Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
Chris Wilcox showed signs of emerging before a heart ailment ended his season.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 15th in the series of report cards:
Player: Chris Wilcox
2011-12 averages: 5.4 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 17.2 mpg
2011-12 salary: $3 million
Season in a paragraph: The Celtics moved quick to secure Wilcox when the lockout lifted (raising some eyebrows by extending the full tax-payer's mid-level to ink him). His conditioning lagged a bit out of the gates and Wilcox was further hindered by minor injuries. By February, we started getting a better glimpse of what his athleticism could add off the Boston bench and Wilcox thrived running in transition with Rajon Rondo (all while adding an increasing presence on the defensive glass). In early March, Wilcox was pulled from the lineup and it was soon revealed that he had an aortic abnormality that required season-ending surgery, much like teammate Jeff Green endured at the start of the season. Wilcox made a couple of appearances in the Celtics' locker room near the end of the season to support his teammates.
Season highlight: A visit from Detroit, his most recent former employer, seemed to bring out the best in Wilcox in mid-February. Coming off a solid 11-point, nine-rebound effort in a win over Chicago, Wilcox went off for a season-high 17 points (on 8-of-12 shooting) with nine rebounds and three assists over 32 minutes (albeit in a loss). Wilcox was playing some of his most inspired ball around the All-Star break, even if the Celtics as a team were doing the exact opposite.
Season lowlight: Wilcox really struggled at the start of the season. Coach Doc Rivers joked about him asking for water breaks during an abbreviated preseason, but -- like most of the NBA players surprised by a sudden end to the lockout -- Wilcox simply needed time to ramp up his conditioning. Then leg and shoulder injuries forced him to miss nine of the team's first 16 games. By the time Wilcox returned in late January, he put his early struggles behind him and played some inspired ball before the heart ailment was detected during occasional testing due to his predisposition to a potential cardiac issue.
Final grade: C+
Teacher's notes: Like with Jermaine O'Neal, we considered an incomplete here, but Wilcox was on the floor through 38 games (appearing in 28 of them). It still doesn't seem quite fair to attach a season mark as he was just starting to emerge when he was shut down, spoiling Wilcox's first chance to participate in the NBA playoffs (and the Celtics certainly could have used him on that run). Maybe most encouraging about Wilcox's play in February was his work on the glass as his rebound rate was climbing. Offensively, he maximized his shots, shooting nearly 60 percent overall, and averaging 0.981 points per play (ranking him in the 83rd percentile, according to Synergy Sports data (what's more, his transition output -- 1.526 points per play -- ranked in the 97th percentile). Defensively, he was average, though he did have a career-best 98 defensive rating -- 10 points below his career average -- and he clearly benefited from sharing the floor with Boston's Big Four (even making four starts in the first half).
What's next?: Wilcox is an unrestricted free agent. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said last week he doesn't see any reason why Wilcox can't return to action next season, the question is simply if he's recovered enough, physically, from the heart surgery (and will clearly need time to get his body back in basketball shape). Wilcox could be a potential option for Boston, but the market for his services -- as well as his health -- might dictate whether the Celtics can afford to bring him back.
Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.
Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Wilcox's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.