Boston Celtics: OverUnder2012
September, 13, 2012
Mike Ehrmann/Getty ImagesThe Celtics get leadership -- and intensity -- from veteran guard Keyon Dooling.Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: guard Keyon Dooling, who inked a veteran-minimum deal this offseason to return to the Celtics.
Minutes per game: 12
* Forsberg: Under. Dooling averaged 14.4 minutes per game in 46 regular-season appearances last year, but the Celtics restocked the guard position this offseason with the additions of Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. That'll make it a little tougher for him to find consistent minutes, so it will be on Dooling to define his role this time around -- whether it's as a pure ball-handler adding depth behind Rajon Rondo, or deep depth at the 2 with an ability to consistently knock down 3-pointers (like he did in the playoffs last year on short minutes).
* Payne: Under. Dooling will benefit from Avery Bradley likely starting the season out on the shelf as he rehabs from shoulder surgery. But once Bradley returns to the lineup, Dooling will revert to an insurance role. The C's will already have a logjam at the shooting guard spot between Bradley, Terry, and Lee. Lee will likely start at the beginning of the year, while Terry and Bradley will alternate between the backup point guard and shooting guard spots. Dooling will still have a voice on the team, but his time on the court will be minimal.
Points per game: 3.5
* Forsberg: Under. Smaller doses of playing time, coupled with the fact that Terry and Jeff Green are likely to drive the bench scoring will limit Dooling's opportunities to fill up the point column. He'll knock down the occasional clutch 3-pointer, but his value won't be judged in the least by his offensive output.
* Payne: Under. I'm choosing the under due to a lack of minutes, as Dooling has proven in the past he can hit timely shots and score in bunches when given the chance. That just won't be his role for this season's team.
* Forsberg: Over. Way over. Let's face it, every team needs a guy like Dooling. He's a consumate professional who will be ready whenever his number is called. But his biggest contribution will come in the role of -- as Brandon Bass so appropriately dubbed him last season -- the "Reverend." You can't put a price tag on Dooling's ability to mentor younger guards like Rondo and Bradley, whose ears he immediately attracted upon arriving in Boston last season. Couple that with Dooling's ability to tell the other veterans on the team when they aren't pulling their weight and you have a locker room leader whose value clearly exceeds a veteran-minimum salary. Dooling also served as a bit of team spokesman for the Celtics at times last year and, selfishly, reporters will be thrilled to have him back to offer his perspective on the team's season.
* Payne: Is there the equivalent of a salary cap for the number of upbeat veterans one team can have in its locker room? As if Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Terry weren't enough, Dooling adds that extra kick. Terry and Dooling are bound to hit it off and I'm firmly convinced they'll deserve their own radio show mere weeks into the season, with the draw being their charismatic and upbeat personalities. Dooling's so clutch to have around for the likes of Bradley, Lee, Dionte Christmas, and even Rondo -- and not just for on-the-court matters. If those guys want to grow into class-act professionals, there's no better role model than Dooling.
September, 12, 2012
Issac Baldizon/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhat are the expectations for a healthy Jeff Green?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: Jeff Green, who inked a four-year, $36 million contract with the Celtics after sitting out the 2011-12 campaign due to an aortic aneurysm.
Minutes per game: 30
* Forsberg: Over. Green averaged only 23.5 minutes per game during his abbreviated season with Boston in 2010-11 and owns a 33.6 career average (which is aided by having started 83.5 percent of his total appearances). The Celtics didn't shell out an average of $9 million per season to keep Green glued to the bench. He'll be Paul Pierce's primary backup and will get shuffled to the power forward spot in smaller lineups. More floor time should allow his natural abilities to take over instead of pressing as he often seemed to do in his first go-around with the Celtics.
* Payne: Under. Green will spend the majority of his time backing up Pierce at the small forward spot, but will also pick up some minutes playing power forward in certain lineups when Doc Rivers wants to go small. If Jared Sullinger doesn't play as much as I think he might, Green will see an uptake in minutes, but because I believe Sullinger will get minutes behind Brandon Bass, I'll say Green's minute total won't be as high as it might have been otherwise.
Points per game: 12
* Forsberg: Over. Green's career per-36-minute numbers suggest he averages about 12.4 points per game for a 30-minute stint. It would seem that Boston's second unit will lean heavy on Green and Jason Terry to shoulder the offensive load when the starters are off the floor. A 12-point benchmark seems obtainable and, combined with Terry's Sixth Man potential, would give Boston a 1-2 reserve punch it's never quite had in the Kevin Garnett era.
* Payne: Under. This one could easily go either way, but because I picked the over for Jason Terry in this category last week, I'll go with the under for Green. It'll be interesting to see how Green gets his points. Hopefully he attacks the rim more frequently than he fires off jump shots. Will he create for himself or rely more on a team-based attack to get his points? It's an important question, as Green wasn't able to establish himself as a legitimate scorer when he was first traded to Boston (granted, his new situation wasn't the easiest to adjust to). For now, I'll take the under in terms of points, and Celtics fans can hope I'm wrong.
