Boston Celtics: 2012ReportCard

Report Card: Danny Ainge

June, 30, 2012
6/30/12
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Rich Obrey/NBAE/Getty ImagesDanny Ainge put together a team that got to the Eastern Conference finals.
Over the three weeks leading up to start of the new league year on July 1, we took 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 18th and final report card in the series:

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What's your grade for Danny Ainge?

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Season in a paragraph: Coming out of the lockout, Ainge tried to make a big splash with a spirited charge at acquiring Chris Paul. When that failed, he turned his attention to beefing up Boston's core and endured mixed results. David West spurned Boston to sign with the Pacers, while a near-deal with free agent Reggie Evans fizzled and he signed with the Clippers. The Celtics added Chris Wilcox with their one big chip ($3 million taxpayer's mid-level exception), then worked a sign-and-trade that brought Brandon Bass to Boston in exchange for Glen Davis. Ainge filled out the bench with the low-priced likes of Keyon Dooling, Mickael Pietrus, Greg Stiemsma, Marquis Daniels, and Sasha Pavlovic. Ainge stood pat at the trade deadline (and was rewarded with a run to the cusp of the NBA Finals). Along the way, the team picked up big men Ryan Hollins and Sean Williams when injuries to Jermaine O'Neal and Wilcox depleted the roster.

Season highlight: Ainge's shrewdest move might have been flipping Davis to Orlando for Bass. For all of Davis' talents and chemistry with the Big Four, he was a constant headache with his mercurial behavior. Bass proved to be an offensive upgrade and was excellent once he settled into the team's help defense system. Bass kept his mouth shut, worked his way into the starting lineup, and was a key cog in Boston's second-half success. Honorable mention: Ainge resisting the urge to make a move at the trade deadline, keenly identifying that this core still had a playoff run in it.

Season lowlight: The preseason had to be a source of incredible frustration for Ainge and his staff. Working quick after the lockout lifted, the quest for CP3 came up short and relations with Rajon Rondo had to be repaired a bit. The team thought it had the likes of West and Evans, only to watch them sign with other teams. Combine it with the heart issue that ended Jeff Green's season and Boston didn't start the year on the right foot.

Final grade: B

Teacher's notes: Put in a tough spot with the lockout and all the injuries Boston endured, Ainge did a solid job putting together a competitive roster that was able to withstand all the adversity. Even after being rebuffed in his attempt to overhaul the core by adding Paul, Ainge audibled to Plan B and added enough around the veterans to make a run. His quietest moves deserve some of the biggest credit: Like flipping a Daniels trade exception to Milwaukee to land locker room leader Dooling, or plucking Stiemsma out of the D-League, and landing Pietrus off the waiver wire after Green went down.

What's next?: Ainge faces maybe his most daunting summer yet. He needs to decide whether to put the band back together for one more run with this core -- that all hinges on Kevin Garnett and his future -- or whether to blow things up a bit and start working towards the future. The Celtics have potential cap space if KG decides to hang it up, but the free-agent pool isn't as deep as once expected and Boston can't easily add an elite player (like Paul or Dwight Howard, who were supposed to be available this summer). Ainge must work his magic to keep this team competitive and start building towards the future.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Ainge's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Doc Rivers

June, 29, 2012
6/29/12
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Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesCeltics coach Doc Rivers got the most out of a team that faced incredible adversity.
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 17th in the series of report cards:

Coach: Doc Rivers
2011-12 salary: $7 million

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What's your grade for Doc Rivers?

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Season in a paragraph: Despite speculation that he'd spend a year away from coaching, Rivers inked a five-year, $35 million extension to return to Boston last summer and -- even as the highest paid hoops coach in the wake of Phil Jackson's retirement -- he earned every penny during an adversity-filled 2011-12 season. From failed moves in the preseason, to head-shaking injuries woes, to first-half struggles, and an improbable second-half charge with a depleted roster, Rivers made the most out of what he had and nearly willed this team back to the NBA Finals.

Season highlight: If Rivers is being honest, it was probably a random Wednesday night in February when he snuck down to Chapel Hill to watch his son, Austin, a freshman at Duke hit a monster game-winning 3-pointer as Duke topped North Carolina in a rivalry matchup (and watching Austin get drafted Thursday night was a bigger highlight than any of Boston's own draft haul). For the Celtics as a team, Rivers' finest moment might have come at the team's lowest moment. After absorbing a lopsided loss in Oklahoma City to finish the first half of the season two games under .500, Rivers informed his staff that changes would be made in the second half -- most notably moving Kevin Garnett to center and Brandon Bass into the starting lineup while tightening up the rotation. Boston started its climb from that moment.

Season lowlight: A sideline embrace with Kevin Garnett in the waning moments of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals in Miami -- signaling both the end of Boston's season and the start of an uncertain summer -- was one of the more somber moments of the year. For Rivers, things beyond his control probably were the hardest to endure, notably preseason moves that failed to go through (like Boston nearly flipping Jermaine O'Neal for David West or a deal for Reggie Evans falling through before he landed with the Clippers). Couple that with Jeff Green's season-ending heart ailment and the preseason couldn't have gone much worse for the Celtics.

