Boston Celtics: 2011ReportCard

Report card recap

June, 6, 2011
ESPNBoston.comOur favorite mark was a reflection of how the Celtics tailed off at season's end.
With our three-week report card series over, here's a look at all of the final marks with a note on how the grading turned out:

Ray Allen -- A-
Rajon Rondo -- B+
Paul Pierce -- B+
Kevin Garnett -- B+
Shaquille O'Neal -- B+
Delonte West -- B
Glen Davis -- B-
Jeff Green -- C+
Nenad Krstic -- C+
Von Wafer -- C+
Jermaine O'Neal -- C
Late-season additions -- F
Avery Bradley -- Incomplete
The Departed -- Various

Coaching/Front Office
Doc Rivers -- A-
Danny Ainge -- B+

A quick note on the grading process: It's an inexact science, to be sure. Ultimately, it was my goal to grade the player based on production (compared to expectations based on that player's role within the team and his salary). I think the rash of B+'s speak to the fact that a lot of these guys were up and down and it sorta balanced out there (more good than bad, in most cases). There's no curve or anything like that: We were not trying to end up with X amount of A's, B's, C's, etc. It's just that individual player versus expectations. If you look at the midseason report card, the Big Four were up in the A range, but Boston as a team was excelling at that point. Like their grades, the team came back to Earth after midseason.

During the month of June, we'll turn our attention to the NBA Draft and try to start identifying players that the Celtics might target with the Nos. 25 and 55 picks.

Report card: Danny Ainge

June, 2, 2011
Noah Graham/NBAE/Getty ImagesDanny Ainge made some brazen moves in Boston's quest for Banner 18.
Over the past few weeks, we took a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's (or, in this case, general manager's) season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the 16th and final entry in the series of report cards:

President of basketball operations: Danny Ainge

Season in a paragraph: Rarely was their a dull moment for Ainge during the 2010-11 season as he made 11 offseason signings while reassembling and revamping the Celtics' roster after a Game 7 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers in last year's NBA Finals. Despite preaching a love for the team's 15-man roster coming out of training camp and through the early portion of the season, injuries and inconsistent bench play forced Ainge to overhaul 1/3 of Boston's roster at the trade deadline and that left him under heavy scrutiny when the Celtics bowed in the second round of the 2011 playoffs.

Season highlight: With some general managers throwing around foolish money at the start of free agency last summer, Ainge quietly (and quickly) retained coach Doc Rivers on a one-year deal; got Paul Pierce to sign a team-friendly, four-year deal after opting out of the final cap-unfriendly year of his previous deal; and enticed Ray Allen to ink a two-year, $20 million deal. That put the core back together and Ainge built from there, signing Jermaine O'Neal at the mid-level exception, then inking Delonte West and Shaquille O'Neal at bargain-basement veteran minimum deals. The maneuvering gave Boston -- when healthy -- the deepest 15-man roster in basketball.

Season lowlight: You can debate the Kendrick Perkins trade until you're blue in the face, but the fact of the matter is the jury will long be out on winners and losers in the swap that brought Jeff Green, Nenad Krstic, and a future first-round pick to Boston (much of it will depend on whether the C's can retain Green and Krstic, and how that first-round pick is utilized). The lowlight of Ainge's season was more likely a Semih Erden/Luke Harangody deal, the rookies shipped to Cleveland for a future second-round pick. Time will tell if Erden and Harangody will develop into solid NBA role players (Erden sure showed potential), but the three players that Boston obtained with its late-season roster space -- Troy Murphy, Carlos Arroyo, and Sasha Pavlovic, contributed next to nothing down the stretch and are unlikely to be back in Boston (while Erden and Harangody had second years on their rookie deals).

Final grade: B+

Teacher's notes: (Ducks and covers) OK, we know this won't be a popular grade among those that think Ainge's maneuvering was the single biggest reason why the Celtics didn't win a world title (And, yes, you can make the case that the team put way too much faith in an ailing 39-year-old center, but it was ultimately health that was the biggest detriment to that title quest, whether it be in regards to Marquis Daniels, Rajon Rondo, or Shaq). Ainge had a rather brilliant offseason making 11 signings. His only errors: Not making Tony Allen more of a priority (even though there's no guarantee he would have been back) and you can make the case that Jermaine O'Neal didn't deserve the full mid-level (though, if he had been healthy throughout the 2010-11 campaign, he certainly might have justified the loftier price tag). Let's remember with the Perkins trade that 1) Boston was desperate for some wing depth with the prospects of playing the likes of LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in the postseason and 2) Perkins was almost certainly going to walk away as an unrestricted free agent at season's end (Boston didn't have the cap room necessary to retain him). Ainge has never been shy about making a bold move and did what he thought would put the Celtics in the best position now (Green solidifying the wing better than a scrapheap pickup could have) and the future (Boston envisions Green as a potential building block in the overhaul that awaits after the 2011-12 season).

What's next?: Ainge faces maybe his most daunting offseason yet. Not only must he supplement an aging core with limited resources, he can't even be sure just how limited those resources will be with players and owners still working on the next collective bargaining agreement, a process that is likely to put the free-agent period on hold if/when there's a lockout come July 1. Ainge will have the Nos. 25 and 55 picks in June's draft to work with and while it's unlikely he'll find immediate impact players at those spots, he might be able to find role players that fit the team's desire to get younger and more athletic.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Ainge's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Doc Rivers

May, 31, 2011
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesCeltics coach Doc Rivers doesn't agree with a call during a playoff game in Miami.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's (and, in this case, coach's) season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the 15th in the series of report cards:

Coach: Doc Rivers
2010-11 salary: $5.5 million

Season in a paragraph: After giving thought to walking away from the Celtics' bench in order to spend more time with his family, Rivers returned this season on a one-year deal. That helped Boston keep its core intact entering the 2010-11 campaign, but injuries, particularly at the center position, kept Rivers' lineups in constant flux, and he did a rather amazing job just keeping this ship steady as Boston boasted a 46-15 record before the sail ripped off a bit in the final month of the regular season.