Rebounds per game: 4.8
* Forsberg: Under. The Celtics absolutely need Green to be more aggressive on the glass, but his rebounding numbers suggest he's never been one to dominate there. For his career, Green's total rebound percentage is 8.6. Considering his size and athleticism, that number should be higher. Paul Pierce sits at 9.5 percent for his career, despite being three inches shorter. Green averaged 5.6 rebounds per game in his final season with Oklahoma City and the Celtics would love to get him around that number again.
* Payne: Under. Green's a super-athletic, 6-foot-9 forward, so he should be a good rebounder, right? Well, the numbers suggest he's not. Looking back at the 2010-2011 season (Green's last full season), he boasted a defensive rebounding rate of 13.5 in 49 games for the Thunder and 13.3 in 26 games for the Celtics. Green splits his time between the small forward and power forward spots, but, according to those numbers, he's a below-average rebounder at both spots. Per HoopData, the average defensive rebounding rate for power forwards playing over 20 minutes per game during the 2010-11 campaign was 20.7, and for small forwards playing over 20 minutes per game, it was 14.5. Only once in his career has Green posted a DRR above 14 and that came in the 2008-2009 season (16.3). Maybe playing more exclusively at the small forward spot will help Green boost his rebounding numbers, but for now, I'll take the under in this category.
Defensive rating: 100
* Forsberg: Under. Defensive rating is an estimate of points allowed per 100 possessions. For a comparison, Garnett is typically among the league leaders with a defensive rating around 94-95, while anything under 100 is a solid mark. For his career, Green is at 108 and a 102 rating during his short time in Boston was his best showing. Extended floor time with Boston's defensive-minded starting group will drive down his number and keep it out of triple digits.
* Payne: Under. I'm basing this more off of the Celtics' defensive reputation than I am on Green himself. Green boasts all of the physical tools to be a great defender, and I'm thinking a full season in the Celtics' system will help him harness those gifts and potentially turn into a great wing defender (perfect for the LeBrons and Carmelos of the world). The Celtics will likely put a heavy emphasis on transition play this season, and Green could be a big part of getting the necessary stops and starting the fast break.
September, 11, 2012
Nick Laham/Getty ImagesDespite falling to Boston on draft night, big things are expected of rookie Jared Sullinger.Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: rookie first-round pick Jared Sullinger.
Minutes per game: 15.5
* Forsberg: Over. Sullinger showed enough this summer to believe that Doc Rivers will have confidence to throw him into the fire (particularly since Boston's frontcourt isn't overflowing with depth). Sullinger's rebounding talents alone will allow him to make an immediate impact at the NBA level. It's on him to show that he can meet the team's defensive standards while carving out a role to keep him on the floor in larger doses as the season goes on.
* Payne: Over. Assuming Chris Wilcox serves as the top backup center and Jeff Green plays primarily (but not exclusively) at the small forward spot, Jared Sullinger is Doc Rivers' best option behind Brandon Bass at the power forward position. It'll likely be a give-and-take scenario for Rivers, as the things Sullinger does well (rebounding, getting to the free throw line) will have to outweigh the headaches any rookie will cause a coach. Sullinger seems to have a strong basketball IQ, but he'll likely have his share of stumbles when it comes to mastering the schemes on both sides of the ball. He'll need to overshadow the speed bumps with production in the aforementioned areas to see the court consistently.
Field goal percentage: 50
* Forsberg: Under. Sullinger shot 53 percent in two season at Ohio State and, while he might see less double teams in the NBA, the points won't come as easy. Being an undersized power forward, Sullinger will struggle at times to finish around the rim (think Glen Davis). He will get to the charity stripe often, but that's not going to help this stat category. Sullinger is not afraid to fire away from outside, so the guess here is that his percentage will initially dip at the pro level, but will rise as he gets more comfortable.
* Payne: Under. Sullinger's undersized and doesn't have a ton of lift, which could spell trouble going up against taller defenders in the post. Many of his shots will be contested, which will make it more difficult to finish around the rim, and, even though he's a solid jump shooter, he shouldn't rely solely on his mid-range game to score points. Better numbers here will come with more experience against NBA defenders, but it could easily be a season of growing pains for Sullinger in this regard.
Rebounds per game: 5.5
* Forsberg: Under. Let's use Chris Wilcox as our guide. Last season, Wilcox averaged 4.4 rebounds per game over 17.2 minutes. His total rebound percentage (14.9) is probably on part with what we can expect from Sullinger at the NBA level (he was at 18.2 percent last season at Ohio State). It's going to take a lot of floor time for him to average 5 per game. But it's not an unreasonable bench mark for him to be averaging by the end of the season if he plays to his potential.
