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Take Him or Leave Him: Greg Stiemsma

June 26th, 2012 at 7:30 PM
By Will Clark

Story

2012 was somewhat of a storybook season for Boston Celtic center Greg Stiemsma. A long shot to make the team out of training camp  after kicking around the NBA Development League for four years, Stiemsma put together a terrific preseason, made the roster, and emerged as Boston's top reserve big man during the second half of the year. Showcasing an incredible ability to block shots "Goldyblocks" developed a cult following in Boston and had probably the best year of his basketball life. Considering what was (or wasn't) expected of him coming into the year, it's impossible to view Stiemsma's 2012 campaign as anything other than tremendous success. However, the "feel-good" nature of this story should not overshadow Stiemsma's numerous deficiencies, and the decision of what to do with him in the offseason is actually more difficult than it appears.

Why Boston Should Bring Him Back

There is an awful lot to like about Greg Stiemsma. During the second half of the regular season, when his minutes spiked due to the loss of Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox, he became about as good a backup center as anyone could ask for. His incredible talent for shot blocking gave Boston a defensive presence in the middle that they aren't used to having when Kevin Garnett is on the bench. He hit open jumpers, which is important for Celtic big men, because Rajon Rondo can get his bigs open jumpers any time he wants. He even made significant improvements in the rebounding department, not defensively but on the offensive boards, which he hit with gusto in 2012 earning the Celtics countless extra offensive possessions. Moreover he did all this while playing on a severely injured foot. All things considered it's hard to make an argument against bringing Stiemsma back. He has worked hard to get to this point and should only continue to improve now that he is finally in a system that utilizes his abilities.

Why Boston Should Let Him Go

Here's the thing – as great a story as Greg Stiemsma was in 2012 has some obvious deficiencies. He is an incredible shot blocked, but his overall defense is actually pretty bad. There is a lot more to defense than blocking shots, but unfortunately that is really the only part that Stiemsma is good at. He looked completely incapable of defending a pick and roll during the postseason. In fact the second he got into a game in the playoffs teams immediately began running pick and rolls right at him to devastating effect. He isn't even a very good individual defender as any player with a decent post game repeatedly abused him throughout the year. A lot of this might not continue if the Celtics were to bring him back. As mentioned earlier, he played almost the entire 2012 season with a badly injured foot which likely effected his lateral mobility. He showed a complete inability to move his feet in the playoffs, but the foot injury probably had a lot to do with that. If he were to return healthy for the 2013 season a hard worker like Stiemsma could improve beyond all recognition. Add that to the fact that the bogus fouls he was called for all year should at least somewhat dry up now that he is no longer a rookie, and one might not put much stock into the arguments against re-signing Stiemsma. However, as comcast's Gary Tanguay said during the year, there is a reason this kid was in the D-League. He has some serious flaws to his game and a very limited upside. If re-signing Stiemsma means that the Celtics will be relying on him to play the same amount of minutes that he did in 2012, or that he will be taking minutes away from players with more potential like JaJuan Johnson, then it's a terrible idea.

Final Thoughts

The potential downsides of re-signing Stiemsma are extremely unlikely scenarios. There isn't much to be said against bringing Stiemsma back because he isn't going to ask for much more than a minimum deal, and the Celtics aren't foolish enough to rely on him the same way that they did in 2012. They will bring in more quality bigs and give minutes to their young guys. However, if emergency strikes in 2013 the way it did in 2012, it would be nice to have a guy like Stiemsma around. He has some pretty unique talents, and does just about everything one could ask for from a backup center. The Celtics should bring him back, stick him on the end of their bench as an insurance policy, and continue working with him. He wont hurt anyone by being in Boston and may actually turn into something worthwhile if he and the Celtics are both willing to put the effort in.

Celtics 101 Reccommendation - Keep Him

Tags: Basketball, Boston, Boston Celtics, NBA

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