Season highlight: Rivers has slowly earned a reputation as the Czar of the Dry Erase Board and that was on full display during the opening round of the playoffs against the New York Knicks. In both Games 1 and 2, Boston needed some of his late-game magic to help the Celtics escape with wins. As Kevin Garnett, who would hit the key basket in Game 2, bottom-lined it about Rivers' play-calling talents in the aftermath of the Game 1 triumph: "He's the best."

Season lowlight: Already peeved about having to play a travel-unfriendly second night of a back-to-back in Phoenix in late January (this after playing the night before in Portland), Rivers quickly grew infuriated with the officiating, particularly that of Steve Javie, and earned his only ejection of the year with 4:33 remaining in the first half against the Suns. Making matters worse, Rivers got fined $15,000 for failing to leave the court in a timely manner. The The Celtics were tagged with six technical fouls in that game and both Rivers and Garnett were ejected. It was also one of Boston's most lopsided and ugly losses of the season with Phoenix prevailing, 88-71.

Final grade: A-

Teacher's notes: Pundits will make the usual claim that, "Anyone can coach a team with the Big Four on it." Sure, that makes Rivers' job on the court easier (even if most of us know that managing superstar egos is no small task). But much like the 2009-10 season, Rivers was tested by injuries that limited Rajon Rondo and Garnett at times this season and Boston didn't really have a starting center in place until late March (and who would have thought it would be Jermaine O'Neal at that point?) Maybe the only true gripes you can present about Rivers this season: He never figured out how to get the most out of trade acquisition Jeff Green (expect that to be remedied if Green is back next season) and his rotations continued to be a little too tight, Rivers leaning on his stars throughout the season and maybe taking a little too much gas out of their tanks by season's end.

What's next?: With rumors still swirling about whether he'd finally take a coaching sabbatical, Rivers surprised many by inking a five-year, $35 million extension this offseason that guarantees he'll be around for not only one more rodeo with the Big Three next season, but through the rebuilding/reshaping process that should follow. Given Boston's success over the past four seasons, Rivers has elevated to among the league's coaching elite and his presence alone gives players a reason to consider Boston as a destination (heck, Shaquille O'Neal cited it as reason No. 1 he was willing to ink a league-minimum deal last summer). As Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge announced the extension earlier this month, he couldn't hide the joy in having a franchise coach to guide Boston through whatever lies ahead. "The most important thing is that we have a really good coach for years to come," said Ainge. "That’s exciting.”

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Rivers' 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Jermaine O'Neal

May, 30, 2011
Ned Dishman/NBAE/Getty ImagesJermaine O'Neal turned out to be a key postseason contributor despite injuries.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the 14th in the series of report cards:

Player: Jermaine O'Neal
2010-11 averages: 5.4 points, 3.7 rebounds, 1.3 blocks
2010-11 salary: $5.8 million

Season in a paragraph: For his first six months in Boston, the Celtics couldn't keep O'Neal on the court. There was a left hamstring injury in training camp, a left wrist injury in the preseason, and -- most importantly -- the left knee issues that sacked him from 56 regular-season games (nearly 70 percent of the campaign). But after relenting to left knee surgery in early February, O'Neal was able to get back on the floor and stay there from March 31 through the playoffs (this, despite playing through back stiffness and further injuring his wrist in the postseason to the point where he'll need offseason surgery to fix a fracture).

Season highlight: Considering how many people wrote him off as went in for surgery in February, it had to be redeeming for O'Neal to not only serve as the team's starting center throughout the postseason, but be the sort of contributor he was in Round 1 against the Knicks. O'Neal might have peaked in the playoff opener, scoring 12 points while making all six shots he attempted to go along with four rebounds and four blocks over 22:34. What's more, O'Neal took a pair of second-half charges, which might have helped change the complexion of the game and allowed Boston to rally late for a win that ignited a four-game sweep.

Season lowlight: Even in his finest Boston moment, O'Neal was intertwined with injury. While taking one of those key charges in Game 1, O'Neal landed on the already ailing left wrist and grimaced as he walked off the court, aggravating an injury that already featured torn cartilage from absorbing a preseason charge in Toronto. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge later revealed that O'Neal had the fracture in his wrist, which undoubtedly limited him a bit -- even if he never used it as a crutch -- the rest of of the postseason.

Final grade: C

Teacher's notes: While most of his teammates watched their grades dip late in the season and into the playoffs, O'Neal did the exact opposite, climbing a full letter grade from our midseason report card (and even then people thought that mark was too generous). O'Neal might not have been able to sustain the impact he had in Game 1 of the Knicks series -- Boston doesn't win that game without him -- but O'Neal was able to stay on the floor and provided a steady presence. For the postseason, he averaged 5.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks over 21.9 minutes per game. Celtics coach Doc Rivers often asked if a player could get healthy and made a postseason impact, would you forget his regular-season ordeals? Guys like O'Neal and Delonte West used strong postseason play to help mask the fact that they struggled to stay on the floor during the regular season.

