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Celtics Making the Grade at Season’s Midpoint

The Celtics have played 41 games. They have remarkably won 34 of them. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Celtics midseason report card will feature many outstanding grades. Let me start by giving Danny Ainge and Doc Rivers each an A for their outstanding performances. Danny gets the mark for bringing in all this talent and transforming the team, and Doc gets the ‘A’ for making this all work. Now, allow me to present the (mostly good) grades for the first half of the 2007-2008 NBA season.

REPORT CARD
Rubric: Grades for all players will be based on their performance statistically this season and how they performed vs. my projections. Grades will be just like a report card with comments on how the player has performed and if they can improve.

Kevin Garnett
Grade: A

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Kevin Garnett 35 19.2 9.9 3.8 1.4

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Kevin Garnett 38 22.0 12.5 4.9 1.9

Comments: Garnett has been everything the Celtics have asked for and more. His numbers may be down when compared with his career averages and my projected numbers from before the season, but he has undoubtedly been the glue for the team when they needed it most. Take example from Friday night’s game against Minnesota. He left the game in the fourth quarter with a painful abdominal strain, but returned and sealed the deal with a game-winning steal. His tenacious style and absolutely intense demeanor just gets everyone, fans included, jacked up for the entire game. His defensive presence has been outstanding, as the Celtics have allowed the least amount of points in the NBA, and have the largest average point differential. I have zero complaints about Garnett’s game. (Cross your fingers that his injury is not serious!)

Paul Pierce
Grade: A-

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Paul Pierce 38.3 20.3 5.6 5.1 1.4

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Paul Pierce 37 24.3 7.0 4.8 1.8

Comments: Again, a drop in production from what I expected out of Pierce. But, it’s a good thing that his points and rebounds were lower than I thought, but his assist numbers where higher. The assist stat indicates that he’s finding his teammates better than he probably ever has. The mere presence of Garnett and Ray Allen has been huge. Pierce’s defense is much-improved. No longer does he have to worry about defending everybody and scoring every point. No with Garnett and Allen, Pierce can concentrate on one-on-one defense. Personally, I think he’s playing his best defensive game since his days at Kansas. Losing some weight in the offseason helped that too. This is the Paul Pierce that knows he has a chance to do something special, and he now has the support to win it all.

Ray Allen
Grade: B+

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Ray Allen 38.3 18.1 4.1 3.0 1.0

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Ray Allen 35 21.5 4.5 4.4 1.5

Comments: Ray Allen has been a blessing for the Celtics. He’s been injured, and he hasn’t played as well as Pierce or Garnett. But, Ray can be relied upon to play well when the other two are off their game. He’s a nice buffer to ensure the Celtics get at least one good game from their Big Three. Ray has not shot nearly as well as anyone is used to. He always shoots threes so his FG% isn’t as high as others, but 41% is definitely a little disappointing (Ray is a career 45% shooter). It’s also tough considering he was shooting 60% for a while at the beginning of the season. Perhaps it’s because Doc has him and the other members of the Big Three playing so much. 38 minutes per game will begin to take it’s toll. Hopefully for the Celtics sake, Ray can stay healthy and be productive in the postseason.

Rajon Rondo
Grade: B+

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Rajon Rondo 31 9.1 3.9 4.7 1.7

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Rajon Rondo 32 8.5 2.0 5.3 1.75

Comments: Before the season when I made my player projection for Rajon Rondo, I received a lot of flack for saying that Rondo would only make modest strides in his second season in the NBA. Readers thought it was ridiculous that I would underestimate his ability. I’d say this was definitely my closest projection. I was a little low on rebounds, but otherwise accurate in every other stat. I gave Rondo a B+ because he not only met my expectations, but he also has played well considering he has no true backup point guard. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt that he’ll improve his numbers with veteran leadership behind him (maybe Damon Stoudamire?). He’s also played better as the season has gone on, and will continue to improve as he gets more experience. Expect him to get up to 10 ppg and maybe 5 assists per game too by the end of the regular season.

