Yesterday, the Celtics added another piece to their deep roster when they brought over Fenerbache star Brad Wanamaker. The 6’4 Euro veteran was a key member of one of the best European teams and was being chased by two other playoff teams prior to choosing Boston. You’ve seen the name, watched a couple of highlights, but here’s everything you need to know about Wanamaker.
Who is Brad Wanamaker?
EuroLeague guard Brad Wanamaker is finalizing a deal to join the Boston Celtics next season, league sources tell ESPN.— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) June 25, 2018
Wanamaker was named the 2018 Turkish BSL League Finals MVP for the second time in four years and helped Fenerbache reach the EuroLeague Final Four before falling to Luka Doncic and Real Madrid. He’s a Philly basketball legend who ran the city with his twin Brian Wanamaker before they each went their different paths during college. Wanamaker played all four years at the University of Pittsburgh, half a season in the G-league, and then six seasons in Europe before finally getting his first crack in the NBA at age 28. Needless to say he’s coming in with a boat load of experience and a work ethic that shouldn’t be questioned.
What type of player is he?
Wanamaker is a versatile player who played on and off the ball while defending across the perimeter. At 6’4 with a 6’8 wingspan, Wannamaker is a well-built player who is probably going to be used in multiple ways by the Celtics. A quick YouTube search of his game highlights his best asset of scoring as a pick-and-roll threat:
However, Wanamaker’s best chance of getting on the court might actually be on the defensive end.
With a thick, jacked frame, Wanamaker is the complete package defensively in terms of lateral quickness, anticipation, strength, and effort. Fenerbache switched liberally as we see many teams in the league do and they used Wanamaker to do everything from pick up guards full-court to switching onto bigs and battling them in the post.
Here, he picks up 6’8 Luka Doncic full court, switches onto a hard-rolling 6’11 Anthony Randolph, successfully shuts down the lob threat, boxes out, and grabs the rebound.
When he needs to fight over screens he can:
He can move his feet:
And he can give ball-handler a very hard time when he decides to full-court press:
One thing we’ve learned from Brad Stevens is that he heavily values what players bring defensively and it’s usually the only way players can earn roles on his team. With a team loaded with depth at the guard and forward position, Wanamaker’s best chance at earning a role on this team will start and end on the defensive end.
But what about his offense?
In a more expanded role last season, Wanamaker averaged 16.7 ppg, 4.6 apg, 3.1 rpg on 44.8/38.6/86.4 shooting splits in 33.5 mpg. However, in a more decreased role this season (26.1mpg) he averaged 11.3 ppg, 3.5 apg, 2.6 rpg on 41/33.3/85.5 splits. He’s a good, but not a great shooter who doesn’t have much pull-up ability but is able to shoot off the catch if you leave him open.
Wanamaker loves the PnR and does some of his best creation for himself and others out of the set. He has a very good feel for where his reads are and can thread the needle with pinpoint passing:
In Europe, Wanamaker saw a fair amount of use as a lead guard who would run heavy pick and roll, but also shared the court with other lead guards and moved off-ball where he was used in a ‘3 and D’ type of roll.
What’s his role in Boston?
Stevens has had a history of mixing and matching players and using funky lineups such as the 3-guard lineups which appeared in 19 games (the number goes over 50 if you include lineups with Jaylen Brown who was primarily used as an off-guard this season). With that being said, I do see Wanamaker being more of a situational player who is brought in because of a certain matchup, injuries, or foul trouble to provide a spark. I’d caution thinking that he’s merely a “Shane Larkin replacement.” Wanamaker has a lot more versatility due to his size and can be used in situations that go beyond simply a 3rd string PG. He’s someone who could just as likely be brought in for his defensive presence as his ability to run an offense or space the floor.
Does this signing signal anything for the Celtics?
On it’s face, and probably the most safest answer, this is just a contending team strengthening the end of the bench with veteran players who they can rely on to provide a specific skillset consistently.
On the other hand, if you’re going to make a big trade for a star like Kawhi Leonard or need to prepare for life without Terry Rozier or Marcus Smart, Wanamaker provides veteran depth in the versatile mold that Stevens love.
David Pick reported that Brad Stevens got on the phone with Brad Wanamaker and described the role he envisioned him playing which ultimately won him over. That at least suggests Boston has plans for Wanamaker on the court, so we’ll see how far they extend.