What's next?: O'Neal is under contract in Boston for one more season at $6.2 million (this after signing a 2-year deal at the full mid-level exception last summer). While he admitted he'd take some time to evaluate his future -- even at just 32 years old, he's got a lot of NBA miles on his tires -- his strong play at season's end probably ensure he's back with the Celtics' core looking for the world title that enticed him to come to Boston in the first place. The bigger question is for management: Can Jermaine O'Neal be your starting center next season? Regardless of the number of games next season with a potential lockout looming, but particularly if it's the usual 82, it's hard to imagine O'Neal's health holding up for the duration.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on O'Neal's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Von Wafer

May, 29, 2011
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesVon Wafer had his moments -- good and bad -- during the 2010-11 season with Boston.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the 13th in the series of report cards:

Player: Von Wafer
2010-11 averages: 3.2 points, 0.8 rebounds, 0.6 assists
2010-11 salary: $854,389

Season in a paragraph: Nothing came easy for Wafer this season. From fending off furious charges in training camp to earn a final roster spot, to an early season scuffle with teammate Delonte West, to an ill-time calf injury as he was playing some of his most inspired ball of the season, it was a never-ending grind just to stay on the court for a player that was with his seventh NBA team in his six seasons (with a Greek flirtation mixed in). Wafer never quite developed into the X-Factor that Paul Pierce suggested before the season he had potential to be, but provided serviceable depth at the wing position.

Season highlight: When Marquis Daniels suffered the frightening spine injury in early February that ended his season, Wafer got thrust into a larger role as Pierce's primary backup. During a nationally televised blockbuster against the Heat on Feb. 13, Wafer chipped in 10 points on 4-of-5 shooting, hitting a pair of 3-pointers, while adding 2 rebounds and 2 steals over 14 minutes in an 85-82 triumph at TD Garden. Wafer played steady minutes through the month until ...

Season lowlight: Despite erupting for seven points in five minutes during a visit from the Golden State Warriors on Feb. 4, Wafer landed awkwardly while trying to chase Golden State's Monta Ellis on a layup with 10:29 to play in the second quarter. He immediately grabbed at the right calf, then hobbled off the court and straight to the locker room. He'd sit out the next 13 games and played a total of seven minutes in his first seven games back before earning a pair of starts as Boston rested its starters to close out the regular season. (Dishonorable mention: A blown dunk in the Washington game that was maybe the most head-shaking moment of the season).

Final grade: C+

Teacher's notes: The Celtics were hoping for 2008-09 Wafer, who averaged career highs of 9.7 points per game and shot 39 percent beyond the 3-point line while helping the Rockets into the postseason. Instead, Boston got non-2008-09 Wafer, a player that appeared in just 75 games during his first three NBA seasons and had little impact on the final box score. To his credit, Wafer, who deadpanned that he had heard about his poor defensive reputation on the first day he met the Boston media in August, bought into Boston's defensive-first mentality and that eventually helped him get on the court. But Wafer shot a mere 26.9 percent beyond the arc in Boston and mostly thrived going at the rim. Once Jeff Green was brought in, Wafer fell on the depth chart and logged only five minutes in two appearances in the postseason.

What's next?: Wafer is an unrestricted free agent and seems destined to extend that journeyman status for a chance to play somewhere that can offer him more minutes. The Celtics would seemingly have some interest in keeping him around for low-cost, perimeter depth and he showed quality glimpses. But with Pierce and Green in place, his minutes would remain limited here.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Wafer's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Ray Allen

May, 27, 2011
AP Photo/J Pat CarterRay Allen did most of his damage much further away from the rim this season.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the 11th in the series of report cards:

Player: Ray Allen
2010-11 averages: 16.5 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists
2010-11 salary: $10 million

Season in a paragraph: In a 14-year career highlighted by his shooting exploits, all the 35-year-old Allen did this season was shoot career bests of 49.1 percent from the floor and 44.4 percent beyond the arc. Along the way, he shattered Reggie Miller's all-time record for 3-pointers made. Ho-hum, just another year at the office for maybe the best perimeter shooter the game's seen. About the only real negative for Allen: He shot "just" 88.1 percent at the charity stripe (this after shooting 90 percent or better in seven of his last eight seasons).

Season highlight: The obvious answer here is Feb. 10, where Allen buried a pair of first-quarter 3-pointers against the rival Lakers to leapfrog Miller in the NBA record books. But Boston lost that night and that certainly tempered the moment a little bit. From a pure game standpoint, Game 3 vs. the Knicks in which Allen connected on 8-of-11 trifectas (and 11-of-18 shots overall) while pouring in a playoff-high 31 points was tough to beat considering the stage.

Season lowlight: Allen went through a couple maddening stretches where the Celtics did a terrible job at getting him shots, particularly when their pick-setting broke down late in the year. In lieu of any real terrible performances, it's likely Allen will simply lament his shooting in the Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Heat. In Games 2-5, Allen connected on just 17-of-42 shots overall (41 percent), including a mere 7 of 20 (35 percent) inside the 3-point arc while averaging 14.3 points per game (not awful, but not what Allen would strive for in a key postseason series).

Final grade: A-

Teacher's notes: Was Ray Allen the Celtics' MVP? Of course not. But his high grade is a reflection of a player that performed his role almost to perfection. Again, just think about what Allen did in his 14th year in the league, posting career highs in field goal percentage both overall and beyond the arc. NBA players shouldn't be peaking at age 35 (and don't try the argument that he did it because his attempts are dwindling; it's almost more impressive for a shooter to do what he did with less volume). Here's one key stat that drives home his impact: When Allen scored 20 points or more during the regular season, Boston was 18-4 overall. Or how about this: When Allen connected on four 3-pointers or more, the Celtics were 10-0 during the regular season (for what it's worth, Allen was 46 of 67 from beyond the arc in those 10 games, a ridiculous 68.7 percent).