Final grade: A

Teacher's notes: This team could have seemingly given up at so many different points, but Rivers always kept his eyes on the finish line. When everyone said his team was washed up at the start of the year, he tried to tell us all they were simply out of shape. When everyone tried to bury his team at midseason, he made the moves to give them a chance. When everyone said this team was destined for a second-round exit, Rivers kept pushing to see what would happen and nearly got this team to the championship stage. You can make the case that Boston gave Miami its stiffest challenge en route to a title, coming eight minutes away from a third trip to the NBA Finals in five seasons. This almost certainly was Rivers' finest coaching job on the Boston bench, squeezing every last drop out of this group (and maybe giving them the confidence to try it one more time next year with the potential for better health).

What's next?: Rivers said when he re-signed last summer that he was committed to whatever lied ahead, including a possible rebuilding phase. It looks like Boston's best option this summer is to put the band back together for one more charge, then decide how to reload. The Celtics are in good position with cap space at their disposal, but Boston's biggest selling point to free agents is clear: Rivers on the bench.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Rivers' 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Sean Williams

June, 28, 2012
6/28/12
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Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesSean Williams got some floor time during Boston's postseason run to the Eastern Conference finals.
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 16th in the series of report cards:

Player: Sean Williams  
2011-12 averages: 3.7 ppg, 4 rpg, 14 mpg with Boston (3.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 9.7 mpg overall)
2011-12 salary: $50,000 (pro-rated $885,000 veteran minimum)

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What's your grade for Sean Williams?

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Season in a paragraph: After splitting time between the Dallas Mavericks and their D-League affiliate (Texas Legends), Williams -- a Boston College product -- returned to the area by signing with Boston in the final week of the regular season. Eligible for the postseason, Williams spent much of it active and appeared in two games while getting to be part of a ride to the cusp of the NBA Finals.

Season highlight: Waived by the Mavericks on March 22, Williams was probably just happy to latch on with a team and earned himself a few nice paychecks. He appeared in three regular-season games for the Celtics, chipping in six points, seven rebounds, and a block over 19 minutes in the regular-season finale against the Milwaukee Bucks. That might have helped earn him an active spot in the postseason over rookie JaJuan Johnson.

Season lowlight: The former first-round pick (17th overall) of the New Jersey Nets spent the better part of the past two seasons in the D-League. The Mavericks gave him a chance early in the 2011-12 campaign and he responded by scoring 12 points in 11 minutes in the team's second game of the year. Alas, soon he was back in the D-League and simply couldn't stick whenever Dallas called him up for an opportunity.

Final grade: Incomplete.

Teacher's notes: Forty-eight minutes of court time with the Celtics simply isn't enough to offer a grade. For an extremely limited sample (three end-of-the-regular-season games) Williams put up nice numbers, particularly his defensive rebounding (21.4) and total rebound percentages (16.8) -- those sort of numbers would have ranked him in the top 25 of those categories if maintained for the season.

What's next?: It'll be interesting to see if the Celtics liked what they saw enough to bring Williams back. The team inked him to a fully non-guaranteed second-year at $915,000 and have until August 1 to decide if they want to pick that up. That allows Boston to do its offseason shopping and clear the contract if it finds an upgrade -- or hold on and give him another chance if they feel he's a better bench option after getting a taste of the system. It's easy to forget, but Williams is just 25 years old -- younger than C's rookie Greg Stiemsma -- and the 6-foot-10 forward now has four years of NBA experience under his belt.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Williams' 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Chris Wilcox

June, 27, 2012
6/27/12
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Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty ImagesChris 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

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What's your grade for Chris Wilcox?

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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.

Report Card: Greg Stiemsma

June, 26, 2012
6/26/12
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Chris Chambers/Getty ImagesCeltics rookie center Greg Stiemsma made a big impression in his first season with the team.
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 14th in the series of report cards:

Player: Greg Stiemsma  
2011-12 averages: 2.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 1.5 bpg, 13.9 mpg
2011-12 salary: $762,000

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What's your grade for Greg Stiemsma?

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Discuss (Total votes: 3,225)

Season in a paragraph: The former D-League standout (and world hoops traveler) got brought into training camp to audition for a depth role for size-craving Boston then impressed with his shot-blocking talents and finished his rookie campaign as the first big off the bench. A liability against the pick-and-roll early in the season, Stiemsma's defense steadily improved as he settled into Boston's system. Foul trouble -- warranted or not -- plagued him at times, but Stiemsma was important enough to land a vote from an NBA head coach for the All-Rookie team at season's end. That speaks volumes to his development over the course of a condensed season in which he wasn't afforded the typical practice time most rookies get -- all while playing through numerous maladies (including foot woes that left him in a walking boot much of the second half).

Season highlight: Stiemsma made a heck of a first impression, swatting six shots during his NBA debut on Dec. 28 in New Orleans (which led Tommy Heinsohn to make a memorable comparison to Bill Russell). His best overall effort came in April when he chipped in 10 points (on perfect 4-of-4 shooting), nine rebounds, five blocks, and a steal over 27 minutes in an 86-72 win over the Pacers. Early April saw some of Stiemsma's finest play before his injuries acted up a bit and his minutes reduced as Boston leaned on smaller lineups in the postseason.

Season lowlight: After a solid effort in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals (6 points and 4 rebounds over 12 minutes), an incredulous Stiemsma picked up four fouls in five minutes in Game 2, essentially preventing him from making any sort of true impact in a key game. It was a frustrating night for a player that had fared well against size-deprived Miami.