* Payne: Over. It's difficult for first-year players to make an impact on championship-contending teams, but this is the one area where Sullinger can really come through for Boston, and he knows it. After summer league in Las Vegas, he openly acknowledged that rebounding is what will earn him minutes, so expect Sullinger to pound the glass whenever he's on the floor. If he really dedicates himself to this part of the game, the numbers should stack up accordingly.
Rookie of the Year voting total: 50
* Forsberg: Over. For reference, hop HERE to see last year's voting distribution. Fifty points would have put Sullinger in the top 4 of last year's voting. Will Sullinger, the 20th pick in June's draft, be able to leapfrog as many as 15 of the players chosen in front of him? He proved to be one of the more noteworthy rookies this offseason and, coupled with Boston's success, suggests to us that he has an excellent chance to do just that.
* Payne: Under. This isn't a knock on Sullinger. There are just too many other quality rookies who will earn more playing time on bad teams and have more chances to pad their stats. Sullinger will likely see some ROY love, because it's truly something for a first-year player to crack the rotation of one of the league's top teams (especially one run by Rivers). A more realistic goal for Sullinger might be consideration for the rookie-sophomore game during All-Star Weekend. It's not an award, but it at least would give him a platform to show people why he's one of the top rookies in the game.
September, 10, 2012
Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty ImagesJason Collins can throw it to the guys in green in the upcoming season.Our over/under series, where colleague Greg Payne and I attempt to project a Celtics player's production for the upcoming season, draws to a close this week. Today's target: veteran center Jason Collins, who inked a one-year deal at the veteran minimum this offseason.
Minutes per game: 10
* Forsberg: Under. If we use Ryan Hollins as a guide here, last year's third center averaged 10.7 minutes per game in 15 appearances late in the season (and held at 10 per game in the postseason). Alas, injuries had depleted Boston's frontcourt depth and foul trouble for Greg Stiemsma opened some playing-time doors for Hollins. The guess here is that the Celtics will run with some smaller lineups this season, utilizing the versatility of Chris Wilcox and Jeff Green, which will further bite into the time needed for defensive-minded Collins. He'll see the floor, but even the 10.3 minutes per game he averaged last season might be tough to reach.
* Payne: Under. Collins will likely be ahead of Fab Melo should any personnel emergencies crop up, but otherwise, he'll be used sparingly. Collins is really here to help combat the Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynums of the world, and even that won't really matter until the postseason. The good thing about a veteran like Collins is he won't need a ton of burn to be productive in spot situations. He's here to be a big body and a big obstacle for opposing teams, and Doc Rivers won't need to play him every game for him to fill that role effectively when needed.
Field goal percentage: 41
* Forsberg: Over. Yes, three of his last four seasons have been below this number (including a mere 31.4 percent in limited appearances during the 2008-09 season), but the guess here is that Collins will only be firing away when it's a gimme. With all the weapons around him, there's no need for Collins to be putting up more than the 40 shots he took last season in 30 regular-season games for the Hawks.
* Payne: Over. Collins is a career 41.2 percent shooter, but never has he had a distributor like Rajon Rondo on his side. I'm not projecting any lofty numbers for Collins here, but, assuming the shots he does get (there won't be many) come right near the rim, he really should be able to post a figure above 41 percent.
Rebounds per game: 1.5
* Forsberg: Over. A 7-footer with good defensive instincts, the guess here is that Collins can pull down a couple rebounds even in short minutes. He averaged 1.6 per game last season and while his rebounding percentages are nothing to write home about, Boston's defense should force plenty of misses and that will create even more opportunities to clean the glass.
* Payne: Under. A lack of minutes, having superior rebounders around him, and the fact that he's just not a great rebounder to begin with will hinder Collins' impact in this area. With a career defensive rebounding percentage of 14.2, Collins has never established himself as a legitimate force on the glass, and it's unlikely he'll do much in this department this coming season.
September, 7, 2012
AP Photo/Mike FuentesWill the JET have a soft landing in Boston during the 2012-13 campaign?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: veteran shooting guard Jason Terry, who signed a three-year deal at the full value of the mid-level exception this offseason.
Points per game: 15
* Forsberg: Under. It feels like you have to go back to the days when the Celtics were bringing Kevin McHale off the bench in the early 80's to find a Boston reserve who put up double-digit offense (Glen Davis actually averaged 11.7 points per game in the 2010-11 campaign while playing starter-caliber minutes). But a no-conscience scorer is something Boston has desperately lacked off the pine during the Kevin Garnett era. Terry will provide it, but we'll pencil him in at just south of 15 points per game due to Boston's potential for balanced output. That said, only once since his rookie season has Terry averaged less than 15.1 points per game.
* Payne: Over. The Celtics didn't bring Terry in to play lockdown defense on Dwyane Wade and Kobe Bryant. Terry's here to score the ball and Doc Rivers shouldn't try to dispel that in any way. Terry won't hesitate to pull the trigger, and as a result, he'll emerge as the most consistent form of offense for the second unit. He'll compete with Rajon Rondo for the team's second-leading team scorer behind Paul Pierce.