What's next?: Allen owns a player option for next season at $10 million, but suggested after Boston's season ended that he had no plans to go elsewhere. Considering the numbers he puts up -- and the consistency with which he does it -- that's a steal for Boston (who had paid him $18.8 million for the 2009-10 campaign). Allen will turn 36 this offseason and, like each of the past few seasons, we'll wait for Father Time to catch up with him. Instead, Allen just keeps doing sprints past him. That said, Boston does have to bring down Allen's minutes. His 36:06 per game this year was higher than his average during the first year of the Big Three era (35:53 during Boston's title season). Even with a slight rollback in minutes, it's hard to imagine a downturn in production. Allen might be shooting 3's straight into his 40's if he desires.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Allen's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Nenad Krstic

May, 26, 2011
Elsa/Getty ImagesNenad Krstic enjoyed a honeymoon period, but injuries and reduced playing time worked against him.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the 10th in the series of report cards:

Player: Nenad Krstic
2010-11 averages: 9.1 points, 5.3 rebounds (Boston); 8.1 points, 4.7 rebounds (overall)
2010-11 salary: $5.5 million

Season in a paragraph: The 'other guy' in a swap that brought Jeff Green (and a future first-round pick) to Boston in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson, Krstic soon left us joking that he was actually the primary acquisition given his inspired play after joining the Celtics. Krstic's 24-game Boston tenure was highlighted by a spectacular eight-game stretch to start the month of March (he reached double figures in scoring seven times and produced two double-doubles). Alas, his confidence soon eroded, he suffered a knee bruise in late March (and another in practice shortly after), and the return of Jermaine O'Neal (and, to a smaller degree, Shaquille O'Neal) left him unable to get off the bench at times during the postseason.

Season highlight: Krstic earned an Eastern Conference Player of the Week nomination after a brilliant three-game stretch in early March. He registered 17 points on 7-of-10 shooting with 9 rebounds over 38 minutes on March 9 vs. the Clippers; 16 points on 6-of-15 shooting with 15 rebounds over 34 minutes on March 11 vs. the 76ers; and 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting with 14 rebounds over 27 minutes vs. the Bucks on March 13. In his first eight appearances for Boston, Krstic reached double figures in all but his debut and averaged 14.7 points and 8.5 rebounds over 29.2 minutes per game, while shooting 57.1 percent from the floor.

Season lowlight: By mid-March, Krstic had started to over-think the game (and Boston's playbook) a bit and drew the ire of coach Doc Rivers when he couldn't move past simple mistakes (like a missed defensive rotation). Krstic suffered a right knee bruise in San Antonio on March 31 -- the same night Jermaine O'Neal returned to action -- and a left knee bruise suffered in practice soon after didn't aid his cause. Krstic averaged a mere 1.7 points and 1.7 rebounds over 8 minutes per game in the postseason, earning two DNP's during the Miami series when Shaq was activated.

Final grade: C+

Teacher's notes: If Krstic had maintained his initial level of play, it would have been interesting to see if the Perkins trade was as much of a topic as it was by season's end. The fact that both Krstic and Green made little impact during Boston's late-season struggles simply thrust the deal under the microscope that much more. As for Krstic, he earned the sixth highest salary on the team, the most of any non-playoff starter, and his own struggles late in the season dragged his grade down despite the fantastic start. Krstic never quite acclimated to the reserve role, though he showed potential to succeed there in Game 5 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Heat, chipping in 8 points, 2 rebounds, and 2 blocks over 15:36.

What's next?: Krstic is an unrestricted free agent, but Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has expressed an interest in retaining his services. Barring an overhaul in how teams can retain their own free agents in the new collective bargaining agreement, Boston should have a chance to bring back Krstic, but it's going to be pricey given his already elevated salary. If the team is willing to absorb that price tag (and Krstic is willing to play on a short-term deal), it would offer the Celtics a player with far more potential than what they'd find otherwise for a veteran minimum contract. A summer to dive into the playbook would seemingly help Krstic (alas, we said the same about Robinson and he never found a way to flourish in a bench role). Here's the key for Boston: Is the team confident Jermaine O'Neal can endure the rigors of an 82-game season (or however many games a potential lockout limits the 2011-12 campaign to)? Krstic showed he can thrive as a starter here and might just find himself in that role at times next season.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Krstic's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Delonte West

May, 25, 2011
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesAfter battling injuries, Delonte West saved his finest play for Boston's final games.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the ninth in the series of report cards:

Player: Delonte West
2010-11 averages: 5.6 points, 2.7 assists, 1.5 rebounds
2010-11 salary: $854,389

Season in a paragraph: To label West's season as frustrating might be an understatement. After dealing with legal woes over the summer, West inked a veteran-minimum deal with Boston and knew he'd have to sit out the first 10 games of the season due to a league suspension from his off-the-court troubles. In his fifth game back, West fractured his right wrist on a strong drive to the basket and missed the next 39 games before returning in mid-February. Three games later, he chipped a bone in his right ankle during an offday walkthrough with some of the team's midseason acquisitions. West appeared in 16 of Boston's final 17 regular-season games (sitting out the season finale) and, finally able to find a rhythm, produced his best play against Miami in an Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Season highlight: West got showered with support by the Garden faithful while checking into his first game of the season on Nov. 17 against the Wizards, then chipped in a season high 12 points to go along with five rebounds and four assists over 21 minutes in a lopsided win. Honorable mention: West averaged 10.2 points per game in five solid postseason efforts against the Heat.

Season lowlight: By season's end, West said he was done talking about injuries (even as he fought through swelling in his ankle and a left shoulder injury sustained in the Heat series). Limited to 24 games during the regular season, West had so many starts and stops and the toughest part might have simply been trying to stay positive in the face of so many roadblocks.