Final grade: B+

Teacher's notes: Stiemsma clearly exceeded expectations. He arrived as a raw player who leaned heavy on his shot-blocking to mask other defensive deficiencies and was deep on the depth chart behind the likes of Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox. But even before those in front of him went down with their own injuries, Stiemsma distinguished himself with his play and showed steady improvement. He's got a sneaky little offensive game and actually shot 72.7 percent on jumpers inside of 17 feet (and 51.2 percent on all catch-and-shoot situations overall, according to Synergy Sports data). He struggled in the post, but was solid as a cutter (or roll man) going at the hoop for easy dunks. Defensively, Stiemsma made incredible strides. By the end of the season, he ranked in the 93rd percentile among all NBA defenders, allowing a mere 0.711 points per play (that's downright, KG-like), according to Synergy. Opponents shot just 34.7 percent against him and he tightened up his early season pick-and-roll woes.

What's next?: The Celtics will almost certainly extend a $1.1 million qualifying offer before July 1, starting the process by which they hope to bring Stiemsma back next season. When that happens, he'll be a restricted free agent, offering Boston the ability to match any offer he receives. The question then will be whether any team is willing to spend big money to pry him away and how much Boston will be willing to pay to keep him around. The Celtics could also start thinking about a longer-term extension if they see Stiemsma as part of their future plans (and let's face it, defensive-minded young big men do not grow on trees).

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Stiemsma's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Rajon Rondo

June, 25, 2012
6/25/12
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Issac Baldizon/Getty ImagesThe Celtics have a bright future with point guard Rajon Rondo leading the way.
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 13th in the series of report cards:

Player: Rajon Rondo  
2011-12 averages: 11.9 ppg, 11.7 apg, 4.8 rpg, 36.9 mpg
2011-12 salary: $10 million

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What's your grade for Rajon Rondo?

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Discuss (Total votes: 7,176)

Season in a paragraph: A season that opened with Rondo in the center of trade speculation as Boston pursued Chris Paul, ended with Rondo being as close to the label of untouchable as possible. He was downright spectacular, particularly on the season's biggest stages, and was the gasoline that fueled the 2011-12 Celtics (only Kevin Garnett and his defense might have been more important overall, but clearly the torch has been passed and this is Rondo's team). There were injuries (Rondo missed eight games with a right wrist issue early in the season), outbursts (he was suspended a total of three games for incidents with officials), and indifference (Rondo and his "engagement" level were often critiqued when Boston struggled). Through it all, it's the otherworldly efforts -- and there were plenty of them -- that we'll remember most.

Season highlight: We have to pick just one!? There were 10 triple-doubles, including four in the postseason (the best of that bunch might have been a ridiculous 32-point, 15-assist, 10-rebound effort he posted against Chicago in mid-February). But his finest performance? That was probably a 44-point outburst in Game 2 against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals. Yes, the Celtics lost the game in overtime, but Rondo produced his finest shooting night as a pro, connecting on 16-of-24 shots overall while adding 10 assists, eight rebounds, and three steals during a wire-to-wire 53-minute outing. If the Celtics had won the game -- and the series -- we might reflect on that game as fondly as LeBron James' 45-point outburst in Game 6.

Season lowlight: The Celtics had lost four of their last five and were limping towards the finish line of the first half of the season when Rondo's emotions got the best of him in Detroit. Already laboring having missed 5-of-6 shots and committing six turnovers over 28 minutes as the Pistons hung close, Rondo got ejected for zipping the ball off a game official while protesting the lack of a foul call during a third-quarter drive to the basket. The Celtics lost the game (and two more to close out the first half at two games under .500) and Rondo got suspended for two games for his actions. All of which left pundits using the incident as an example of why Boston wanted to trade the mercurial guard. A second suspension for bumping an official in a Game 1 loss to the Atlanta Hawks to open the postseason didn't aid his cause, either.

Final grade: A

Teacher's notes: Rondo finished as the top distributor in the league, which included handing out double-digit assists in the final 24 games of the regular season (and 17 of Boston's 20 postseason tilts). Not only was his assist percentage a career high (52.5, a rather ridiculous number), but his turnover percentage came down as well. That didn't take away from his offensive output, which saw his scoring average jump up 1.3 points, most notably with his free-throw attempts spiking after a down year. The negatives? Despite a solid season with his mid-range jumper, Rondo's field goal percentage dipped overall (44.8 percent, worst since rookie season) and free throws continue to be a trouble spot (59.7 percent). Synergy Sports data hammer home his offensive woes: Rondo averaged a mere 0.742 points per play, ranking in the 17th percentile. The assist numbers mask his struggles to generate his own offense. Defensively, he allowed a mere 0.739 points per play (90th percentile), though dribble penetration was an issue at times and his steal numbers were down.

What's next?: The Celtics have Rondo under contract for three more seasons at reasonable numbers (his salary is $11 million next year; the third year of a five-year, $55 million extension). This has potential to be the first offseason in which his name won't pop up in trade rumors (though that attractive salary will always have teams interested in prying him free). Regardless of how an uncertain offseason plays out for Boston, Rondo is the foundation of the team moving forward.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Rondo's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Sasha Pavlovic

June, 24, 2012
6/24/12
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Barry Chin/Boston Globe/Getty ImagesSasha Pavlovic can't believe this referee called a foul on him.
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 12th in the series of report cards:

Player: Sasha Pavlovic  
2011-12 averages: 2.7 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 0.4 spg, 11.7 mpg
2011-12 salary: $1.2 million

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What's your grade for Sasha Pavlovic?

