Scouts Inc.'s David Thorpe offers weekly rookie rankings and Celtics center Greg Stiemsma makes a big jump into the top 10 this week, landing at No. 9. Here's Thorpe's Insider analysis on Stiemsma's recent play:
Stiemsma is doing exactly what the Celtics thought he could do when they signed him; he ranks as one of the top shot-blockers in the NBA. He's fourth in blocks per game (2.6) and first by a mile in blocks per 48 minutes. Still, he's not having an impact on Boston's overall defense the way Kendrick Perkins did, and the team is shockingly in the bottom third in defensive efficiency.
This is, in part, because he's always raising up to contest shooters, even before they are ready to shoot. I like to see defenders with their hands up early, but their butts down, ready to slide. This also helps them stay grounded and not go for the shot-fake, another problem Stiemsma has shown the need to work on. There is a fine line great shot-blockers must walk between blocking and contesting shots while not fouling or moving themselves out of good defensive positioning. That's a big difference between what the Celtics had with Perkins and what they have now in the big rookie.
Great team defense largely depends on all five players moving at the exact moment the ball leaves a player's fingertips on a pass or his first dribble. As Stiemsma gets stood up contesting, and then the ball is moved or dribbled, it takes him an extra moment to first bend his knees and then to slide. Those extra moments add up to valuable seconds to get better shots than Boston is used to giving up.