Glen “Big Baby” Davis
Grade: B+

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Glen Davis 12.4 4.5 2.9 0.3 0.4

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Glen Davis 15 6.0 4.5 1.5 .67

Comments: Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis has not played up to my statistical expectations, but he has definitely been everything and more that the Celtics have asked for. When I think of Big Baby, I think first of the video on the big screen they play before the fourth quarter at home games. Big Baby is trying to rile the crowd up to get ready for the quarter ahead. There’s a reason they call this guy Baby Shaq. He’s got a great personality and he’s very very strong. He’s used that strength to his advantage early on in his NBA career. His hallmark game this season was the C’s win in Detroit when I claimed that Big Baby was growing up before our eyes. He finished that game with 20 points on 8-10 shooting. He has made tremendous strides through the first half of the season and will be that vital power forward off the bench heading into the postseason.

James Posey
Grade: B

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
James Posey 22.6 7.0 4.2 1.3 0.7

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
James Posey 28 8.5 4.2 1.5 1.2

Comments: I’ll admit, I didn’t envision the starters playing as many minutes as they have, and thus I also didn’t envision Posey getting less minutes than I projected. But, he has still played very well all season, despite fighting many nuisance injuries. He has hit a number of clutch 3-point shots, many of which to tie games or give the Celtics a lead. He’s still one of the first men off the bench and has done well to give Paul Pierce and Ray Allen some necessary rests. When Posey is injured and unable to play, you can definitely notice his absence as everyone else is pressed to play more minutes. As long as he stays healthy, the Celtics bench will remain solid.

Kendrick Perkins
Grade: B

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Kendrick Perkins 25.1 7.5 5.7 1.0 1.3

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Kendrick Perkins 29 6.5 9.0 1.6 1.8

Comments: I feel I may have overestimated the possibility of a Perk improvement on the defensive glass, but overall he is having his best season in a Celtics uniform. Kevin Garnett has completely transformed Perk into a beast down low. KG’s terrific defense has allowed Perk to roam free. Oftentimes you will see KG dump it to Perk down low and he’ll go up for a big slam dunk. KG has also led to a big increase in aggressiveness for Perkins. Now you will see him slam dunk and get fired up after. He seems like a normally mellow guy, but when playing alongside Garnett, Perk can be productive and aggressive. I would like to see Perk get better at avoiding fouls yet staying aggressive, like Garnett has. He has become quite a scorer recently, with a few 20-point efforts heading into midseason mark. Look for him to continue to improve down the stretch, especially now that KG may be injured.

Eddie House
Grade: B-

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Eddie House 20.4 8.0 2.3 1.8 0.9

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Eddie House 16 7.5 1.5 1.5 0.3

Comments: House has played more than I imagined he would, partly because he has been the team’s primary backup point guard for Rajon Rondo. House is a terrific 3-point shooter and has taken those shots on numerous occasions this year, hitting them 40% of the time. I trust House to hit those shots on a consistent basis for the rest of the season. As far as a backup point guard, I have not really been impressed. House can shoot and is a decent passer, but his perimeter defense leaves more to be desired. I recall numerous times when House was blown by someone for an easy layup. His job is to shoot and shoot only. I think he will become an even better asset as the season if the Celtics sign Damon Stoudamire, who would fill in immediately as the backup point guard.

Tony Allen
Grade: B-

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Tony Allen 17.5 6.0 2.2 1.4 1.0

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Tony Allen 23 7.0 4.5 1.75 1.5

Comments: We all knew it would take Tony a bit of time to recover from his horrible knee injury. I think he has taken his recovery slow, which I expected. I feel that if any player has a window to continue to improve, it’s Tony as his window is wide open. Last year before his injury, Tony was our leading scorer (Pierce was injured) and was playing amazing perimiter defense. His defense is here still this year, but his explosiveness is not totally here yet. He has dunked some recently, and will continue to as he regains confidence in his injured knee. He has become a vital stopper off the bench, and has filled in a lot at backup point guard due to his defensive prowess. Still, he needs to improve his passing skills if he remains at his current spot. A Damon Stoudamire addition would mean a nice improvement for Tony Allen for the second half of the season.