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Season in a paragraph: More than a few eyebrows shot skyward when the Celtics gave Pavlovic a fully guaranteed one-year deal to add some depth at the swingman spot (this on the heels of news that Jeff Green would miss the season due to a heart ailment). Pavlovic didn't exactly inspire confidence with his cameo late in the 2010-11 season, but he was a steady defender who kept himself ready for spot situations. Ironically, Pavlovic opened the year in the starting lineup while Paul Pierce nursed a heel injury. His time was sporadic for the next three months, but he appeared in Boston's last 21 regular-season games and got occasional playoff minutes.

Season highlight: Once Pierce returned to the lineup for the fourth game of the year, Pavlovic's minutes dried up. In fact, he earned a DNP in eight of the team's next 11 games (playing a mere 13 minutes in that span) before a surprise spot start against Orlando in late January. All Pavlovic did was respond with nine points on 4-of-9 shooting with four rebounds, two blocks and two steals over 34 minutes. It highlighted Pavlovic's biggest value: Being ready when injuries cropped up. For Boston, that's a very Scalabrine-like talent to have and can keep you on a roster.

Season lowlight: Maybe the only disappointment for Pavlovic is that he never got a chance to impact the postseason. After some solid minutes at the start of the Atlanta series as Ray Allen was sidelined with ankle woes, Pavlovic played just 20 minutes over the final 18 playoff games. Clearly, with Allen back the Celtics preferred to lean on Pierce and Mickael Pietrus at the swingman spot and Pavlovic never got a chance to bring his defensive intensity to the final two rounds.

Final grade: C+

Teacher's notes: Scoff if you will at a decent mark -- and many of you will -- Pavlovic did his job, which is the No. 1 talent a Boston bench player can have. Yes, his offense was atrocious. He shot a mere 39.1 percent from the floor and 29.3 percent beyond the 3-point arc. According to Synergy Sports data, he averaged a mere 0.795 points per play, ranking in just the 26th percentile (terrible for someone that leans heavy on the 3-point shot). Heck, Pavlovic shot a mere 28.9 percent on all jump shots this season (26 of 90). But let's face it, no one expected Jamal Crawford-type offense from Pavlovic (just a little bit more consistency in terms of offering something on offense). Defensively, despite drawing plenty of tough matchups at his position, Pavlovic allowed a mere 0.765 points per play, ranking in the 84th percentile overall (better numbers than Pierce and Pietrus produced at the same position). Pavlovic at least forced his opponents into the same offensive struggles that he endured. All of which made him a serviceable end-of-the-bench player, one that kept to himself and didn't rock the boat in a veteran locker room. Again, there's something to be said for bench guys that can simply do their role, and while he struggled offensively, Pavlovic knows it is his defense that keeps him employed.

What's next?: Pavlovic is an unrestricted free agent. He's had six stops in a nine-year career and could be looking at another new jersey next season if Boston is able to restock its swingman depth. If Pavlovic could ever maintain the confidence in his offensive game, he'd be a rotation player on a good team. He's worth a minimum contract for a team that needs a defensive presence off the bench and increased floor time could allow revive his offense to the level of his first few seasons in Cleveland.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Pavlovic's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Cards: Johnson, Moore

June, 23, 2012
6/23/12
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AP Photo/Josh ReynoldsCeltics rookies JaJuan Johnson and E'Twaun Moore with Danny Ainge at last summer's introduction.
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 11th in the series of report cards:

Players: JaJuan Johnson, E'Twaun Moore  
2011-12 averages: JJ: 3.2 ppg, 1.6 rpg, 8.3 mpg; EM: 2.9 ppg, 0.9 apg, 8.7 mpg
2011-12 salary: JJ: $1 million; EM: $474,000

SportsNation

What's your grade for E'Twaun Moore?

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Discuss (Total votes: 3,620)

Seasons in a paragraph: Ahhh, the life of a Boston rookie. A taste of the glitz, but not a lot of glamour. The two Purdue products each saw about 300 minutes of regular-season floor time, but often settled for bite-sized chunks at the end of lopsided games. Most of their work came behind the scenes where the Celtics' support staff were working their bodies and games into NBA shape. We saw encouraging bursts from each player -- Johnson's freakish athleticism and Moore's unflappable confidence -- but we'll likely get a better look at their development next month at summer league.

Season highlight: For Johnson, it didn't get any better than a 33-minute run in a 95-91 triumph over the Bulls in mid-February. Johnson connected on 6-of-13 shots for a season-high 12 points (including some highlight-worthy dunks) to go along with four rebounds, two steals and a block. Johnson got some quality burn through February before the rotation tightened up after the All-Star break. When Boston rallied from a 27-point deficit in Orlando in late January, it was Moore who provided a surprising spark in his finest outing of the season. Moore connected on 5-of-6 shots, including all four 3-pointers he hoisted, while scoring 16 points in 18 minutes. Moore's effort earned him some extra time while Keyon Dooling was sidelined due to injury, but he was likewise thin on minutes after the first half of the season.