Assists per game: 4
* Forsberg: Over. Any scoring dip will have an inverse effect on Terry's distribution numbers. He's averaged 4.7 per game for his career with that number hanging a bit below 4 per game in three of his last four seasons. But again, the overall collection of talent and a balanced team output could push his assists number higher in Boston -- particularly if called upon to shoulder a large load as backup ball-handler behind Rondo.
* Payne: Under. Four is a good benchmark for this category, since Terry's final assist number should hover in the vicinity. I'll take the under, as Terry's averaged over four assists just once in the past five seasons. His overall playmaking ability is arguably better suited for himself than it is for others (he won't create the way Rondo does), so somewhere in the 3-4 assists per game range seems more realistic.
3-point percentage: 38
* Forsberg: Over. Sure, it's been five years since he's reached this mark (his career average). But Terry was banging on the door last season (shooting 37.8 percent overall). Put him on the floor with Courtney Lee or other floor spacers and there's going to be a lot of quality looks at the rim. That's enough to bump him back over our projected number.
* Payne: Under. Terry hasn't shot 38 percent from 3-point nation since the 2006-2007 season, hovering just under that figure ever since. He could see a bump in his percentage (similar to Paul Pierce during the 2009-2010 season), but it's safer to say his numbers will fall in line with those of recent seasons.
Sixth Man of the Year points: 200
* Forsberg: Over. For reference, hop HERE to check out last year's voting. Terry finished third with 81 points, while Lou Williams was second at 231 points. If he produces the way he did in Dallas and proves to be the missing piece for Boston, then Terry will easily be in contention for this award and should see his voting point total easily eclipse that level.
* Payne: Over. James Harden's still the frontrunner for this award, but Terry's always in the conversation. Williams nabbed second place last season, but his move to Atlanta could impact his role and production. Add in Boston emerging as a genuine force in the Eastern Conference and Terry should get plenty of recognition for what should be some quality work off the bench.
September, 6, 2012
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty ImagesAfter a breakout year, will Avery Bradley take another step this season?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: Avery Bradley.
Games played: 66
* Forsberg: Over. Even as he rehabs from a pair of shoulder surgeries, you have to believe the Celtics will have to bolt Bradley down to keep him off the floor once the games matter. During his sophomore season, he appeared in a team-high 64 regular-season games. With offseason additions like Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, the Celtics do have the luxury of bringing Bradley back slowly, but once he's back, the guess here is that he won't leave the floor unless those shoulders -- or other body parts -- pop off again.
* Payne: Under. If Bradley did not return before Christmas, that would automatically eliminate 27 games from his season. The good news for Bradley is the C's are pretty stacked at his position, so he doesn't have to rush his return. Let the 21-year old take his time, get healthy, and gear up for a ferocious January through June stint.
Points per game: 7.6
* Forsberg: Over. Bradley's playing time ramped up over the final 30 games of the 2011-12 season and his post-All-Star numbers show he averaged 10.4 points over 24.9 minutes per game (what's more, that jumped to 15.1 points over 32.9 minutes per contest in 15 April appearances). So long as Bradley is healthy and can resume his sneaky back-door cuts (and re-discover that confidence in his jumper), he can easily leapfrog his overall scoring average from last season.
* Payne: Under. It's difficult to predict how things will shake out between Bradley, Lee, and Terry. Will Lee spend some time at the small forward spot? Will Bradley work as well off the bench alongside Terry (at least when he first returns)? Plus, there won't be much of an onus on Bradley to score this season. His defense is more valuable, as the second unit should have plenty of firepower already.
Steals per game: 1.0
* Forsberg: Over. What's crazy is that -- as tenacious an on-ball defender as Bradley is -- he's recorded only 52 steals in 95 career games. Now, it's a bit like those hockey assists (where a player who makes the first of two passes to set up a scorer doesn't get any recognition) -- Bradley's defense undoubtedly led to deflections or bad passes that translated into opposing-team turnovers. Regardless, his individual steal numbers will almost certainly rise this season.
* Payne: Over. It's a shame end-to-end lockdown defense can't be considered a statistic, but Bradley should be playing enough of it to conjure at least one swipe per game and probably more. The fact that he'll most likely be assigned the primary ball-handler or scoring guard of whatever unit he's up against should only help his chances of stealing the ball and pushing it the other way.
Defensive Player of the Year voting: 20 points
* Forsberg: Over. First, for reference, hop HERE to see the voting breakdown for last year's Defensive Player of the Year. Bradley earned a single vote for 2 points, while a 20-point haul would have earned him a spot in the back end of the top 10. Given that Bradley put himself on the national radar with his breakout play at the end of last season, chances are he'll have more eyeballs on his defensive exploits this season and that will translate to more votes. The question is whether he can make the big leap towards Kevin Garnett (44 points, 5th place in last season's voting).