Final grade: B

Teacher's notes: The final of 11 offseason signings by the Celtics, West was the steady backup ball-handler that Boston so desperately craved in recent seasons. Alas, the injuries limited his ability to help the second unit over the first six months of the season and, by the time he was healthy, the second unit had been completely overhauled. West did a good job facilitating the offense, his assists per 36 minutes (5.1) rivaling the best mark of his career (5.4 in 2007-08). But it wasn't until the Miami series that we saw what West was truly capable of contributing on a consistent basis.

What's next?: West is an unrestricted free agent again and it will be interesting to see if he draws increased interest outside of Boston this offseason (last summer, the Celtics were one of the few teams willing to consider him given his off-the-court troubles). Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge confirmed the team is interested in bringing West back, but they'll need to do it cheaply (another minimum deal, or a slight bump potentially utilizing non-Bird rights, depending on how the new collective bargaining agreement looks). A healthy West would have gone a long way towards limiting the wear and tear on Rajon Rondo this past regular season ... so long as West can stay healthy.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on West's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Rajon Rondo

May, 24, 2011
David Butler II/US PresswireInjuries might have slowed Rajon Rondo after an amazing start to the 2010-11 season.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the eighth in the series of report cards:

Player: Rajon Rondo
2010-11 averages: 10.6 points, 11.2 assists, 2.3 steals
2010-11 salary: $9.1 million

Season in a paragraph: Rondo was otherworldly out of the gates, handing out 15 or more assists in four of Boston's first five games (and seven of its first 10 overall), including 17 dimes on opening night against Miami and 24 against the Knicks three nights later. That quick start earned him the season's first Eastern Conference Player of the Week honor and put him on pace to shatter John Stockton's single-season assist record. Nagging injuries and a lineup without a consistent center caused those stats to come back to Earth as the season progressed and Rondo ultimately finished second behind Phoenix's Steve Nash in assists per game. The 25-year-old Rondo earned some serious stripes playing through the pain of a dislocated elbow -- and a balky back -- during the playoffs, on top of the injuries he endured through the season.

Season highlight: Good luck picking a single moment. Those 24 assists against New York were part of a triple-double that featured 10 points and 10 rebounds. But it wasn't a great shooting night for Rondo, who also turned the ball over seven times. How about 23 assists in another triple-double effort against San Antonio in early January? Rondo had 12 points on 6-of-10 shooting with 10 rebounds and only five turnovers in a battle of conference juggernauts. Or there was his lone playoff triple double: 15 points, 20 assists, and 11 rebounds in a 113-96 Game 3 win over the Knicks that doubled as an offensive clinic by Boston.

Season lowlight: Rondo's ability to be an impact player -- and Boston's championship aspirations -- were likely dashed when he dislocated his left elbow tumbling to the ground with Dwyane Wade in the third quarter of Game 3 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Heat. Rondo returned to the floor and not only played the entire fourth quarter of Boston's lone series win that night, but gutted out Games 4 and 5 with basically one arm. Combined with the back issues, Rondo wasn't nearly the force Boston needed him to be in order to get past Miami.

Final grade: B+

Teacher's notes: Believe me, we're sick of handing out all these B+'s. But like Big Four brethren Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, who earned the same mark, Rondo did a lot of things well, but little things dragged his grade down from 'A' level. For instance: Rondo's field goal percentage dipped from a career-high 50.8 percent in 2009-10 to 47.5 percent this year (his lowest since his rookie season). What's more, Rondo's free throws plummeted to a career-low 1.9 attempts per game (down 1.6 free throw attempts from the previous season). And his turnovers climbed to a career-high 3.4 per game while his scoring average dipped 3 points per contest. Some of this can surely be blamed on plantar fasciitis and the other maladies Rondo battled, forcing him to sit out 14 games this season. One silver lining: For all the belly-aching about Rondo's lack of a consistent mid-range jumper, he shot a solid 41 percent from 16-to-23 feet, according to HoopData, and took a career-high 3.3 attempts there per game (up one full shot from a year ago). Rondo's scoring struggles stemmed more form an inability to get to the rim (his attempts there were down from 5.4 per game in 2009-10 to 4.3 this season) and he generated less free throws because he attacked the basket less.

What's next?: With the first year of a five-year extension behind him, Rondo is still inked for four seasons at a steal of a rate (his contract topping out at $12.9 million during the 2014-15 season). He's the foundation upon which the next Celtics core will be built, as he, Pierce, and Avery Bradley are the only players currently signed beyond the 2011-12 season. A summer to recuperate should do wonders for Rondo, who was a warrior on the court and never leaned on injuries. Celtics coach Doc Rivers pointed out how, when both Rondo and Shaquille O'Neal were healthy, the Celtics were thriving and Rondo's stats were off the charts. It's no surprise that Boston struggled as both players limped to the finish line.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Rondo's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Kevin Garnett

May, 23, 2011
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesIt was a bounce-back year for a healthy Kevin Garnett.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 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: Kevin Garnett
2010-11 averages: 14.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.4 assists
2010-11 salary: $18.8 million

Season in a paragraph: Sixteen months removed from right knee surgery at the start of the 2010-11 season, the buzz around Garnett coming out of training camp was that he had regained his explosiveness. He didn't disappoint, looking spry until maybe the final games of the season (when Garnett's touch abandoned him as the Celtics leaned heavy on him against the Heat in an Eastern Conference semifinal series). Garnett saw his numbers jump back up towards pre-injury levels, shooting 52.8 percent from the floor overall (third best for his career) and a career-best 86.2 percent at the charity stripe (though his attempts there have dwindled as his offensive game moves further away from the basket). The best sign of all: Garnett's defensive rebounding returned to form, supporting the notion that health truly affected his play during the 2009-10 season.

