Daniel Theis, who is now in his third NBA season, won’t ever be mistaken for Steph Curry, even if the 6-foot-8 German center has ventured out beyond the arc a little more recently and found some success with his long-distance shooting.
Theis has expanded his offensive game little by little this season as after hitting just two 3-pointers over his first 17 games, Theis has knocked down 5-of-7 triples over the last four contests.
While it isn’t an exorbitant amount, and nor should it be for Theis, his ability to connect in small doses on his 3-point attempts gives the Celtics an unexpected option on the offensive end.
“Beginning of the season, my emphasis was just roll (to the hoop) because we’re small, we’re fast,” Theis said. “A couple weeks ago, coach (Brad Stevens) told me I got to be a threat after the Brooklyn game in Brooklyn because Jarrett Allen played so far back. (Stevens) told me, ‘I got to be a threat and just shoot the ball.’ I got kind of the green light if I’m open, I got to shoot it and just be a threat out there. I was happy over the last couple games I made my shots and just be able to give some space to the guards.”
The numbers for Theis from behind the arc are a little surprising as he shot 38.8 percent on 62 3-point attempts a season ago. Certainly it’s a small sample size, which is why most teams basically treat Theis like he’s invisible when he positions himself to take a 3-pointer.
He lately has made those defenses pay, and since that loss to the Nets, in which Theis scored just two points, he has been more involved offensively, averaging nine points per game.
Theis had one of his better offensive performances in the C’s latest contest against the Philadelphia 76ers as he reached double figures in scoring for the third straight game. He scored in a variety of ways, too, finishing with a season-high 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Theis made baskets from within close, hit a few mid-range jumpers and, like he has been doing, sank one wide-open 3-pointer.
There’s more than just Theis benefitting from being able to hit 3-pointers, of which he has made 7-of-21 attempts this season. If he can continue to hit those shots with any sort of regularity and become a threat like Stevens asked of him, it should draw opposing big men further away from the paint, opening up lanes to the basket from the Celtics’ plethora of scorers.
“I think it gives all guys more space if I’m able to stretch the court and shoot the three sometimes,” Theis said. “Especially (going up against) bigs like (Joel) Embiid and (Domantas) Sabonis that are so far back that makes it hard for Kemba (Walker) or (Jayson Tatum) to score and attack the basket. If I’m able to stretch the court sometime, shoot the three, or even get them moving up there after same-side pick-and-rolls, the bigs got to come out of the paint at one point.”