* Payne: Over. Missing as much as a quarter of the season might hurt Bradley's chances in this area, but last season he really established his defensive reputation and began getting some league-wide recognition for it. That'll be his biggest weapon when he returns, as people will be eager to see that intensity back on the floor. Last year, 20-ish points would have put him in line with Shawn Marion and Luol Deng, and it doesn't feel like a stretch to say that Bradley, even at a different position, will have a greater impact on the opposite side of the ball than those two.
September, 5, 2012
Barry Chin/Boston Globe/Getty ImagesThe Celtics hope there are more high-5's in Chris Wilcox's 2012-13 season.Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: Chris Wilcox, who is back with the team on a one-year deal after a heart ailment cut short his 2011-12 campaign.
Minutes per game: 17.5
* Forsberg: Over. Before his season ended in early March, Wilcox routinely pushed upwards of 27 minutes per night (aided in one stretch by Kevin Garnett's sore left hip that thrust Wilcox into the starting lineup). If he can get both his stamina and play back to that same level, it seems Wilcox will be well over the 17-minute plateau that he's finished at the past two seasons.
* Payne: Over. Assuming Wilcox emerges as the player he was just prior to his heart surgery last season, he'll serve as the primary backup to Kevin Garnett at the center spot, and a mainstay of the second unit. He probably won't crack the 20-minutes-per-game plateau, but it wouldn't shock me at all if Wilcox averaged around 18 per night. The better the second unit performs, the more Wilcox and Co. will play, as Doc Rivers will be more than willing to lean on the bench for longer stretches if it can erase gaps and extend leads.
Field goal percentage: 57.5
* Forsberg: Over. For one simple reason: Transition buckets. Wilcox shot 59.8 percent last season and that number was certainly aided by shots at the rim while running with Rajon Rondo. This has always been the strongest area of Wilcox's offensive game and if the majority of his shots come on fastbreaks and putbacks, he could flirt with 60 percent shooting again.
* Payne: Over. The good thing about Wilcox is he knows what kind of player he is. Does he possess a jump shot? Sure. Does he resort to it often? Not at all. The vast majority of his shots will come near or at the rim, both in the halfcourt and in transition. He won't really be a focus of the defense, which should help him thrive as he puts in easy layup after easy layup, along with a slew of putbacks off of offensive rebounds.
Points per game: 6.5
* Forsberg: Over. Only once in the past four seasons has Wilcox scaled above this number, but let's focus on his production last February as our guide. In inarguably his best month with the Celtics -- one in which he finally carved out his role and thrived with a focus on rebounding and running in transition -- Wilcox averaged 7.2 points over 21 minutes per game. That doesn't sound like an unreasonable benchmark with a deeper second unit overall.
* Payne: Over. The second unit will have plenty of firepower, with the likes of Jason Terry and Jeff Green getting the majority of the shots. But Wilcox will benefit from being a scrappy hustle player. Between layups off of feeds from teammates, transition buckets, offensive rebounds, and trips to the free throw line, Wilcox should be able to contribute around seven points per game.
Rebounds per game: 5.5
* Forsberg: Over. If there's one statistical category Wilcox should shoot for the over in, it's this one. The Celtics absolutely need him to be among the team's top rebounders at both ends. Boston as a whole needs to be better on the glass and it's clearly one of Wilcox's strengths (in February of last season, he averaged 6 rebounds per game and reached double digits in caroms a couple times late in the month).
* Payne: Under. Hopefully Jeff Green will emerge as a consistent contributor on the glass, so Wilcox won't be the only guy pursuing missed shots off the bench. I've already said I think the C's will be a rebounding-by-committee team this season, so with Wilcox potentially going up against the likes of Green and maybe even Jared Sullinger, I'll say he'll finish somewhere in the 4-5 per game range.
September, 4, 2012
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhat can we expect from Rajon Rondo during the 2012-13 season?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign. Today's target: Rajon Rondo.
Minutes per game: 36.5
* Forsberg: Under. Rondo has been above this number for the past three years and, given his growing importance to the team as a whole, it's hard to imagine it dipping. That said, the Celtics don't have a pure backup, but there's capable ball-handling depth behind him in both Jason Terry and Keyon Dooling. Ultimately, it'll come down to just how good this team is as a whole. If there's a few more lopsided wins along the way, Rondo and veterans like Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will all see declines. If every game remains a grind, Rondo can probably expect to be back up over 37 minutes per night.
* Payne: Over. Rondo won't need to play 40 minutes every game, but he'll likely hover around 38. Sure, the Celtics are deeper, but as with every new season, Rondo's importance to the team increases another notch. Doc Rivers might be tempted to insert Rondo back into games sooner following his initial break to get him some burn with what should be a pretty athletic second unit. Rivers won't run Rondo into the ground by any means (and he's only 26 anyway), but he doesn't have to be strict with his minutes the way he'll need to be with someone like Garnett.