Season highlight: With the Celtics staring at a 2-0 series deficit against the Heat, Garnett put Boston on his back in Game 3 and produced his finest playoff outing in a Celtics uniform. Not only did he connect on 13-of-20 shots for 28 points, but he snared 18 rebounds in a 97-81 triumph. (Honorable mention: Garnett put together 28 double-doubles, leading the Celtics in rebounding on 38 different occasions during the regular season).

Season lowlight: Just two days after that brilliant Game 3 performance against the Heat, Garnett produced maybe his worst playoff outing in a Boston uniform. Looking a bit gassed -- or simply off -- Garnett misfired on 9 of 10 shots and settled for seven points over 41 minutes. What's more, he failed to properly set a late-game screen that could have freed Paul Pierce for a potential winning shot at the end of regulation and the Celtics lost in overtime to fall behind the Heat, 3-1.

Final grade: B+

Teacher's notes: The stats suggest Garnett was insanely consistent from start to finish this season. Just look at his season splits, which are almost identical pre- and post-All-Star break (in fact, his shooting percentage only improved from the field and free throw line). Despite a slight drop in his defensive rebounding rate, which had hovered around a career high early in the season, Garnett still finished fourth overall in the league at 28.7 percent. What's more, Garnett finished second in the league behind only Dwight Howard in defensive rating (95). So why wasn't this an 'A' season? Call us a harsh grader because, like Paul Pierce's B+ season, we do think Garnett deserves consideration for the team's MVP this season. But we lean heavy on expectations and salary level. It's hard for the third highest paid player in the NBA -- only Kobe Bryant ($24.8 million) and Rashard Lewis ($20.5 million) made more this season -- to justify an 'A' grade. And let's face it, Garnett isn't nearly as impactful on the offensive end as he was during the 2008 season and struggled to shoulder the load against Miami.

What's next?: Garnett enters the final year of the three-year extension he inked upon being traded to Boston and will earn a staggering $21.2 million for his services. Even after turning 35 years old last week, Garnett remains the backbone of this Celtics' defense and remains a key to the team's overall success. Coach Doc Rivers admitted that he needs to find a way to better utilize Garnett, which should lead to shorter bursts of activity next season (and probably a slight decrease in minutes overall).

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Garnett's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Avery Bradley

May, 22, 2011
Mark L. Bae/US PresswireAvery Bradley showed progress in limited playing time this season.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the sixth in the series of report cards:

Player: Avery Bradley
2010-11 averages: 1.7 points, 0.6 rebounds, 0.4 assists
2010-11 salary: $1.4 million

Season in a paragraph: Bradley was slow out of the NBA gates after undergoing left ankle surgery shortly after he was tabbed by the Celtics with the 19th overall pick in last year's draft. He sat out nearly all of training camp and didn't make his NBA debut until Nov. 22 in Atlanta. By mid-January, Boston assigned him to the Maine Red Claws of the NBA D-League just to get him reps. Bradley appeared in nine games for Maine while averaging 17.1 points, 5.2 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 3 steals per game. It was a short stint as injuries forced Boston to recall him on Feb. 6. Overall, he appeared in 30 games for the Celtics, most in bite-sized, end-of-game chunks.

Season highlight: Bradley tied a D-League record with nine steals in a game, but his NBA highlight undoubtedly came in the regular-season finale against the New York Knicks. Bradley came off the bench to score 20 points on 10-of-16 shooting, while adding 3 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals over a season-high 27 minutes.

Season lowlight: The ankle injury made it a rough start to his NBA career as Bradley was limited to skeleton drills through camp and into the regular season. That set him back a bit and limited his opportunities, even after Delonte West fractured his wrist early in the year. Bradley admitted he was frustrated during the summer, this being the first major injury of his basketball career.

Final grade: Incomplete

Teacher's notes: We were going to assign a grade (likely in the B range because we feel Bradley met our expectations as a rookie and showed improvement by year's end, about all you can hope for in limited floor time), but it's hard to be fair considering the limited playing time. Yes, those 30 games are practically the same number of appearances as made by Shaquille O'Neal (37), but Bradley played 590 fewer minutes. The lack of action as a rookie isn't surprising as that's been a standard for young players in Boston during the Big Three era. Bradley showed nice potential with that final regular-season game (even if it was a junior varsity game for both sides) and the hope is that, while he might not be able to show his progress much on the court, he's taking advantage of all the reps and activity away from game situations.

What's next?: Bradley is one of only three players signed beyond next season (Rajon Rondo and Paul Pierce the others). He came with the tag of being an NBA-ready defender, but it's the offense that needs to continue to develop in order for him to get consistent minutes (and his point guard skills must improve for Boston to have confidence as him being behind Rondo on the depth chart). Bradley seems to have potential to fill that combo-guard role that West thrives in, and it wouldn't be a surprise to see his on-court activity jump up a bit in Year 2. Remember that Bradley is still just 20 years old and there's plenty of time to bring him along.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Bradley's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Late-season additions

May, 21, 2011
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Celtics rolled the dice adding Troy Murphy (30), Sasha Pavlovic (77), and Carlos Arroyo (45).
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the fifth in the series of report cards:

Season in a paragraph: Their bench underperforming for much of the season, the Celtics felt they needed to overhaul the back end in order to aid a late-season push. With a flurry of moves at the trade deadline, including trading injured Marquis Daniels to Sacramento for a future second-round draft pick and dealing Semih Erden and Luke Harangody to Cleveland for another future second-round pick, Boston freed up enough roster space to make three additions off the buyout scrapheap. First came Murphy after the Celtics won a tug-of-war with the Miami Heat, then Pavlovic followed for depth at the wing. With both Rajon Rondo and Delonte West battling through injuries, Arroyo was added soon after.

