The Banners Broadcast Episode 9:
Efficiency is the centerpiece of Gordon Hayward’s production. Playing in a low-possession (last in pace), methodical offense and taking less attempts than the year prior, he produced a career scoring year for the sixth straight season.
His push for a seventh straight jump in points comes relies on the distribution prowess Boston is able to display. The ball is now in Kyrie Irving’s hands, an iso-dominant player through his Cavaliers career, and there’s a question of whose team is this? The answer, if all goes well, is that it won’t matter.
The Celtics are going to try to find a balance of pushing their pace-and-space philosophy, which bodes extremely well for Hayward’s versatile scoring skill set, while also making Irving and to an extent Jayson Tatum comfortable in what they do best.
ISO-ball won’t be a focal point of what the Celts do, that’s not in Brad Stevens’ nature, but its worth taking advantage of the sensational talents at his disposal. Irving was on the edge of the 95th percentile on iso plays last year, a whopping 1.12 points per 5.1 possessions per game. Tatum was in the 86th percentile in his lone season at Duke.
The adjacent argument to style is lineups. The Celts have a wide variety of players, many rookies, who look as though they can fill a number of roles ranging from ball-handler to bigs in the Stevens system. Aron Baynes played minimal minutes in Detroit behind Andre Drummond, but posted a double-double per 36 minutes and a +6.4 net rating when he was on the court. He could be the next Amir Johnson, but without a three-point stroke. Johnson’s was slow-motion, but he had one.
Terry Rozier is another intriguing piece in this puzzle. He’s been a miraculous playoff performer early in his career, this past spring he fit in as a wing in small-ball lineups. His sensational rebounding ability as a guard, mixed with a stroke of 37% three-point shooting made him a lineup virtue despite his ball-control and finishing issues. He sits in the realm Marcus Smart once did, a mix of useful skills that can’t fit into one concrete role. If he can grow into a distribution role, he may be vital to this year’s bench.
Then there’s Tatum and Semi Ojeleye, drafted on opposite ends of the board yet could provide equal importance in the context of this year’s team. The Celts are missing steady bench scoring in Kelly Olynyk and a true three-and-D threat in Jae Crowder. Tatum brings the polished array of footwork, face-ups, post-ups and shooting that would make many veterans swoon. Ojeleye has an equally impressive chiseled frame and both can shoot the three. Neither seem poised to start, but their useful abilities have to be utilized in some way.
It’s all a complicated work in progress that could make the early portion of the season tricky for Stevens and the Celts as they start from square one on lineups. Luckily, there’s no lack of talent or depth and that alone should help propel them through difficult stretches. This week on the Banners Broadcast, Jeff Clark and I discussed the roles of Hayward, Tatum, Ojeleye, Rozier, Baynes as well as Abdel Nader.