Field goal percentage: 47.5
* Forsberg: For his career, Rondo has shot 48.1 percent. That number was down last season (44.8 percent) despite growing consistency in his jumper. With Rondo more confident in that mid-range shot, and more talent to open up potential lanes to the basket, I think his shooting percentage will spike back up. Even if it doesn't reach 47.5 percent, it'll be better than last season.
* Payne: Under. This will probably come down to the types of shots Rondo takes most often. He's going to score more this season than he has in years past, but will he be attacking the rim or shooting from the perimeter? If it's the former, there's a better chance he'll shoot a high percentage. But if he's going to fall back on that jumper, it'll likely bring his overall field goal percentage down. Rondo shot just 27.8 percent from 10-15 feet last season, according to HoopData.
Free throw percentage: 61
* Forsberg: Over. Yes, he's a career, 61.2 percent shooter. Yes, he shot just 59.7 percent last year. It all goes back to confidence and, with a bigger role as a scorer next season, it's likely that free throws will get easier for Rondo. More importantly, an increased importance on Rondo getting to the rim will make it more likely he'll end up at the charity stripe and he'll likely gain confidence from more attempts (his best seasons as the stripe have come with high number of attempts).
* Payne: Over. I'd love to give Rondo more credit in this department, but there's nothing to suggest we'll see a dramatic improvement from him at the free throw line. He hit several clutch freebies during the 2012 postseason, but that doesn't necessarily suggest better overall numbers are to come. Rondo's jump shooting/free throw percentages have been all over the map in recent seasons, but I'd like to think his overall importance to this year's club will somehow result in better numbers.
September, 3, 2012
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesWill Kris Joseph carve out a role in his rookie season with the Celtics?Oh sure, it's Labor Day and a dreadfully quiet time for the NBA season, but colleague Greg Payne and I are giving you a little holiday reading as our Over/Under series rolls into Week 2. We're setting potential benchmarks for Celtics players and predicting if they'll reach them. Up next: Rookie Kris Joseph, who faces the late-second-round pick's typical uphill battle for playing time, which adds a degree of difficulty to projecting his core stats.
Games played: 41
* Forsberg: Under seems the safe bet, but don't rule out the over. If we use E'Twaun Moore as our guide, last year's 55th overall pick played 38 of 66 games, so it's not unreasonable to think Joseph could appear in half of the 2012-13 contests. The question is whether the Celtics will need him that much. Paul Pierce and Jeff Green will eat up most of the minutes at the 3, but an injury could always open a door for Joseph.
* Payne: Under. Joseph's spot on the final roster isn't even guaranteed yet, and, similar to Fab Melo, it's more likely he'll spend the majority of his time in Maine playing for the D-League Red Claws. At 6-foot-7, Joseph can really only help the Celtics at the small forward spot (he could play the two, but the C's are already loaded there), and with Paul Pierce and Jeff Green taking all of the minutes there, the Syracuse rookie should be the odd man out.
Points per game: 2.9
* Forsberg: Under. Yes, he was Syracuse's leading scorer last season, but we don't expect him to be the type that guns away even if he only gets small doses of playing time at the end of lopsided games. It's his all-around abilities that will earn him a spot on the roster and it might be his defensive development that will hold the key to being on the floor. The scoring will come through the flow of the game, but don't expect much early on.
* Payne: Under. If Joseph does manage to find some court time, he won't be relied upon for much, if any, offensive output. Even though the rookie led Syracuse in scoring last season, we don't yet know how his offensive talents will translate to the NBA. Joseph has a good enough jump shot, and is athletic enough to score in transition, but none of that will matter if he can't consistently find floor time.
FG percentage: 42
* Forsberg: Over. Joseph shot 42.1 percent in his senior season at Syracuse (and 44.9 percent for his four-year career). With enough shots this is easily an over situation, but the question is whether he'll get enough shots to make up for any rookie shooting struggles out of the gates. The guess here is that Joseph will pick his spots (and shots) well.
* Payne: Under. This one could go either way (all depending on the amount of floor time Joseph sees). If Joseph does play, it'll probably be in garbage time, and if he's the type to chuck the ball up every time he touches it, his field goal percentage will dip accordingly. But, if he plays a smarter brand of ball, picks his spots, and plays to his strengths on the offensive end (excelling in transition, for example), he could shoot a solid percentage.
August, 31, 2012
AP Photo/Charles KrupaCan Kevin Garnett maintain his numbers at age 36?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign.
Today's target: Kevin Garnett.
Minutes per game: 30.5
* Forsberg: Over. I think Garnett's minutes will come down a bit (averaging 31.2 minutes per game over the past two seasons), but it'll probably be right around our projected benchmark. The Celtics just don't have enough pure size to drastically reduce KG's workload, unless the new offensive additions allow Rivers to lean heavy on defensive-minded Jason Collins or rookie Fab Melo develops quickly. Even at age 36, Garnett can handle his typical workload if those minutes are managed right (though a few more lopsided wins to rest the veteran legs of Garnett and Paul Pierce wouldn't be a bad thing for Boston during the 2012-13 campaign).
