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When the commerce deadline handed, there have been two knee-jerk questions in regards to the strikes Boston made.

1. Simply Evan Fournier?
2. You traded Daniel Theis to save lots of a couple of bucks?

It’s true that the Celtics let a uncommon alternative slip via their fingers. Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic have been up for bidding and Boston got here away with neither. They might come to remorse that, however within the face of a season that began so promising solely to develop right into a cascade of inconsistency, frustration and what looks like a unending struggle with COVID-19, Boston at the very least confronted their points this time as a substitute of hoping they’d work themselves out.

From a expertise standpoint, Evan Fournier, Mo Wagner and Luke Kornet wouldn’t look like a adequate haul for a crew that’s making an attempt to do much more than hold its head above water. Then once more, expertise wasn’t Boston’s concern. Well being has definitely been among the many most prevalent points, as they’ve been snakebitten tougher by the coronavirus than anybody this season.

Jayson Tatum’s play since contracting the virus hasn’t slowed him down completely, however he’s struggled mightily on back-to-backs since recovering from it. That already provides to the inconvenience of Kemba not with the ability to play on back-to-backs together with his ongoing knee points. These issues have positively performed a component in Boston’s struggles.

Nonetheless, the Celtics’ most obtrusive concern earlier than the commerce deadline was that their roster simply didn’t mesh on a number of ranges. So, after they made the strikes that they did, their intentions could not have been to get one of the best infusion of expertise on the open market, however to fill its roster holes. What holes have been stuffed? Let’s begin with their higher-rep acquisition, Fournier.

Our personal Dylan Thayer already did an amazing job filling everybody in on what sort of participant Boston could be getting with the Frenchman. As an alternative of rehashing what’s already been mentioned about Fournier’s sport, emphasis must be made on why Boston was in search of somebody like him.

The Celtics offense has technically been higher this yr – 114.0 offensive ranking – than final – 113.3 – and but they went from the league’s fourth-best offensive ranking to the twelfth based on Basketball-Reference. That’s extra indicative of what this COVID-shortened season has completed to defenses league-wide. Nonetheless, in Boston’s case, their scoring burden has been positioned extra on the starters than ever earlier than.

Boston’s bench scoring as of April third has the twenty sixth lowest level common at 31.8 factors a sport. Final yr, they have been truly tied for final in that division, however they might reside with it as a result of the scoring prowess between Tatum, Kemba, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward was evidently greater than sufficient.

However in fact, Hayward has since departed, which has opened the gate for Tatum and Brown to succeed in their potential as scorers. Nonetheless, shedding somebody that would do what Hayward did can’t be shrugged off. Enter Evan Fournier. Fournier tasks as a Hayward alternative. A two-way scoring swingman able to placing up 18-25 factors whereas additionally dealing with among the playmaking duties.

Fournier’s not so good as Hayward is, however he’s extra of a pure match than Hayward was because the fourth choice within the offense. His skills also needs to come very a lot in helpful for a Celtics crew that has needed to play via Kemba’s knee points and Tatum’s struggles on back-to-backs. He’s a scoring cushion each for the 2 of them and for the second unit that anybody with eyes may see they craved.

Right here’s a great summation of what Fournier does for the Celtics. Let’s check out Daniel Theis’ ultimate shot in a Celtics uniform.

You may’t actually complain an excessive amount of in regards to the high quality of that shot. Theis was huge open and he barely missed. The issue is, the Bucks have been completely okay with him taking that shot on the buzzer. Theis hasn’t been a nasty three-point shooter this yr – 34.7 % – however he’s not a menace from distance. And right here’s the underside line- neither is Semi Ojeleye. Neither is Aaron Nesmith. Neither was Javonte Inexperienced. Romeo Langford has barely performed. Grant Williams has been hitting threes with fairly good accuracy – 39.5 % – however he solely takes two a sport, that means the Celtics have but to weaponize it. Groups would let the Celtics’ supporting solid of wings shoot threes till they’ll constantly make them pay for it. Fournier is in a special ballpark.

Earlier than coming to Boston, Fournier was capturing virtually 39 % from three on 7.2 heaves an evening this season. He did that when defenses may focus extra on stopping him in Orlando than he’ll in Boston now that he’s round higher offensive expertise. The Celtics lastly have a three-level complimentary scorer that may take the stress off of their 4 greatest gamers.

Wanting on the Fournier commerce from a expertise perspective is it from the fallacious finish of the telescope. Fournier received’t make the Celtics higher due to his expertise as a participant. He makes them higher as a result of his skillset aids what the Celtics desperately wanted.

Then there’s the Daniel Theis commerce.

The Celtics actually tried to make their three large rotation work, partially as a result of they didn’t actually have a alternative. That they had three bigs on the roster that have been all greatest used as facilities who wanted a wholesome 20 minutes a sport between Theis, Tristan Thompson and Robert Williams III. Their resolution for that was to start out Theis and Thompson.

These two didn’t begin out nice collectively, but it surely obtained higher. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a pairing that proved helpful for the crew. The 2 shared the courtroom for a considerable period of time (375 minutes) and in that point, they mustered a plus-0.5 internet ranking. That’s a impartial affect at its best. Each Theis and Boston tried their darndest to show him right into a stretch-4 full-time, however that’s simply not what he’s greatest fitted to.

On high of that, the youthful and flashier Williams was beginning to come out of his shell. Boston has been conservative with Williams out of concern for his hip edema that saved him out for a great chunk of final season. The edema and contracting the coronavirus has gotten the way in which of his availability, however solely to a minor diploma. This season has given us our first actual prolonged have a look at Williams and it’s been fairly telling. One of the simplest ways to convey Williams’ progress is to check his present per-36 stats to Theis and Thompson (per Basketball-Reference).

Theis: 13.9 factors, 7.7 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 1.5 blocks, 0.9 steals
Thompson: 12.7 factors, 13.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.6 steals
Williams: 16 factors, 13.3 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 3.6 blocks, 1.8 steals

Exterior of rebounding, Williams had Theis and Thompson beat by a heavy margin. So, two elephants have been beginning to present themselves.

1. The Theis and Thompson duo wasn’t serving to the crew
2. Williams’ efforts confirmed that he was the crew’s best choice at middle, which meant he deserved extra minutes.

It was within the Celtics’ greatest curiosity to let one in all Theis or Thompson go to get again on monitor. Theis’ contract was cheaper and expiring, so he was the odd man out. In hindsight, if Boston had a do-over understanding what they knew now, they in all probability would have handed on signing Thompson and used the mid-level exception on another person. Not due to Thompson’s play, however as a result of it was clear that they solely wanted two pure facilities, not three.

Now they might have shuffled their middle rotation in order that they might solely should play two primarily based on particular matchups. That’s type of onerous to do since they might have needed to juggle their most enjoyable younger large since Al Jefferson, their beginning middle on final yr’s Jap Convention Finals crew and an NBA champion with an ocean of playoff expertise to his identify. These three are too good to be confined to a utility position. However collectively, the frontcourt was clogged.

Now it’s not — and now we’re starting to see what Timelord seems to be like unleashed.

Final week, Boston’s roster was a multitude. They couldn’t get away with their lack of bench scoring and one thing needed to give with their bigs. Since making their strikes, the outcomes have been blended, There’s no telling if this may flip the season round for them or it’s going to be extra of the identical. For the targets that the Celtics had in thoughts firstly of the season, this roster positively suits consistent with what they wished to attain.

Notice the phrasing. Their roster makes extra sense now. Now, it’s on them to be higher.



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