Season highlight: If Murphy got nothing else out of this experience it was shedding the title of most experienced active NBA player without a trip to the playoffs (alas, he played only three playoff minutes). He did have a 12-point, 7-rebound effort against Milwaukee in mid-March that offered some hope that he might return to the double-double player he once was, but his play never justified a consistent increase in minutes. Arroyo handed out six assists that same night, but only handed out 19 more over 14 other appearances in Boston. Pavlovic scored three points in his Boston debut and that was a season-high in Boston until he exploded for 19 points in the regular-season finale (hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers and making everyone wonder where that had been all along). His biggest impact came in the locker room where he was good friends with midseason acquisition, Nenad Krstic.

Season lowlight: By the postseason, it was clear this trio wasn't going to have an impact. The three rotated onto the inactive list and Murphy's three minutes of scoreless ball in Game 3 versus the Knicks was the only playoff basketball for the trio. Arroyo dressed for much of the Miami series and tried to aid by deciphering their playcalls from the sideline, but never saw court time. Pavlovic lost his confidence early on and never earned Rivers' trust again.

Final grade: F

Teacher's notes: The Celtics rolled the dice that veterans would aid this team more than rookies down the stretch. It didn't work and, if you want to criticize any trade in hindsight, maybe it's the Harangody/Erden deal instead of the Kendrick Perkins one everybody seems so fixated on. Erden helped the Celtics gut through the first half of the season with injuries to most of the team's centers, including Erden himself, who battled groin and shoulder issues (the shoulder injury likely needing surgery this offseason). Yes, Erden only made four appearances in Cleveland and Harangody (6.2 points, 4.2 rebounds with the Cavs) benefited from 19 minutes per game. But at least both of those players would have been around next season to further develop. What's more, Arroyo's addition came at the expense of center Chris Johnson, a deadline-day D-League 10-day pickup who had potential to develop. You can certainly understand Boston's logic in making these moves, but they simply didn't work out.

What's next?: All three players are unrestricted free agents and it's hard to imagine any of them coming back next season. Some team is likely to overpay Murphy for the potential that he can return to the player he was with more minutes, while Arroyo might be the only player Boston would have interest in for depth at the point guard spot.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on the 2010-11 seasons for Arroyo, Murphy, and Pavlovic? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Jeff Green

May, 20, 2011
AP Photo/Elise AmendolaMaybe we expected too much, because Jeff Green stayed consistent in Boston.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the fourth in the series of report cards:

Player: Jeff Green
2010-11 averages: 9.8 points, 3.3 rebounds (Boston); 13.3 points, 4.8 rebounds (overall)
2010-11 salary: $4.5 million

Season in a paragraph: The Celtics acquired Green at the trade deadline as the centerpiece of a deal with Oklahoma City that also netted Nenad Krstic and a future first-round draft pick in exchange for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson. Green showed flashes of brilliance -- particularly when the Celtics were able to get hm running in transition with Rajon Rondo -- but maybe expectations were simply too high as -- fair or not -- his 26 games in Boston left most with a general sense that the Celtics could have gotten more out of him.

Season highlight: With the Celtics resting their veterans late in the regular season, Green drew two starts in the final week. In one of those games in Washington on April 11, he logged a whopping 47 minutes in an overtime loss and chipped in 20 points, 15 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals. It's ammunition for the group that believes Green needs more minutes in order to thrive.

Season lowlight: Green didn't have one particularly disastrous game or moment, but in the first round of the postseason against the Knicks, with Boston's bench marred in a miserable slump, all the reserves were thrust a little further under the microscope. For the postseason as a whole, despite some solid defense against the likes of Carmelo Anthony and LeBron James, Green averaged a mere 7.3 points and 2.7 rebounds over 19.2 minutes per game.

Final grade: C+

Teacher's notes: Some have asked exactly how we grade in this series. A large part is judging the player's overall production on what was expected based on their role and salary level. In a way, it seems unfair to penalize Green for not doing more because, if you look at his numbers per 36 minutes this season, they are frighteningly similar to what he did in Oklahoma City (no really, hop HERE and check them out because they are nearly exact). But here's an undeniable fact: The Celtics were 7-1 overall in games Green played under 20 minutes in and he averaged a mere 6.1 points and 2.1 rebounds in those contests. Boston was 8-10 when he played 20 minutes or more, averaging 11.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game (though, take away that 15-rebound effort vs. Washington and that rebound number dips to 3.2 per game).

What's next?: Green is a restricted free agent, but it's hard to imagine Boston not retaining his services (and fending off any offer sheets). The Celtics truly believe he can be a key piece of this team in the future, but it seems clear that they've got to find a way to get the most out of him. Green, who will turn 25 this summer, shows flashes of superstar potential, but tends to blend into the scenery at times (see Game 2 vs. Miami, when he came in for an injured Paul Pierce and produced 10 quick points, then provided virtually no offense the rest of the game).

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Green's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Paul Pierce

May, 19, 2011
Steve Mitchell/US PresswirePaul Pierce put together a solid season for the Boston Celtics.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the third in the series of report cards:

Player: Paul Pierce
2010-11 averages: 18.9 points, 5.4 rebounds, 3.3 assists
2010-11 salary: $13.9 million

Season in a paragraph: A year after battling through a cocktail of injuries, Pierce was an ironman, appearing in a team-high 80 games this season (only sitting out the final two contests as Boston rested its veterans for the start of the postseason). What's more, Pierce shot a career-best 49.7 percent overall from the floor and his stat line saw modest boosts in most major categories. Pierce often elevated parts of his game to aid Boston whenever another star went down (most notably directing the offense at times when point guard Rajon Rondo was sidelined). About the only negative for Pierce: His 3-point shot wasn't nearly as consistent as a year ago, his percentage dipping from a career-best 41.4 percent last year to 37.4 percent (but he actually made nearly the exact same number of 3-pointers overall).

