        Me too!! But it's not looking good.

        Hope you are well Janos!!

    • In Doc's defense, I will say that Danny and Wyc possess equal culpability for the downward spiral of this team since winning #17.

      If my coach didn't play the guys I acquired, he'd be fired. If my GM wasn't getting me the players I needed, I'd expect him to be canned. Then the buck stops with Wyc and the other owners for not recognizing and correcting the disconnect between Doc and Danny.

      The Red Sox finally won it all because they didn't reside in denial. Dan Duquette had to go. Grady Little had to go. Nomar had to go.

      Sometimes we have to make tough decisions. Danny and Doc are perfect to have over for a cookout. They simply are not a good tandem to run a basketball team. They are not on the same page despite claiming otherwise. Any coach would have led the 2008 squad to the mountain top. Coaching that team to rings proved nothing.

      People can blame Rondo all they want, but his situation is evolving into not too different from when Paul Pierce was about the only good thing going for the Celtics. He too used to get some flak for his playing style.

      Dinosaur ball needed to evolve into a blend of young and old. Gym Rat is correct that Doc messed up by running his best players into the ground. This does boil down to the trust issue. Plus, you never know what is going on with Doc. Remember how he kept flip-flopping between Marquis and Tony?

      Doc's too rigid. He's no Belichick who doesn't play the favorite game. Randolph needed to become a 20 minute backup as soon as he displayed his stuff.

      After we folded in 2010, Doc admitted he should have gone to Krstic more. Talk is cheap. He proceeded to repeat the same mistake with Stiemsma. Granted, Steamer was damaged goods with his foot, so Doc had some deniable plausibility. Though why did he keep playing Ray Allen last year when he had no ankles or something? Didn't Marquis or someone shake off some dust and win us a game?

      Rivers has no deniable plausibility with his benching of Shavlik Randolph. That was cringe worthy. Only an idiot would have played Brandon Bass at center. Just because Doc Rivers is a lifelong player/tv guy/coach doesn't mean he is a good coach. Take away 2008 and what are we looking at?

      Basically we got one great year of Doc as Phil Jackson/KC Jones with the rest being a nightmare for fans who actually understand the game.

      • Oops sorry for confusing 2010 with 2011.

      • Morpheus

        Yeah, i don't know what his problem with Krstic was. Defense probably, but when Krstic did get playing time(playoffs) he was good(all defense shortcomings aside). But, even then, the fact Doc doesn't trust certain players like Krstic and Shav because of defensive issues doesn't make sense. He ran with Sullinger in the starting lineup as a rookie and we all know how that went. Don't get me wrong, i love Sullinger, but Doc has glaring weaknesses as a coach and he needs to change that.

      • GymRat

        Definitely agree with you the blame has to trickle up.

        As OKC and the Bulls demonstrated, no team can ever expect to make a deep run (no matter how young and talented) without having a serviceable bench and trusting role players to step up.

        I'd argue you gave Indy just one reliable scorer off their bench and they win that series.

        Be it Doc, Ainge or Wyc the Celtics need to become a "team" again (ubuntu anyone?) or they'll never make another deep run no matter who is starting.

  • hax

    Doc's philosophy on offensive rebounds: Don't do it, and let the opponet do it as much as possible.

  • swissflix

    He was shavtastic! Note to doc: trust your bench players!

  • MontrossDad

    This lack of trust narrative is a farce…if Randolph could make defensive rotations, properly and on time, or close out to the ball and his man without hacking him he would be in the game. Simple as that.

    • GymRat

      I'm not saying Shavs perfect, but he was good enough for the team to sign and how is him being on the floor for a couple minutes any worse than watching Jeff Green double over exhausted and letting players blow by him on D or missing easy layups because he had to play 47+ minutes.

  • It's amazing how many people still make excuses for Doc Rivers. A bunch of us have understood Doc's flaws for many years. Since he's a nice guy, we have tried to be patient. It's too bad that even when there is concrete proof he's mediocre, some fans continue to act like lemmings.

  • Morpheus

    Maybe, Doc wasn't playing guys like Shav, to stick it to Danny.

    A sign to Danny. Get some front court help dammit.