* Payne: Under. Expect to see the 5-5-5 plan in place again this season. Doc Rivers won't hit that exact mark every game though, and if the C's win as often as they should, Garnett should see plenty of fourth-quarter rest throughout the year.
FG attempts per game: 12
* Forsberg: Under. Even though the postseason hammered home the fact that Boston is a much better team when Garnett's attempts go up, he remains one of the most unselfish players in the game and new offensive weapons will bring his shot totals back down after last season (13 FGA per game).
* Payne: Under. Garnett, like Pierce, will probably see slight dips in his offensive numbers. What's more important is Garnett getting 12+ touches come playoff time.
Rebounds per game: 8.5
* Forsberg: Under. Garnett's defensive rebound percentage was right at his career average last season (25.8 percent) and while he remains Boston's best rebounding big man, a chance for a slightly reduced workload could drive his per-game average down a bit.
* Payne: Under. Garnett will probably be in the 7-8 rebounds per game range. The C's should be a rebounding-by-committee team this season with no true standout guy on the boards.
Games played: 76
* Forsberg: Under. Entering his 18th NBA season, Garnett has spent nearly half his life playing professional basketball. There's more than 50,000 minutes (regular season and playoffs) on his tires. The Celtics have to tread carefully with him and while he'll want to be on the floor each night, Boston can't push too hard when bumps and bruises pop up. Garnett missed six games last season, including some for rest at the end of the regular season. It's reasonable to expect a similar amount of nights off next season, even with the return to an 82-game grind.
* Payne: Under. It's impossible to predict injuries, but given his age, it's safer to believe Garnett will deal with at least a small handful of nicks and bruises this season, and the C's will take every precaution necessary, meaning he'll probably sit more games than needed in order to fully recover.
Your turn: Offer your over/under predictions in the comments section. Hop HERE to read the full over/under series.
August, 30, 2012
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesFab Melo skies during the rookie photo shoot earlier this month.Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign.
Today's target: Rookie center Fab Melo.
Games Played: 41
* Forsberg: Under. While I think the 7-foot Melo has potential to see the floor more than many expect because of his pure size (think Greg Stiemsma 2.0 -- minus the blocks -- if he can show he won't be a defensive liability), I'm still going under because he's so raw. It will be interesting to see if he can work his way into more consistent minutes -- even in small bunches -- by season's end.
* Payne: Under. Unless Chris Wilcox or (gulp) Kevin Garnett goes down for an extended period of time, Melo will be riding the pine or starting for the Maine Red Claws.
* Forsberg: Under. While Melo's numbers in the rebounds-per-36-minutes category will look better, bite-sized chunks of playing time will likely drive down his overall per-game numbers. And let's face it, Melo isn't the best pure rebounder, but he should still be able to clean the glass assuming he doesn't have a case of MarkBlountitis.
* Payne: Under. Rebounding's an area Melo needs to improve in in general, and he probably won't see the court enough to make any real strides in that area this season.
Field Goal percentage: 55.0
* Forsberg: Under. Melo clearly needs to hone his offensive game and it's hard to imagine him being terribly consistent with his shot in his first NBA season. Greg Stiemsma had a nice little 12-foot jumper to complement his inside game, and even he shot 54.5 percent last season. Melo did shoot 57.6 percent over two seasons at Syracuse.
* Payne: Under. Melo's minutes, if he earns any, will likely be sparse, and he won't be expected to contribute much on the offensive end. His only hope is Rajon Rondo getting him easy looks under the basket.
Points per game: 2.5
* Forsberg: Under. As mentioned with the rebounds-per-game prediction, the guess here is that limited early season minutes will make it tough for Melo to really distinguish himself statistically (particularly on the offensive end). If he can become an 8- or 10-minute per game type player down the road, that sort of offensive production will take care of itself.
* Payne: Under. Melo's still too raw offensively, and if he does find consistent minutes, he won't be any sort of focal point of the offense. Offensive rebounding and putbacks, along with Rondo's nifty passing will be his best chances to accrue points.
Your turn: Offer your over/under predictions in the comments section. Hop HERE to read the full over/under series.
August, 29, 2012
AP Photo/John BazemoreCan Paul Pierce maintain his numbers during the 2012-13 campaign?Each weekday for a three-week span, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under while trying to predict the potential production for a Celtics player during the 2012-13 campaign.
Today's target: Celtics captain Paul Pierce.
Minutes per game: 32
* Forsberg: Under. His age will exceed his jersey number before the regular season tips off (Pierce turns 35 on Oct. 13) and, given the nagging bumps and bruises that have plagued him in recent seasons, its seems more important than ever for the Celtics to exercise the same sort of caution with Pierce as they do with Kevin Garnett. With a healthy Jeff Green and the potential to get some minutes out of Courtney Lee at the 3, Pierce's minutes have a good chance to dip this season with the goal of keeping him healthy.
