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Player Preview: Paul Pierce

Paul Pierce (Courtesy of NBA.com)
Celtics captain Paul Pierce, above, finally has the veteran talent he longed for.(Courtesy of NBA.com)

He’s the reason everything came together. By the end of his career, he’s probably going to be considered for the Hall of Fame, and almost certainly will have his #34 retired by the C’s. There’s reason to believe that if he had been traded, killed, or not drafted, everything would’ve been drastically different. Paul Pierce, the Celtics captain, has affected the Celtics franchise dramatically over the last 10 seasons.

It’s safe to say that Paul Pierce is a big reason that Danny Ainge traded all of his chips for Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen. Pierce was unhappy with how the rebuilding process was going; especially considering the C’s unluckily landed the No. 5 pick June’s NBA Draft. What happened between then and now is nothing short of miraculous. We can all thank Paul Pierce. If he wasn’t so vocal about his disappointment, the C’s would still be stuck in the same rut and wouldn’t even come close to being considered a powerhouse in the Eastern Conference.

Just imagine for a second that the Celtics don’t take Paul Pierce #10 in the 1998 draft. Rick Pitino, the C’s coach and GM at the time (YUCK) usually made terrible choices (Jerome Moiso, Kedrick Brown). Let’s just say he took Michael Doleac or Keon Clark…or even Bonzi Wells. I mean, we were one pick away from pairing Antoine Walker with BONZI WELLS. I can guarantee beyond a reasonable doubt that the Celtics would’ve never made it to the 2002 Eastern Conference Finals with Bonzi Wells and Antoine as the co-captains.

Bring yourself back to those 2002 playoffs. The energy inside the FleetCenter was just amazing, and the Celtics were good! No one can forget the greatest comeback in NBA Playoff history (the 21-point fourth quarter comeback in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. New Jersey–Check out the four-part video on YouTube). Pierce, just 24 at the time, was the go-to player for the C’s. He single-handedly led that comeback against the Nets.

His return trip to the playoffs with a new team came in the 2004-05 season, when Pierce was 27. The C’s lost in seven games to the Indiana Pacers, and Pierce almost cost the series early by getting tossed in Game 6 with the Celtics down 3 games to 2. You may remember his post-game conference after the game, when he strapped first aid tape all around his head and chin to pretend he was hurt. The Truth took a lot of heat for that, but he’s grown up since then, enduring two very difficult seasons, the second of which culminating in a disastrous 24-58 campaign in 2006-2007.

The key question for Pierce this season is how well he can coexist with Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Who’s going to take the last shot with the game on the line? Will they rotate? Let’s say Pierce is annoited the primary shooter. If the Celtics need a 3 to tie or win, would Pierce take it or would Allen? How about if the C’s just need two points…does Pierce take a short jumper or does he look for KG? Many questions…and we won’t get the answers until the first few close games of the year.

Look for Pierce and his co-superstars to have a balanced offensive attack, as each player compliments each other so well. Pierce could be in for a dip in his usual scoring average, but his assists and perhaps rebounds may rise. His minutes could be down as well to protect him, and because there’s significant depth at his position.

No one is more motivated than Pierce, Allen, and KG to win an NBA title now. They were all on losing teams last season, and they all have never had a taste of the NBA Finals. Will this be the year their fortunes change?

Paul Pierce’s player projection for 2007-2008:

Player MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Paul Pierce 37 24.3 7.0 4.8 1.8
Key:
  • MIN = minutes per game
  • PPG = points per game
  • RPG = rebounds per game
  • APG = assists per game
  • SPG = steals per game

About KC Downey - @kc_downey

KC is the "head coach" of the Sports of Boston, LLC blog network. Follow him on Twitter: @kc_downey

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Discussion

4 comments for “Player Preview: Paul Pierce”

  1. [...] fans        Washington Post    Thinking big in Boston     Sports of Boston   Player Preview:  Paul Pierce     SBR Forum   Pierce thinking championship with new look Celtics     BostonSportZ   [...]

    Posted by Celtics 24/7 » Blog Archive » Today’s Links 9/29 | September 29, 2007, 10:49 am
  2. I think you need some shot% in these projections. Pierce from 2005 to 2007 has had a .455, .471, and .439 FG%. Now .471% was the highest of his career and .455 was the second highest. And his .439 is the 7th, if you break down the % even more. How will the new guys effect his shot selection?
    And his .389% from 3PT range was the 3rd highest of his career. Will he get more open shots from outside? Less? And will his 3PT% go up?

    I wanna know.

    Posted by Dan | September 29, 2007, 2:15 pm
  3. if you look at kg ray and pierce all 3 had their best/most productive (efficiency, PER, player wins produced, best numbers)seasons on the best team they were on. (honestly looking most at wins produced stat for them, and Player efficiency rating, and WP48)

    KG in 2004 (won mvp led team to confernece finals), Ray in 2001 (allnba 3rd, led team to conference finals), and pierce in 02 (allnba 3rd, led team to conference finals)…. so I think this year may be their best year yet considering it is the best and most talented team they are on. and like the man said they complement each other so perfectly on the court,and are team players that dominate within the flow of the team and the game, dont force nothing and make the right plays…. theyre gonna be AMAZING

    ps- I know ray got 2nd team allnba in 05 but he was actually much more productive in those numbers (per, player wins produced) in 01. And I know some people say different years were the best numbers for Ray and Paul (kevins mvp is undisputed his best numbers across the board), but really their most productive and best years were CLEARLY on their most successful/best teams (ray in 01, paul in 02) and were most efficient and they produced their most wins by far.

    For the fg% i agree with you Dan they could each get career highs in FG% this year, they take good shots and make the right plays on top of opening the floor for each other so much…. complement each others games so well from their positions. Theyre gonna be great, its a fair prediction/hypothesis as well that all 3 could have career years this year in terms of production overall. (not saying most points scored, just saying their best year this year)……. gonna be a SPECIAL team around these core 3 star players for the next 4 or 5 years. I cant wait for this season!!! Green 17 baby, go celts!

    Posted by bobby | September 30, 2007, 3:40 pm
  4. Hey there, just wanted to let people know that they will have a chance to speak with PAUL PIERCE himself on this live radio show called HOOPSTALK on nikebasketball.com. You can submit questions at to the HOOPSTALK page, send a text to 36453, or email them to [email protected]. Include your name, email address and mobile number so that they can contact you if you are selected to ask your question on the live show. You can listen to the live show by calling in to (800) 603-6817 @ 7:45pm ET on October 31st but you must submit questions prior to the show in order to speak with Paul. Spread the word this show is gonna be off the hook.

    Posted by Julie Blank | October 23, 2007, 12:12 pm

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