Season lowlight: Two nights before his outburst against the Bulls, Johnson got a public tongue-lashing from an irate Doc Rivers when he failed to execute an offensive set during a head-shaking loss in Toronto. Johnson bounced back well, but clearly the Celtics wanted him in the playbook more. He spent the playoffs inactive, the team instead going with veteran late-season addition Sean Williams in an active role. Moore didn't have a particularly egregious lowlight. His worst game was a particularly harmless late-January loss to visiting Phoenix in which he missed 5-of-6 shots while chipping in a mere two points to go along with three turnovers.

SportsNation

What's your grade for JaJuan Johnson?

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Discuss (Total votes: 3,535)

Final grades: Incomplete.

Teacher's notes: There simply wasn't enough floor time to properly grade the players (though we encourage you to do so in the polls). Like most rookies, there were encouraging glimpses, but the usual stumbles. Rivers often gushed about the duo's work ethic and their easygoing demeanor helped them blend harmlessly into a veteran locker room. We all know how hard it is for true rookies to make an impact in Rivers' system during the Big Three era, so the true test comes next season when roster changes could open more doors.

What's next?: Both Johnson and Moore can expect starring roles as part of Boston's 10-game summer schedule in Orlando and Las Vegas. It's a chance to showcase where they are at against NBA-caliber competition. The work won't stop there, though, as Johnson and Moore need to use the remainder of the offseason to put themselves in position to compete for jobs when camp opens. Johnson's spot is a bit more secure than Moore (who has a non-guaranteed second-year option), but all indications are both will be around with a chance to earn bigger roles.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Johnson and Moore's 2011-12 seasons? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Mickael Pietrus

June, 22, 2012
6/22/12
10:00
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David Dow/NBAE/Getty ImagesMickael Pietrus gushed about his time spent in Boston and his desire to win a title here.
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 10th in the series of report cards:

Player: Mickael Pietrus  
2011-12 averages: 6.9 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 0.6 apg, 21.9 mpg
2011-12 salary: $1.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Mickael Pietrus?

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Season in a paragraph: Signed by Boston at the veteran's minimum on Christmas Eve after a less-than-amicable parting with the Phoenix Suns, Pietrus battled through right knee woes throughout the season as well as a scary fall in Philadelphia in late March that left him with a severe concussion. Pietrus shot a career-worst 38.5 percent from the floor and a mere 33.5 percent beyond the 3-point arc, but still proved to be one of Boston's top reserves, particularly with his inspired defense. Through all his personal adversity, Pietrus provided a loose and upbeat personality in the Celtics' locker room, yet also had an insatiable desire to help the team win another world title that endeared him to his veteran teammates.

Season highlight: Despite making just one of his first nine shots over the first four games of the Eastern Conference finals, Pietrus chipped in 13 points (on 5-of-8 shooting, hitting a pair of 3-pointers), three rebounds, and two steals over 27 inspired minutes in Boston's Game 5 triumph in Miami. The effort landed Pietrus at the postgame podium, where he revealed some texts from former Celtics center Shaquille O'Neal helped inspire the big-game performance.

Season lowlight: On the final stop of a season-long, eight-game road trip on March 23 in Philadelphia, Pietrus got tangled with Lou Williams going strong at the basket in the second quarter and landed hard on his back, whip-lashing as he crashed to the court. Pietrus needed on-court attention from trainers and doctors before being stretchered out of the building in a scary scene. Amazingly, Pietrus suffered only a concussion and didn't even spend the night at the hospital. He did sit out the next 10 games while battling post-concussion syndromes before returning in mid-April, only to participate in the lone back-to-back-to-back of the season, and needed four more games off later in the month to let his sore right knee calm.

Final grade: B

Teacher's notes: Much like Paul Pierce with the sprained MCL in the playoffs, Pietrus labored offensively for much of the season because of his right knee (one that required surgery again after the season). Then when he finally started attacking the hoop to generate easier offense, Pietrus endured the concussion that left him somewhat skittish to go at the rim upon his return. Through it all, Pietrus' defense allowed him to battle the offensive lulls and kept him a key cog off the Boston bench, able to match up with the opposing team's best scorer when Pierce was off the floor. What's more, Pietrus utilized his size to add a decent presence on the glass, posting his best defensive rebounding percentage (13.7) since 2008. Defensively, Pietrus allowed 0.796 points per play, finishing in the 75th percentile among all NBA players (excellent for his position), according to Synergy Sports data. Opponents shot a mere 36.4 percent against him (by comparison, Pierce graded out nearly identical, allowing 0.80 points per play, the 74th percentile, as opponents shot 35.5 percent against him)

What's next?: Pietrus is an unrestricted free agent, but expressed a strong desire to return to Boston and aid another championship run. He was clearly enthralled by the history here and wants to etch his name as a part of it. The question is whether the Celtics can afford to bring him back. Pietrus almost certainly will command more than the minimum this offseason, but he might take a small discount if Boston brings back its core for another run. The biggest thing for Pietrus at the moment: Rehabbing from arthroscopic surgery on that right knee and getting himself ready for training camp.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Pietrus' 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Jermaine O'Neal

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
10:00
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Elsa/Getty ImagesJermaine O'Neal ices his chest -- one of numerous injuries he endured during his time with 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 ninth in the series of report cards:

Player: Jermaine O'Neal  
2011-12 averages: 5 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.7 bpg, 22.8 mpg
2011-12 salary: $6.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Jermaine O'Neal?

