NBA Each day: Pelicans-Thomas Partnership a Low-Threat, Excessive-Upside Guess for Each


When the commerce deadline handed, there have been two knee-jerk questions concerning 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 by means of their fingers. Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic have been up for bidding and Boston got here away with neither. They could 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 combat with COVID-19, Boston not less than confronted their points this time as an alternative of hoping they’d work themselves out.
From a expertise standpoint, Evan Fournier, Mo Wagner and Luke Kornet wouldn’t seem to be a adequate haul for a workforce that’s attempting to do much more than preserve its head above water. Then once more, expertise wasn’t Boston’s situation. Well being has definitely been among the many most prevalent points, as they’ve been snakebitten more durable by the coronavirus than anybody this season.

Celtics newcomer Evan Fournier has been entered into “Well being and Security” protocols, becoming a member of Romeo Langford and Tristan Thompson. Boston Celtics gamers had already led NBA in most days in COVID-related protocols.
— Tom Haberstroh (@tomhaberstroh) March 27, 2021

Jayson Tatum’s play since contracting the virus hasn’t slowed him down totally, however he’s struggled mightily on back-to-backs since recovering from it. That already provides to the inconvenience of Kemba not having the ability to play on back-to-backs along with his ongoing knee points. These issues have positively performed an element in Boston’s struggles.
Nonetheless, the Celtics’ most evident 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 might not have been to get the perfect infusion of expertise on the open market, however to fill its roster holes. What holes have been crammed? 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 a substitute of rehashing what’s already been mentioned about Fournier’s recreation, emphasis must be made on why Boston was searching for somebody like him.
The Celtics offense has technically been higher this 12 months – 114.Zero offensive ranking – than final – 113.3 – and but they went from the league’s fourth-best offensive ranking to the 12th in accordance with Basketball-Reference. That’s extra indicative of what this COVID-shortened season has finished 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 26th lowest level common at 31.Eight factors a recreation. Final 12 months, they have been really tied for final in that division, however they may stay with it as a result of the scoring prowess between Tatum, Kemba, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward was evidently greater than sufficient.
However after all, Hayward has since departed, which has opened the gate for Tatum and Brown to succeed in their potential as scorers. Nonetheless, dropping somebody that might do what Hayward did can’t be shrugged off. Enter Evan Fournier. Fournier initiatives as a Hayward substitute. A two-way scoring swingman able to placing up 18-25 factors whereas additionally dealing with among the playmaking tasks.
Fournier’s inferior to Hayward is, however he’s extra of a pure match than Hayward was because the fourth possibility within the offense. His talents also needs to come very a lot in helpful for a Celtics workforce that has needed to play by means of 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 summation of what Fournier does for the Celtics. Let’s check out Daniel Theis’ last shot in a Celtics uniform.

You possibly can’t actually complain an excessive amount of concerning 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 foul three-point shooter this 12 months – 34.7 p.c – 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 p.c – however he solely takes two a recreation, 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 nearly 39 p.c 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 can take the stress off of their 4 finest gamers.
Wanting on the Fournier commerce from a expertise perspective is taking a look at it from the unsuitable finish of the telescope. Fournier gained’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 massive rotation work, partially as a result of they didn’t actually have a alternative. They’d three bigs on the roster that have been all finest used as facilities who wanted a wholesome 20 minutes a recreation between Theis, Tristan Thompson and Robert Williams III. Their resolution for that was to begin Theis and Thompson.
These two didn’t begin out nice collectively, nevertheless it obtained higher. Nonetheless, it wasn’t a pairing that proved helpful for the workforce. The 2 shared the court docket for a considerable period of time (375 minutes) and in that point, they mustered a plus-0.5 web ranking. That’s a impartial impression at its most interesting. Each Theis and Boston tried their darndest to show him right into a stretch-Four full-time, however that’s simply not what he’s finest suited to.
On prime 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 chunk of final season. The edema and contracting the coronavirus has gotten the best way of his availability, however solely to a minor diploma. This season has given us our first actual prolonged take a look at Williams and it’s been fairly telling. One of the best ways to convey Williams’ development is to check his present per-36 stats to Theis and Thompson (per Basketball-Reference).
Theis: 13.9 factors, 7.7 rebounds, 2.Three assists, 1.5 blocks, 0.9 stealsThompson: 12.7 factors, 13.Four rebounds, 1.6 assists, 0.6 blocks, 0.6 stealsWilliams: 16 factors, 13.Three rebounds, 3.Four assists, 3.6 blocks, 1.Eight 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 team2. Williams’ efforts confirmed that he was the workforce’s best choice at heart, which meant he deserved extra minutes.
It was within the Celtics’ finest curiosity to let considered one of 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 realizing what they knew now, they most likely 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 may have shuffled their heart rotation in order that they’d solely must play two primarily based on particular matchups. That’s form of exhausting to do since they’d have needed to juggle their most enjoyable younger massive since Al Jefferson, their beginning heart on final 12 months’s Jap Convention Finals workforce and an NBA champion with an ocean of playoff expertise to his title. 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 like unleashed.

Robert Williams tonight:
20 PTS9 REB8 AST9-9 FG
He joins Nikola Jokic and Wilt Chamberlain (3x) as the one facilities with a 20/8/Eight recreation on 100% capturing in NBA historical past.
— StatMuse (@statmuse) April 3, 2021

Robert Williams as a starter this season:
10.Eight PPG, 10.5 RPG, 5.Three APG, 3.Zero BPG, 70.Eight FG%
— Taylor Snow (@taylorcsnow) April 3, 2021

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 in the beginning of the season, this roster positively suits consistent with what they needed to realize.
Notice the phrasing. Their roster makes extra sense now. Now, it’s on them to be higher.

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