During the regular season, the Boston Celtics took the fewest catch-and-shoot jump shots in the NBA, averaging 17.2 per game. Only seven teams were below 20 attempts, and both Eastern Conference foes Toronto Raptors and Miami Heat were above 23.
In a 3-point driven league, failure to capitalize on jump shot opportunities by spacing the floor and drilling treys puts you a mathematical disadvantage. Brad Stevens has several strong penetrators, pull-up scorers, and an iso-heavy roster. The Celtics shouldn’t stray so far away from their strengths that they become a group of stand-still shooters.
However, there’s opportunity to add a sniper or two to this group and maximize the types of shots the offense creates. In the later part of the first round, where the Celtics currently hold two picks at 26 and 30, there might be a strong opportunity to add a player who can address this point.
As we look at a few first-round wings worth targeting in that portion of the draft, we’ll hone in on those who provide floor spacing and become outside threats to complement Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown for the foreseeable future.
Desmond Bane, TCU
At 22-years-old, Desmond Bane is a little more battle-tested than most first-round prospects. He’s 6’6” with a strong, thick frame and comes from TCU, playing under Jamie Dixon, a coach who has produced several tough-minded NBA role players, including Brad Wanamaker. Bane’s do-it-all role with the Horned Frogs will translate into a more typical 3-and-D casting in the NBA, one a large sample of data suggests he’ll thrive in.
Bane made 43.5 percent of his catch-and-shoot attempts as a senior and was over 40 percent overall for three consecutive years. His stroke and accuracy is amongst tops in this class; although a bit stiff on his takeoff, he’s proven able to get them off over long defenders and make them on the move.
It’s nice to know that Bane comes from a high-volume scoring background, as he can create his own shot if needed late-clock. As for his defense, Bane projects as someone who can guard the 2 or 3, with some switchability upside to guard 1 thru 4. As you see with his wingspan, the lack of length can be a detractor at times. His high-IQ would carry him here.
Boston should be looking to add shooting and defensive versatility. Bane makes a ton of sense as an immediate impact shooter.
All great shooters have to be able to come up with counters for how to make a positive impact when they’re chased off the line. For some, that’s one-dribble pull-ups. For others, it’s great extra passing, sometimes attacking the rim.
Bane’s lack of quickness and a subpar first step limit how he’d attack closeouts and definitely hamstring what is otherwise a well-rounded offensive arsenal.
Athletically-speaking, Bane isn’t going to take major leaps forward at his age. He may become a little quicker, but his first step and where he dribbles it with his first bounce are somewhat concerning. He’s best envisioned as a shooting specialist, which is quite okay and likely fits better with a Boston team searching for catch-and-shoot snipers.
There’s been rumblings that he may not be available at 26, but his fit in Boston would be solid if he’s still on the board.
Isaiah Joe, Arkansas
In most statistical measures, there’s a bell curve that illustrates the relationship between volume and efficiency. Think of lifting weights: if you never work out those muscles, your max will be low. So the more you lift, the stronger your muscles get and the heavier weight you can move... up to a certain point. If you overuse those muscles and lift too much, they start to wear down and your max in the weight room actually declines.
This year at Arkansas, Isaiah Joe’s shooting ability suffered from chronic overuse. He took an astronomical 10.6 treys a game, including eight games with 13 or more. His volume of shots was so high that it was almost impossible for him to be efficient anymore, especially as defenses keyed into him.
The sheer fact he was willing and encouraged to take that many triples speaks to his acumen as a shooter. In my view, he’s the best shooter in this draft class and as he joins an NBA team who will require far less volume from him, his efficiency will reach optimum levels and be more demonstrable of the elite shooter he is.
Joe’s shooting stroke is picture perfect, fluid and with his long arms, he gets it off over taller wings. Two things that are most impactful about his shooting to me: his deep range and how unfazed he is by close defenders. Those traits are the perfect combination for creating gravity in a tangible way that Tatum, Brown, and the entire top group can benefit from.
In terms of immediate impact, there’s hope for Joe to be solid early in his career. While his body still needs to fill out quite a bit, he’s already a really strong help defender. He uses his Swiss Army Knife hands well in passing lanes, is great at helping near the rim and is rarely out of position. I wouldn’t go as far as to call Joe a 3-and-D player, but he’s not a liability and can probably be fine guarding 1 thru 3.
The video above looks at three main categories of improvement. Through time and new circumstances, I’m a firm believer that two will sort themselves out naturally. The main one is strength, an area most 20-year-olds fall short against NBA competition. If the Celtics have faith in their strength program (which they should after seeing how their youngsters have filled out over the years) then avoiding Joe based on his frame doesn’t make sense.
The other is shot selection. Joe’s role as the second cog in the wheel at Arkansas placed too heavy a burden on him to make pull-ups, create in isolation, or have the ball in his hands late-clock. In Boston, he’d be a floor spacer and catch-and-shoot guy only, as there are enough creators around him to take that mantle.
I’d like to see Joe continue to develop his movement shooting skills to the point where they are consistent, but much of that comes from stabilizing his core and adding leg strength. Once his body catches up to where his beautiful stroke is, he’ll be an unbelievable NBA role player. Whether it’s with the starting group or off the bench, he’d be the perfect addition to a Celtics offense prone to stalling out with so many one-on-one creators with limited space to operate.