- Chris Forsberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh
Ryan Hollins made a bigger impact than most probably expected in Boston.Over the three weeks leading up to start of the new league year on July 1, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2011-12 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the seventh in the series of report cards:
Player: Ryan Hollins
2011-12 averages: 2.8 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 10.7 mpg in Boston (3.4 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 13.4 mpg overall)
2011-12 salary: $248,000 in Boston ($993,000 overall)
Season in a paragraph: Set free by a Cleveland Cavaliers team that would finish 24 games below .500, expectations were justifiably low for Hollins, even as he arrived in size-deprived Boston (where the Celtics had lost Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox late in the season). Over the first 12 games of April, Hollins earned five DNPs and totaled a mere seven rebounds in seven appearances. Despite the lack of activity (and overall production), Hollins went on to appear in all but two of Boston's 20 postseason games, providing quality energy at times when rookie Greg Stiemsma battled injury woes and foul trouble.
Season highlight: With Stiemsma struggling through the early stages of a first-round series against the Atlanta Hawks, Hollins earned increased floor time and thrived with his energetic (and instigating) play. Coach Doc Rivers went so far as to suggest that Hollins "saved" the Celtics with six inspired minutes in a Game 2 triumph, then Hollins nearly helped Boston steal Game 5 of that series (five points, four rebounds, 19 energy-filled minutes).
Season lowlight: Hollins dipped from the rotation for much of the Eastern Conference finals against Miami. He was inactive for two of Boston's three wins in the middle of the series and played a mere 11 minutes over the first five games. There's probably no correlation, but consider this: The Celtics were 4-6 in postseason games that Hollins scored points; 7-3 in the ones he finished scoreless.
Final grade: C
Teacher's notes: It's unlikely any of us expected Hollins to be playing 10 minutes per game and aiding the Celtics' run to the doorstep of the NBA Finals. Sure, he wasn't a game-changer, but Hollins provided an occasional energy burst, finished some alley-oops from Rajon Rondo in transition, and even seemed to improve as a rebounder before season's end. An antagonizer of opponents, Hollins actually earned high praise (and occasional individual work) with the likes of Kevin Garnett, which suggests that the veterans on this team see potential in the 27-year-old journeyman center (fifth team in six NBA seasons). The best-kept secret about Hollins: His defense during his time in Boston was quite solid (he even ranked in the 90th percentile among all playoff defenders, allowing a mere 0.691 points per play during limited floor time, according to Synergy Sports data).
What's next?: If Garnett is back in Boston, another stint for Hollins wouldn't be the worse thing. Hollins clearly absorbed much of those one-on-one lessons, even if it didn't always manifest itself in statistical production -- at least on the offensive end. Hollins can be a nice depth big man when he harnesses his energy. The key for his development, however, might simply be minutes, which could make it more beneficial for him to seek employment elsewhere depending on how the Boston frontcourt fills out this offseason.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Hollins' 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.
4dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
5dESPN Stats and Information Group