(The Celtics Have More Shooters Than They Started with Last Year)
The clock is ticking down on the NBA off season and cap space and roster spots are drying up like the California reservoirs. That means that the odds of significant changes to the Celtics roster before the start of the season are also shrinking.
So, I thought I'd apply my shooting style analysis to what we're currently working with in terms of the Celtics roster. I did something similar for the Celtics last year in a post that ended up being titled, "No Threes for Us, We're Celtics."
Long distance shooting isn't the only valid playing style, but a number of studies have indicated that having long distance shooters on the court is helpful to offensive efficiency even beyond the extra point on the three. The general thought these days is that an effective line up needs to have mixture of shooting styles with at least a few players able and willing to shoot from three.
There has actually been a significant turn over in the Celtics back court since the start of last year, and we've gained a year of data on last year's rookies. In addition, there's also been an evolution in Jared Sullinger's case in his first year under Brad Stevens with a not always successful addition of the three point shot to his arsenal. So that's no longer an exactly accurate description of the roster.
Quickly, the following table shows the results of a statistical data mining technique to group data with similar cases called Cluster Analysis on the shooting styles of players. The Clusters were run separately on front court players and back court players to give a better opportunity to finely analyze playing styles.
First the guards and wings:
In contrast to last year there are three back court players that qualify as Stretchers based on their shot selection, where Keith Bogans, who effectively ended up not playing at all last year, was the lone Stretch player in the back court.
In addition, there are the incoming rookies Marcus Smart and James Young. Smart took over 42% of his field goal attempts from three, and 35% at the rim, according to Hoop-Math. Though his conversion rate on threes was only 29.9% Young even more clearly has Stretch potential with 52% of his shots from three and only 22% at the rim. Young had a decent 34.9% conversion rate, but the Celtics front office seems to think that number is below his expected long term shooting ability.
The front court also has a couple of players who adopted a 'Stretch' shooting mix, though the percentage of threes taken for a big to be considered a 'Stretch' player is lower than for guards and wings.
Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and Vitor Faverani all took enough shots from three under Stevens to rate as Stretch Bigs, while Brandon Bass remained a mid-range specialist.
Of course, shooting and making the three are not the same thing, though there is a relationship. In order for a shooter to provide effective spacing he has to be guarded, meaning the defense has to want to discourage him from shooting. The final column on this table with the points per shot from three gives a very rough idea of the player's immediate 'stretch potential' based on their shooting percentage from three last year. (I actually have another project in development looking at predicting three point shooting year to year, if I ever get around to completing it).
Shot Selection Avery! Based not only on last year, but over his career as a 36.6% shooter from three Bradley has the best potential as a Stretch shooter, which would not only increase his efficiency but add provide more space for other player's to get to the basket.
Chris Johnson, Marcus Thornton and Jeff Green under performed their long term three point shooting, so should be added as potential Stretch threats. Although Green is probably more valuable as a Slasher over the long term, but in certain line ups he could take the Stretch role.
Phil Pressey needs to be able to shoot an NBA three to remain in the NBA beyond this year.
And the same for the front court.
Obviously, Olynyk looks like the most legitimate Stretch big threat on this team, while there's probably only one more year on the Sullinger from three experiment unless he starts hitting at a higher rate. I also wouldn't mnd seeing Bass expand his range at leas to some corner threes if he sticks around. It would be good for both his trade value and next contract if it works.
There isn't really a knock down shooter on this roster, but there are at least a couple of willing and marginally capable three point shooters, which is at least a step in the right direction. (Now if only Avery would take two steps back).