As we transition from the regular season to our draft coverage, we will first take a look back at 2013-14, grading each player’s performance. These grades are a compilation of four writers: Brian Robb, Michael Pina, Adam Lowenstein and Tom Westerholm.
“That is creative.” –Tommy Heinsohn.
Likelihood of return next year: 50 percent.
Pressey’s contract is not guaranteed for next season, and despite his obvious skills as a floor general, his shooting was atrocious. He would be a cheap option as a back-up point guard, but the Celtics aren’t going to bend over backwards to keep him around.
First and foremost, Phil Pressey can pass the crap out of a basketball. Averaging 7.7 assists per 36 minutes (and just 2.8 turnovers), Pressey showed a variety of reliable passes, a ton of creativity and a proclivity for running the pick-and-roll that may help him stay in the league despite some pretty damning flaws as a player.
Pressey is also a tough defender for his size. He crowds a ball-handler’s space on the catch, preventing a comfortable shot, and he’s quick enough to recover and be a pest if the opponent puts the ball on the floor. He’s like a mini-Avery Bradley circa 2012, except somehow quicker.
But perhaps the best thing about Pressey’s game is his confidence. Rookies frequently struggle with turnovers in part because they are still adjusting to NBA-level defenders, but Pressey took care of the ball and distributed it nicely while still maintaining a flashy style of play that made him eminently watchable.
Full disclosure: Pressey was probably my favorite player on this team, and I very much hope the Cs bring him back because I’m selfish.
Pressey lists himself at 5’11, but that’s at least two inches too generous.
His height wouldn’t matter that much if his shooting percentages were higher, but he shot just 30.8 percent from the field and 26.4 percent from 3-point range. Those are absurdly poor numbers, and no matter how good a player is at passing and defending, it’s going to be tough to stick in the league as a 5’8 guard who shoots 30 percent from the field. He actually finished around the rim at an acceptable-ish rate (51.7 percent), and he’s quick enough to get there, so if he can figure out a consistent way to prevent his shot from getting blocked (he mentioned that working on a floater would be a part of his offseason training), he might be in a much more tenable position going forward.
Not missing 74 percent of his 3-point attempts would also help.
The Big Picture:
If Rajon Rondo is a pass-first, score-second guard, Pressey is a pass first, second, third and fourth guard, with his fifth option being turning it over and his sixth option being scoring. Having such similar players at the same position on the same team isn’t ideal, and Boston might be well-suited to finding a scoring guard to come off the bench and add some punch behind Rondo.
But Pressey is a cheap option, and with a few improvements he could be a viable back-up, as long as the lineups he plays with can score enough to make up for him. Pressey worked well with Kelly Olynyk this season in part because of Olynyk’s offensive versatility. If the Celtics can find scoring at other positions, paying a point guard $816k to come off the bench for 10 minutes a night might not be bad idea.
Follow Tom on Twitter: @Tom_NBA.
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