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Season in a paragraph: The Celtics nearly found a way to deal O'Neal for David West in the preseason, only to watch West instead sign with the Indiana Pacers. O'Neal brushed off the rumors and was promptly anointed the "training camp MVP" by a smitten coach Doc Rivers. The honeymoon-after-the-near-divorce didn't last long as O'Neal made it just five games before a sore hamstring forced him to sit out his first game of the season (not a good sign for a player that had set a goal to play upwards of 90 percent of Boston's total games). O'Neal showed encouraging signs early in the campaign, taking charges in bulk and showcasing that familiar shot-blocking abilities. Alas, his body failed him again. His shoulder, knee, and chest would all act up before O'Neal aggravated a left wrist ailment taking a charge in Dallas before the All-Star break and that injury ultimately ended his season.

Season highlight: Oh sure, it might have been the return of a more beloved center (Kendrick Perkins), but O'Neal went off for 12 points and 11 rebounds in a mid-January loss to the visiting Oklahoma City Thunder. O'Neal did his damage, which included two steals and a block, over a mere 24 minutes. It was his only double-double of the season and only one of two in a Boston uniform (the other being a meaningless late-season game against Washington in April 2011).

Season lowlight: O'Neal aggravated a preexisting wrist injury -- one he elected to skip surgery on in the lockout-extended offseason last summer -- on Feb. 20 in Dallas, but it would be a full month before the team announced he would undergo season-ending surgery (and another month until he was outright released so the team could ink Sean Williams before the postseason). Right before the decision was made to pursue surgery, Rivers -- seemingly exasperated at the daily inquiries surrounding O'Neal's injury woes, particularly for a player that wasn't traveling with the team as he underwent physical therapy in hopes of playing again -- essentially said the team was moving on with the players that were available coming off the trade deadline. In a season in which the Celtics battled insane amounts of adversity, no one exactly stopped to lament the loss of O'Neal in late March.

Final grade: F+

Teacher's notes: We initially toyed with the idea of going with an incomplete. But, no, this was complete -- complete disaster. The Celtics gave up $12 million (two years at the full mid-level exception) for O'Neal to appear in 58 total games (less than a third of the total 177 games -- playoff and regular season -- that Boston played over the past two seasons). O'Neal showed glimpses of being able to help size-deprived Boston early in the 2011-12 campaign (hence the '+' in his grade; yes, we're a sucker for charge-takers), but his stats were still an eyesore. Consider this: O'Neal shot a mere 17.6 percent in post-up situations (3 for 17), ranking in the 2nd percentile, according to Synergy Sports data (this for a player that's 7-foot-1!). He pleaded with reporters to ignore the offensive stats and suggested that he deserved NBA All-Defensive consideration if he maintained his level of early season defensive play. Trouble there was -- masked by the charges and blocked shots -- was a player that owned a 103 defensive rating despite playing with Boston's defensive-minded starting 5 and allowed 0.85 points per play overall, ranking in the 49th percentile, according to Synergy Sports. Yes, O'Neal was solid as a post defender, but he was a liability against the pick-and-roll with his lack of mobility. What's more, his total rebound percentage was a mere 11.8 percent, down more than three percent from the previous season on a team desperate for rebounding.

What's next?: According to O'Neal's Twitter feed, he trekked to Germany recently to undergo the blood-spinning procedure that helped Kobe Bryant's arthritic knee. O'Neal suggested that procedure is the first step in working his way back to an NBA roster next fall. In a league desperate for size, he might just get another shot. Alas, it almost certainly won't come in Boston.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on O'Neal's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Paul Pierce

June, 20, 2012
6/20/12
10:00
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesPaul Pierce battled injuries at the start and finish of the 2011-12 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 eighth in the series of report cards:

Player: Paul Pierce  
2011-12 averages: 19.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 4.5 apg, 34 mpg
2011-12 salary: $15.3 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Paul Pierce?

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Season in a paragraph: Slowed out of the gates by a heel injury, then hindered by a sprained MCL in the postseason, Pierce epitomized the "grind" mantra of the 2011-12 season. He never quite got his jump shot right and, a season after shooting a career-best 49.7 percent from the floor, that number plummeted to 44.3 percent (below his career average). Pierce shot a mere 36.6 percent from beyond the 3-point arc, yet his scoring average actually jumped up a half point from last season. He facilitated even more offense by averaging 4.5 assists per game, his highest mark since the first year of the Big Three era (though his turnover averaged ticked up as well).

Season highlight: Before spraining his left MCL during a Game 4 walkthrough in the opening round against the Atlanta Hawks, Pierce produced a vintage playoff effort by posting 36 points and 14 rebounds in a Game 2 triumph. Playing without Rajon Rondo (ejected from Game 1), Pierce put together 44 quality minutes (despite eight turnovers) and secured a key win that prevented Boston front staring at an 0-2 hole. Ironically, Pierce's best shooting effort of the entire postseason came in Game 4 -- a game that Doc Rivers was uncertain Pierce would even dress for given the knee injury he suffered at the morning shootaround -- as he posted 24 points on 10-of-13 shooting over a mere 17 minutes to fuel a lopsided thrashing that gave Boston a 3-1 series edge. (Honorable mention: Pierce had a solid giving-the-game-what-it-needs stretch, upping his assist totals and keeping Boston afloat when Rajon Rondo was sidelined early in the season).