Leon Powe
Grade: C+

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Leon Powe 5.8 3.3 1.7 0.1 0.2

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Leon Powe 10 3.5 2.0 0.67 0.5

Comments: This could also have been an incomplete grade, but when Powe has played, he’s played pretty well. His only time this season is usually in garbage time, however. He was pivotal to the Celtics win against the Minnesota Timberwolves in Game #41, scoring 7 points (3-3 shooting) and blocking 1 shot in just 11 minutes. His 2 rebounds that game were on the offensive glass, which are hugely important in a one point game. Like Cedric Maxwell said, chicks dig the offensive rebounds. And…chicks must dig Leon Powe. Powe will see minutes here and there the rest of the way.

Brian Scalabrine
Grade: C

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Brian Scalabrine 9.3 1.9 1.4 0.7 0.1

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Brian Scalabrine 12 3.0 2.3 0.5 0.3

Comments: Let’s face it, Scal isn’t very good. He’s the token white-guy towel-waver for a winning team. The Celtics are a winning team, so Scal fits the bill as a towel-waver. I know he doesn’t play much, but his 30% shooting percentage is atrocious. I mean, that’s just bad. Occasionally, he’ll have that random 3-pointer or get a big rebound in a clutch position, which I guess is why its good that he’s around. He may have played just average, but as the 10th man, so what?

Scot Pollard
Grade: C-

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Scot Pollard 8.2 1.9 1.8 0.2 0.3

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG BPG
Scot Pollard 14 3.0 4.5 0.75 0.75

Comments: In an amazing season, it’s hard to find disappointment. But, look no further than Scot Pollard. He’s a funny guy and a big body, but that’s just about it. I envisioned him being the first center off the bench to relieve Perk. One problem is that this guy never plays, and when he does, you know that KG and Perk are both in foul trouble. It looks as if that Scal has been called upon in those situations rather than Pollard. At least Pollard is a 7-footer that has a good sense of where to be to rebound. I mean, otherwise, he’s nearly a worthless player.

Gabe Pruitt
Grade: Incomplete

Actual 2007-2008 Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Gabe Pruitt 5.3 2.0 0.6 0.8 0.2

Preseason Projected Stats:

PLAYER MIN PPG RPG APG SPG
Gabe Pruitt 8 2.3 1.0 2.0 .75

Comments: I really didn’t envision Pruitt playing much anyway, so he earns the incomplete for now. He’s been up and down to the NBA Developmental League a few times and when he’s showed up to games in the real NBA, he’s played OK. There’s definitely a future there and he may develop into a decent point guard with good size (6’4″) in his NBA career. This season he just plays the role of 12th man, who only sees action in mop-up situations.

Looking Forward
There you have it, a review of all Celtics players’ performance through the first 41 games. I predicted the C’s would finish with 51 wins, but they are currently on pace for 68. I don’t see them carrying that unbelievable pace, but I will now adjust my prediction to 60 wins. 60 is still attainable but difficult to get. I’d say there’s no chance they fall below the 50-point mark, barring significant injuries. In fact, I’ll slap my Ray Allen Guarantee on it. There it is again! Good luck Celtics!

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

2 comments for “Celtics Making the Grade at Season’s Midpoint”

  1. [...] Celtics lost their first game of the unofficial second half of the season (see: Midseason Grades) 96-93 on a last-second prayer by Magic forward Hedo Turkoglu. Playing without forward Kevin [...]

    Posted by Turkoglu Hits Prayer to Beat KG-Less Celtics | Sports of Boston | January 28, 2008, 5:02 am
  2. [...] did a piece earlier in the Celtics season in which he reviewed and issued grades for each individual player on the team. Now that the season [...]

    Posted by Celtics Pass With Flying Colors in 2007-2008 | Sports of Boston | June 24, 2008, 8:28 pm

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