* Payne: Under. Pierce has never played fewer than 34 minutes per game in his NBA career, but with Green back, ready to go, and Boston's only legitimate reserve option at small forward, Pierce will see a slight decline in minutes, which should be a blessing in disguise come playoff time.
* Forsberg: Over. Despite a woeful year shooting the ball last season (Pierce's field goal percentage plummeted from a career-high 49.7 percent to a below-career-average 44.3 percent). The achilles injury to start the season (as well as the knee woes in the postseason) didn't aid Pierce's offensive cause, and yet he still increased his scoring to 19.4 points pe game. He shouldn't have to carry as much of a lod next season, but his scoring has never gone below 18.3 points per game with Kevin Garnett alongside.
* Payne: Over. The C's are reloaded, and Rajon Rondo owns the team now, but Pierce, even at his age, is still the team's best all-around offensive player. He'll still finish with an average between 18 and 19 points.
3-point percentage: 37.5
* Forsberg: Over. After shooting a career-best 41.4 percent in 2009-10, Pierce's numbers have come crashing back down the last two seasons (37.4 percent in 2011; 36.6 percent in 2012). It seems impossible that his percentage won't jump back up this season, particularly with more offensive weapons added (including ones like Jason Terry and Courtney Lee that will help stretch and open the floor).
* Payne: Over. Pierce will probably average somewhere around four 3-pointers per game, but if he comes into camp in shape with his legs under him (which he will), and remains healthy for the majority of the season, he'll keep the number closer to 40 percent.
* Forsberg: Over. Pierce hasn't gone over 20 in the Big Three era, but he's been banging on the door a few times (including an average 19.7 the last two seasons). Even with less minutes, it's not unreasonable to expect a more efficient Pierce. This is the year he gets back over the hump.
* Payne: Under. Pierce hasn't shown many signs of slowing down as he's gotten older, defying NBA logic in the process. He'll probably see minor drops in his scoring average and possibly his shooting percentage, but his efficiency the last few seasons has been considerable, and there's no reason to think that can't continue.
Your turn: Offer your over/under predictions in the comments section. Hop HERE to read the full over/under series.
August, 28, 2012
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesCan Brandon Bass make another leap during the 2012-13 season?We've got a few more weeks to fill before training camp starts, so we're throwing one more end-of-summer series at you to finish up the offseason. This time, ESPN Boston colleague Greg Payne and I are playing a game of over/under. Each day, we'll pick one Celtics player, set some benchmarks, and offer our thoughts on whether he'll finish over or under that statistical prediction.
Up first: Brandon Bass, who inked a three-year deal to stay in Boston this offseason and is pegged to resume his role as starting power forward during the 2012-13 campaign.
Games played: 68
* Forsberg: Over. Bass has only missed a total of 13 games the last two seasons. Knee woes kept him out for a handful of games late in the first half last year, but he showed an ability to play through bumps and bruises, often bouncing up after hitting the floor hard.
* Payne: Over. Bass is a gamer, capable of enduring many of the routine maladies that befall NBA players over the course of a season. With no medical issues on the radar heading into the season, there's no reason to prematurely think Bass won't participate in 70+ games.
Minutes per game: 31.5
* Forsberg: Under. Injuries in the frontcourt forced the Celtics to run Bass hard last season. This year, they'll have the luxury of backups like Jeff Green (when he's not at the 3) and Jared Sullinger to help fill minutes at the 4. Bass is only 27 and he can expect a young-man's workload, but the overall depth should allow his average to dip a tiny bit.
* Payne: Over (slightly). Jeff Green is Boston's only real backup small forward right now, which will take away from his time at the four spot. With it still unclear how many minutes Jared Sullinger will warrant this season, Doc Rivers will lean on Bass to fill up the majority of the time.
Points per game: 12.0
* Forsberg: Under. The Celtics will likely be more balanced in scoring output if the likes of Green and Jason Terry can provide an offensive boost off the bench. The trickle-down effect could be less shots and lower output from Bass, who shot a career-high 10.7 shots per game last season. The focus for him should be on getting his field goal percentage back up (49.3 percent for his career; 47.9 last season).
* Payne: Over. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will probably see continued dips in the scoring column (not substantial ones), which will put more of an onus on Bass and Rajon Rondo to score for the first unit.
Rebounds per game: 6.0
* Forsberg: Over: The Celtics absolutely need Bass to be more active on the glass. His 14.9 defensive rebound percentage was up from his final season in Orlando, but still below the 17+ percent he averaged in two of his first three seasons in the league. The Celtics need him to utilize that athleticism to be more competitive on the glass.
* Payne: Over. It's pretty much a necessity at this point. Bass is far too athletic -- and capable of carving out space in the paint with his considerable frame -- to not be closer to averaging double-digits on the glass.
Your turn: Offer your over/under predictions in the comments section.