Season lowlight: Fresh off hitting a monster 3-pointer over LeBron James to seal a Game 5 road triumph in the Eastern Conference finals, giving Boston a 3-2 series edge and pushing the Celtics within a win of the NBA Finals, Pierce labored through 4-of-18 shooting while scoring only nine points in a Game 6 loss that featured counterpart James going off for 45 points in Boston as the Heat stole the momentum -- and maybe the series.

Final grade: B+

Teacher's notes: Pierce might have quietly been the MVP of the 2010-11 team and -- besides the shooting woes -- he was very much the same player during the 2011-12 campaign. Heck, the fact that he actually upped his scoring average as his jumper failed him might have made his season even more impressive. What's more, his assist percentage (24.3) was the second highest of his career (second only to 25.1 percent in 2003-04). For someone who had to match up against the opposing team's best scorer on a nightly basis, Pierce matched the best defensive rating of his career (99) and Synergy Sports numbers were solid for his position as well (0.8 points per play; 74th percentile overall). The number that stands out: Pierce shot a mere 36.3 percent on jumpers beyond 17 feet, according to Synergy. You can't help but wonder if that jumper will bounce back with better health next season, but it's clear that Pierce hasn't really lost a step at age 34 and can morph his game to compensate for whatever he encounters.

What's next?: Pierce still has two years and $32 million remaining on a four-year extension he signed during the 2010 offseason. The subject of occasional trade rumors this past season, there's always the chance that the Celtics could explore moving him if the core does not return (there's also the option to amnesty Pierce's contract). Alas, it's often hard to imagine that sort of messy end to his Boston career, particularly given the fact that he's still such a reliable contributor (even if minor injuries worked against him this season). Boston's captain will almost certainly be a key cog if the Celtics are to make another run at that elusive second title next season. If they don't keep the band together, his future role is a bit more murky.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Pierce's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Ryan Hollins

June, 19, 2012
6/19/12
10:00
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AP Photo/Nam Y. HuhRyan 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)

SportsNation

What's your grade for Ryan Hollins?

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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.

Report Card: Kevin Garnett

June, 18, 2012
6/18/12
10:00
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesWill Kevin Garnett's name be on the back of a Celtics warm-up jersey next 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 sixth in the series of report cards:

Player: Kevin Garnett  
2011-12 averages: 15.8 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 1 bpg, 31.1 mpg
2011-12 salary: $21.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Kevin Garnett

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Season in a paragraph: Slow out of the gates, leading some to wonder if he had anything left in the tank, Garnett put the Celtics on his shoulders as part of a second-half rejuvenation, which culminated with him being the most important player on the court during Boston's run to the doorstep of the NBA Finals. Garnett's defensive domination was no surprise, but it was an offensive uptick after shuffling to the center position following the All-Star break that made Garnett's play impossible to ignore. Despite turning 36 during the playoffs, Garnett played like he was 26 for much of the latter part of the season.

Season highlight: During the off day between Games 5 and 6 of an Eastern Conference first-round series, Hawks owner Michael Gearon Jr. (rather foolishly) made comments at a community event in Atlanta about how Garnett was the "dirtiest guy in the league." Garnett responded by posting 28 points (on 10-of-19 shooting) with 14 rebounds, five blocks, and three steals in an 83-80 series-clinching triumph in Boston. Afterwards, Garnett thanked Gearon for "some extra gas." Two nights later in Game 1 of an Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Philadelphia 76ers, Garnett still had extra fuel, going off for a postseason-high 29 points in a 92-91 victory.

Season lowlight: You could make the case for Garnett as postseason MVP, particularly given Boston's head-shaking plus/minus numbers when he was on (and, more importantly, off) the floor. But despite putting up 26 points and 11 rebounds in Boston's Game 5 triumph over the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference finals, Garnett went quiet in Games 6 and 7, averaging 13 points and 6 rebounds during the two losses and being outplayed at times by counterpart Chris Bosh (who returned from an abdominal injury to give the Heat a boost out of a 3-2 hole). Garnett bolted out of AmericanAirlines Arena after Game 7 (earning a $25,000 fine from the league for skipping media duties), leaving a cloud of uncertainty over his basketball future.

Final grade: A+

Teacher's notes: Meet your 2011-12 valedictorian. Sure, Garnett wasn't ready for the start of the season and there were times in the early going where you couldn't help but wonder if he was toast. But in the second half, he had rolled back the clock and was downright dominant. Garnett found constant motivation in detractors and, maybe knowing this could be his final season, he pretty much willed the Celtics to the cusp of a third NBA Finals in five seasons. The stats won't surprise you: Garnett allowed a mere 0.694 points per play, ranking in the 94th percentile among all NBA players, according to Synergy Sports data (put another way, only three other players with at least 250 plays graded out as a better one-on-one defender this season, one of which was Brandon Bass). Offensively, Garnett thrived in the post (if only the Celtics could have gotten him to go there more often), averaging 0.977 points per play overall (83rd percentile).

What's next?: Despite standing to be one of the top free agents on the open market, Garnett is pondering retirement. If he does come back, all indications are it would be with Boston given his loyalty to the organization and coach Doc Rivers. Boston's entire offseason hinges on Garnett. If he does return, the question is how much money he will be looking for as his play this season put him in line for a solid late-career payday.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Garnett's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Keyon Dooling

June, 17, 2012
6/17/12
10:00
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David Butler II/US PresswireLate in the season, Keyon Dooling provided this sort of boundless energy on the floor for Boston.
Over the three weeks leading up to the 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 fifth in the series of report cards:

Player: Keyon Dooling  
2011-12 averages: 4 ppg, 1.1 apg, 0.8 rpg, 14.4 mpg
2011-12 salary: $2.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Keyon Dooling?

