When your team finishes 25-57, you start looking for silver linings. Rajon Rondo came back from ACL surgery and looked fairly healthy by season's end. Danny Ainge was able to turn some expiring contracts into future assets. The Celtics drafted two very promising prospects in Marcus Smart and James Young. But what about the returning players from last season? Marc D'Amico highlights a few areas that Kelly Olynyk, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, and Avery Bradley excelled in last year. Here are two snippets:
The NBA classifies Olynyk as a center and he ranked fourth in the league last season at that position in assists per 48 minutes (3.7), according to NBA.com/stats. The only players to rank ahead of him were Noah (7.3), Marc Gasol (5.2) and DeMarcus Cousins (4.3). Among centers who played at least 40 games, Olynyk ranked 11th in assist percentage (12.3 percent), which calculates the percentage of teammates' field goals that a player assisted. That number falls just behind Kevin Garnett, who showcased his elite passing skills for six seasons in Boston.
Green attempted 356 free throws during the 2013-14 season, which ranked first on the Celtics by a landslide. The next-highest number came from Brandon Bass, who attempted 239 freebies.
Green's propensity for getting to the line doesn't only rank high on the Celtics; it ranks high in the league as a whole. His 356 free throw attempts ranked sixth among small forwards and 30th in the entire NBA, according to ESPN. So the next time you have the urge to complain about Green not taking the ball to the rack, take his underrated ability to get to the stripe into consideration.
My early prediction for next season is that Olynyk surpasses Sullinger in the expectation department. He doesn't have the dominating presence that Sully has on the lower block and on the boards, but he's average to above average in all facets of the game and I think his ability to handle the ball and pass out of the high post will make him a focal point of the offense.
The numbers on Green surprised me, but that doesn't mean he shouldn't be doing more of it. His free throws are tops for Boston and rank well against the rest of the league, but let's not forgot that he shot as many threes as he did in the two previous seasons with the Celtics and Thunder and combined. His jumper is definitely part of his game, but as one of the few slashers on the team, his ability to get in the paint and finish is something he'll have to rely on more.
Oh, and for what it's worth, Phil Pressey can do this: