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