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Season in a paragraph: Dooling was brought in to be a stabler version of Delonte West. Ironically, he battled hip and knee issues for much of the first half of the season, preventing him from making much of an impact until after the All-Star break. Dooling eventually settled into his role, which might have been equal parts on the court (combo guard who provided a boost when his 3-point shot was falling) and off (veteran leader who was not afraid to speak up in the locker room). Dooling put together a nice postseason, ramping up his defensive intensity and providing a consistent outside shot (save for a few games late in the 76ers series). Once Dooling carved out his role, he thrived.

Season highlight: After the 76ers dominated the first half of a pivotal Game 5 in Boston, "Reverend" Dooling (as Brandon Bass has dubbed him) sounded off in the locker room at halftime, not afraid to call out the Celtics' starting unit for lackluster play in a must-win game. The Celtics responded with a dominant second half en route to a 101-85 triumph. Dooling didn't offer much on the floor (0 points, 4 fouls, 2 assists over 9:25), but his locker room leadership was highlighted by his pep talk and proved that his contributions can't quite be measured in standard metrics.

Season lowlight: Dooling missed 16 of 17 games due to hip and knee issues starting in mid-January. After sitting out seven straight games, Dooling returned on Jan. 26 in Orlando, only to re-injure himself and miss the next nine games. It wasn't until late March that things really started to click for Dooling on the court.

Final grade: C+

Teacher's notes: Judging solely by his on-court production, Dooling probably had a D season. He averaged a career low in scoring (three points below his career average), shot below his career averages at all three major spots (40.5 FG%, 33.3 3PT%, 74.2 FT%), and his assists disappeared as he struggled to run the offense. What's more, his regular-season defense was mediocre at best. Then in the postseason, Dooling looked like a different player. He was more confident in his shot and showed a lot more intensity on defense. That, coupled with his leadership, helped boost his season grade.

What's next?: After playing for six teams in 12 seasons, Dooling might crave a little stability and said he would be interested in a Boston return. If the core is kept together, he might be a low-cost depth option and his value to the locker room is evident. (We'd be remiss if we didn't mention that Dooling was a locker room favorite of the media as well, patiently willing to tackle our questions and giving thoughtful responses. Readers got better insight on this team because Dooling was so accommodating to us.)

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Dooling's 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Report Card: Marquis Daniels

June, 16, 2012
6/16/12
10:00
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesIt's gotta be the (neon) shoes: Marquis Daniels skies for a slam this season.
Over the three weeks leading up to the 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 fourth in the series of report cards:

Player: Marquis Daniels  
2011-12 averages: 3.2 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 1.2 apg, 12.7 mpg
2011-12 salary: $1.2 million

SportsNation

What's your grade for Marquis Daniels?

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Season in a paragraph: After his 2010-11 season ended with a frightening spine injury, Daniels underwent surgery and made a rather remarkable return to action this season. Alas, Daniels never really found his old form and, unable to consistently win the confidence of coach Doc Rivers, a common thread in three seasons in Boston, he played only a minor on-court role. It should be noted, however, that Daniels quietly remained a solid teammate, joining forces with Keyon Dooling and "Flexin" his way through the playoffs.

Season highlight: Rivers played a hunch in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Miami Heat, giving Daniels 17 minutes of floor time in a must-win situation, and he responded with nine points (on 4-of-6 shooting) and five rebounds (then landed at the postgame podium to explain a big night that aided a 101-91 triumph). If Daniels could consistently provide that sort of spark, he'd be a rotation player on any team in the league given his size and defensive abilities.

Season lowlight: Daniels dealt with sporadic floor time, logging a whopping 28 DNPs while appearing in only 38 regular-season games. A span from early February into March might have been the hardest to endure, as he sat out 11 of 16 games (and logged a mere 29 minutes in those other five games). Daniels struggled to finish around the basket at times this season and confidence, again, seemed to be the issue (in his own play, and that of Rivers in him).

Final grade: D+

Teacher's notes: In a way, we feel like we're being harsh given that Daniels was coming off a pretty scary injury and expectations were probably low to begin with. Offensively, Daniels was hard to watch. According to Synergy Sports data, he scored 121 points on 180 possessions (0.672 points per play, shooting just 36.2 percent), which ranked him in the ninth percentile among all NBA players. Defensively, he wasn't quite the lockdown defender he had been during the 2010-11 season, but he was solid, allowing a mere 0.775 points per play (81st percentile, according to Synergy). Here's the thing: When Daniels played well, it left you yearning for more, and wondering why he couldn't consistently do that. But he never gave Rivers a reason to give him consistent time and that's reflected in his grade.

What's next?: After three one-year deals (and three different jersey numbers), this is probably the end of the Marquis Daniels era in Boston, particularly if the team brings back Mickael Pietrus, another defensive-minded wing. Daniels has value and could thrive in the right situation. It just doesn't seem like it can consistently happen in Boston. His defense can help a team and he still has occasional bursts of offense triggered when he's an active cutter.

Honor roll: Click HERE to read past report cards.

Don't agree with teacher? Just want to sound off on Daniels' 2011-12 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9