Last week CelticsBlog ran a post about the Brooklyn Nets' struggles and how that could affect the Boston Celtics. They have the 2014 pick from the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade, and it looks better and better with every loss the Nets collect. They are currently 3-6 and near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Obviously, it is very early in the season, however, it is worth discussing something else regarding this Brooklyn Nets slow start: Did Danny Ainge time the destruction of the Boston Celtics perfectly?
A quick look at the stats shows that Ainge may have actually nailed this deal.
Paul Pierce is scoring 13 points per game in 30 minutes of play. Pierce said this summer he was ready to be a role player. There are some things that do show he is taking a step back. He is shooting the ball nine times a game, compared to 14 last season with Boston (Pierce played 33 minutes per game in Boston last year). So it's clear he's allowing others to lead the way. Pierce's usage rate is 20% right now, that's the lowest of his entire career.
Kevin Garnett is a bit of a sadder story thus far. He is only scoring 5.8 points a game and pulling down 7.8 rebounds in 22 minutes per game. Garnett's bread and butter has been his 19 foot jump shot. This year he is shooting 11 of 30 from the three spots on the floor where he is normally fantastic. Last year he shot 122 of 259 (47%) from the same spots on the floor. Per Synergy Sports his rebounding percentage is actually improved from the past. He is pulling down 20% of possible rebounds. He's only sustained a 20% rebound percentage in an entire season twice. So clearly his energy is going into that portion of his game. However, it also shows that he is really only able to manage one thing at a time, both due to his limited minutes, but also because he is just a little bit older.
Garnett seems to be struggling on the defensive side of the ball. His defensive rating is the highest it's been since he was in Minnesota in 2006-07. It's currently 104.7, meaning he's allowing 104 points per 100 possessions. While this is a team driven stat in some regards, the fact that a defensive mastermind like Garnett is playing with teammates allowing that type of scoring is not good. His offensive rating is not making up for this deficiency, it's 93.2 points per 100 possessions.
Ainge said this summer that he did not see the Celtics winning a championship as they were constructed before the trade with the Nets. Now, with a peak into the house of the Brooklyn Nets, it seems that Ainge was right. It also seems like Garnett and Piece would not have been able to carry a heavier workload, but they would also not be able to step in as a role player. It would have been too difficult considering how hose two guys took over in crunch time or when things got tough.
While Ainge has a long road ahead of him trying to rebuild this Celtics team, fans should be able to reflect on the Pierce and Garnett trade and feel like the timing was pretty much perfect. Now the ping-pong balls and the next few trades will also have to be perfect.
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