Season highlight: It's a wonder the Knicks haven't called about securing Pierce's services given way he played at Madison Square Garden this season. Not only did Pierce knock down game-winners in the first two trips there (once during exhibition play; one in a December thriller), but in Game 3 of an Eastern Conference quarterfinal series, Pierce poured in a season-high 38 points on 14-of-19 shooting with three rebounds and three steals. New York's starters combined for a mere 44 points that night and Pierce nearly matched their output on his own in Boston's best offensive effort of the postseason.

Season lowlight: Pierce labored through a fairly miserable Eastern Conference semifinal series against Miami. He got ejected during the fourth quarter of Game 1 after picking up two technical fouls in a 59-second span, then suffered an Achilles strain that limited him in Game 2. Pierce rebounded with back-to-back 27-point efforts, but Boston's failed execution prevented him from getting a good look at a potential winning shot at the end of regulation in Game 4 (the Celtics lost in overtime) and LeBron James dominated at the end of Game 5, Pierce unable to slow James as Boston's season came to an end.

Final grade: B+

Teacher's notes: His struggles against Miami might cause you to reflect less fondly on his overall body of work, but Pierce put together maybe his most efficient season in a Celtics uniform. Not only did he shoot nearly 50 percent from the floor -- no easy feat considering more than half of his shots come from beyond 16 feet -- but his offensive rating (Boston's points per 100 possessions) was a career-best 116 (a point higher than his previous high in the 2008 championship season). What's more, his defensive rating (100.5) was 13th best in the NBA and that helped Pierce finish with the highest win share (an estimated number of wins contributed by a single player) on the team at 11.6 (which placed him eighth overall in the league).

What's next?: Despite Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge's playful jab that Pierce could be destined for a backup role next season, it's clear how important Pierce is to this team. He'll turn 34 in the offseason and the Celtics will undoubtedly aim to trim his minutes after they climbed a bit this season, but the captain isn't bound for the bench. It's going to be a long offseason for Pierce after the rough Miami series, and he'll be left wondering if he could have had a bigger impact. But there's no reason to expect any drop off in production from Pierce next season.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Pierce's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report card: Shaquille O'Neal

May, 18, 2011
AP Photo/Michael DwyerUnfortunately for Shaquille O'Neal, this may be our lasting image of his time in Boston.
Over the next few weeks, we'll take a player-by-player look at the Celtics' 2010-11 roster and how each player's season unfolded, assigning a grade for their overall performance. This is the second in the series of report cards:

Player: Shaquille O'Neal
2010-11 averages: 9.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 20.3 minutes
2010-11 salary: $1.4 million

Season in a paragraph: The Celtics and Shaq, an unlikely union, enjoyed an extended honeymoon period as O'Neal not only dazzled on the court, earning the starting center job out of the gates, but off the court with his numerous community appearances (Shaqtue in Harvard Square, Shaq-a-Claus, Shaq and the Boston Pops). O'Neal performed so well over the first half of the season, it gave Boston the courage to deal away Kendrick Perkins at the trade deadline, but the Big Diesel never recovered from a right calf/Achilles injury that limited him to 17 minutes of total court time after Feb. 1.

Season highlight: The calendar said 2011, but Shaq played as if it was 2001. On Jan. 14, O'Neal connected on 10-of-12 attempts for a season-best 23 points over a season-high 35:13 as Boston edged the Charlotte Bobcats, 99-94. Shaq tried to make a break before the media caught him on his way out of the TD Garden and he humbly noted, "I've been in foul trouble and haven't really played a lot of minutes, so there was really no excuse for me to be tired. I just came out and got a few more touches tonight and just did what I did." Little did anyone know Shaq would play a mere 100 minutes after that night.

Season lowlight: After sitting out 27 straight games while trying to get his right calf/Achilles to heal, O'Neal returned on April 3 against the Detroit Pistons. He made all three shots he attempted over 5 minutes and looked like vintage Shaq, but hobbled off the court and into a wheelchair when pain soon returned. He would take another month off before making two postseason appearances against Miami, but logged a mere 12 minutes before the injury forced him back to the sideline where he watched Boston's season end earlier this month.

Final grade: B+

Teacher's notes: Should you penalize a player for injury? The natural instinct is to lower the grade considering O'Neal couldn't stay on the court for the final four months of the season. Alas, when he was on the court, the Celtics were spectacular. Coach Doc Rivers has told anyone that will listen how the Celtics were 19-3 when O'Neal played 21 minutes or more this season. The team truly believed he'd be healthy down the stretch and maybe put too much faith in a 39-year-old big man. As Rivers has also pointed out, it's no coincidence that Rajon Rondo was otherworldly at the start of the year when O'Neal was healthy. Shaq's own stat line doesn't suggest domination, but Boston's performance as a five-man unit, and the individual numbers of his floormates point to a Diesel-sized impact.

What's next?: It'd be unfortunate if this is how it ends for O'Neal, but if he simply can't get healthy enough to consistently stay on the court, his playing days might be over. Both Danny Ainge and Rivers have hinted that their initial impression is that he's done, but don't rule out what a summer of rest and rehab can do for O'Neal. If time allows him to heal, it would seem foolish to completely dismiss the idea of O'Neal giving it one more go -- particularly if a lockout shortens the NBA season next year. In the end, however, Father Time catches up with everybody, and he might have finally tackled this 7-foot-1, 335-pound behemoth this season.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on O'Neal's 2010-11 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.



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Jeff Green
16.8 1.7 0.7 34.2
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksK. Humphries 0.9