Wednesday, September 5, 2012
Over/Under: Chris Wilcox
By Chris Forsberg
Barry Chin/Boston Globe/Getty ImagesEach weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: Chris Wilcox, who is back with the team on a one-year deal after a heart ailment cut short his 2011-12 campaign.
The Celtics hope there are more high-5's in Chris Wilcox's 2012-13 season.
Minutes per game: 17.5
* Forsberg: Over. Before his season ended in early March, Wilcox routinely pushed upwards of 27 minutes per night (aided in one stretch by Kevin Garnett's sore left hip that thrust Wilcox into the starting lineup). If he can get both his stamina and play back to that same level, it seems Wilcox will be well over the 17-minute plateau that he's finished at the past two seasons.
* Payne: Over. Assuming Wilcox emerges as the player he was just prior to his heart surgery last season, he'll serve as the primary backup to Kevin Garnett at the center spot, and a mainstay of the second unit. He probably won't crack the 20-minutes-per-game plateau, but it wouldn't shock me at all if Wilcox averaged around 18 per night. The better the second unit performs, the more Wilcox and Co. will play, as Doc Rivers will be more than willing to lean on the bench for longer stretches if it can erase gaps and extend leads.
Field goal percentage: 57.5
* Forsberg: Over. For one simple reason: Transition buckets. Wilcox shot 59.8 percent last season and that number was certainly aided by shots at the rim while running with Rajon Rondo. This has always been the strongest area of Wilcox's offensive game and if the majority of his shots come on fastbreaks and putbacks, he could flirt with 60 percent shooting again.
* Payne: Over. The good thing about Wilcox is he knows what kind of player he is. Does he possess a jump shot? Sure. Does he resort to it often? Not at all. The vast majority of his shots will come near or at the rim, both in the halfcourt and in transition. He won't really be a focus of the defense, which should help him thrive as he puts in easy layup after easy layup, along with a slew of putbacks off of offensive rebounds.
Points per game: 6.5
* Forsberg: Over. Only once in the past four seasons has Wilcox scaled above this number, but let's focus on his production last February as our guide. In inarguably his best month with the Celtics -- one in which he finally carved out his role and thrived with a focus on rebounding and running in transition -- Wilcox averaged 7.2 points over 21 minutes per game. That doesn't sound like an unreasonable benchmark with a deeper second unit overall.
* Payne: Over. The second unit will have plenty of firepower, with the likes of Jason Terry and Jeff Green getting the majority of the shots. But Wilcox will benefit from being a scrappy hustle player. Between layups off of feeds from teammates, transition buckets, offensive rebounds, and trips to the free throw line, Wilcox should be able to contribute around seven points per game.
Rebounds per game: 5.5
* Forsberg: Over. If there's one statistical category Wilcox should shoot for the over in, it's this one. The Celtics absolutely need him to be among the team's top rebounders at both ends. Boston as a whole needs to be better on the glass and it's clearly one of Wilcox's strengths (in February of last season, he averaged 6 rebounds per game and reached double digits in caroms a couple times late in the month).
* Payne: Under. Hopefully Jeff Green will emerge as a consistent contributor on the glass, so Wilcox won't be the only guy pursuing missed shots off the bench. I've already said I think the C's will be a rebounding-by-committee team this season, so with Wilcox potentially going up against the likes of Green and maybe even Jared Sullinger, I'll say he'll finish somewhere in the 4-5 per game range.