Source: Boston Celtics Instagram
In my second rendition of Grading The Green, we take a look at how the shooting guards performed this season based on what people expected, and what each of their outlooks are for the 2016 season.
- Avery Bradley
Regular Season Stats: 33.4 minutes per game. 15.2 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 1.54 steals. 44.8 FG%, 36.1 3P%, 78 FT%.
Playoff Stats: 33 minutes per game. 18 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal, 1 block. 43.8 FG%, 14.3 3P%, 100 FT%.
Analysis: Avery Bradley continued to lock down his role as starting shooting guard for the Celtics and turned this season into his best so far. He logged career bests in points per game and steals per game. Bradley continued to show he is one of the best defenders in the game as he was named to the NBA All-Defensive First Team for the first time in his career, and probably not the last. He turned into arguably the second most important player on this team outside of Isaiah Thomas and became a more consistent offensive threat than we've seen so far in his career, his jumper was reliable at times and he performed in the clutch when called upon. Two memories hold the most significance for Bradley this season, and those are his buzzer beating shot in Cleveland and the injury he suffered in the playoffs in Atlanta. On February 5th, the Celtics had played an admirable game in Cleveland but still trailed by 4 points with seven seconds left. Evan Turner drove baseline and was fouled by J.R. Smith and completed the basket, he would then miss the free throw but Marcus Smart made a big play and knocked it off a Cavalier player so the Celtics maintained possession down 2 with 3.1 seconds left. The ball was thrown in to Isaiah Thomas who drove towards the basket and then bounce passed it back to Avery Bradley, who faded away and knocked down the biggest shot for the Celtics so far in the season and buried the Cavs at the buzzer. I remember just jumping around in my room, I was not expecting that at all and it was such a thrilling win. The other play people will remember is in game 1 of the playoff versus the Atlanta Hawks. Avery was running back down the court and suddenly clutched his hamstring and had to be helped to the locker room. He was diagnosed with a grade 1 hamstring strain and missed the rest of the postseason, which was one of the reasons that Celtics fell to the Hawks. Going into next season, Bradley will be healthy again and hopefully will be able to advance his offensive game even more. If he can become a deadly scorer then it will only further help the Celtics, who struggled mightily with being able to create their own offense in the series against the Hawks. Depending on offseason additions I expect AB to average 17-18 points per game next season, and continue to patrol the perimeter with his excellent defense.
- RJ Hunter
Regular Season Stats: 8.8 minutes per game. 2.7 points, 1 rebound, 0.4, assists. 36.7 FG%, 30.2 3P%, 86 FT%.
Playoff Stats: 8.2 minutes per game. 1 point, 1 rebound, 1.2 assists. 22.2 FG%, 20.0 3P%, no FTs attempted.
Analysis: RJ Hunter was drafted by the Celtics with the 28th overall pick in the 2015 draft. He was tagged as the most NBA ready player that the Celtics had picked in the draft, and immediately could provide help at a position of need for the Celtics. Boston had struggled with long distance shooting, and in college Hunter had made 253 3 pointers while shooting 35.4% from distance. The percentage numbers may not sound impressive, but Hunter had been the only consistent scoring threat at Georgia State and ultimately had to carry them to a lot of wins. He also had a sweet shooting stroke and a quick release, and I sure thought this guy would make an impact in his rookie season. Instead, Hunters first season was a little bit of a dud. He scored a career high 12 points on November 24th in a loss against the Atlanta Hawks, but other than that he only played sparingly throughout the season. Much of his year was marred by only a few garbage time minutes or DNPs. When he wasn't relegated to the bench, RJ Hunter spent time in the D-League where he failed to impress. In 8 appearances with the Maine Red Claws he averaged 13.8 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 1.9 steals but he only shot 35.9% from the field and 29.6% from 3 point range. It was a disappointing year for Hunter, who ultimately didn't live up to what most Celtics fans were expecting. This is a very important offseason for him, he needs to find his shooting touch and impress the coaching staff, the Celtics have a ton of draft picks and with RJ's failure to show he can be a consistent contributor, his time in Boston could already be winding down.
- James Young
Regular Season Stats: 6.9 minutes per game. 1.0 points, 0.9 rebounds, 0.3 assists. 30.6 FG%, 23.1 3P%, 25 FT%.
Playoff Stats: 3.3 minutes per game. 0.7 points, 0.3 turnovers, no other stats. 33.3 FG%, 0 3P%, no FTs attempted.
Analysis: Does anyone remember how hyped up James Young was coming into the season? He had apparently added 20 pounds of muscle and people were expecting him to be able to get some time on the court after a rookie campaign where he spent a lot of his time trekking from Boston to Maine to play in the D-League. It's safe to say that he completely failed to live up to any expectations that people put on him this season. Once again, it was a year filled with DNPs or garbage time minutes for Young. He appeared in only 29 games and his best game during the regular season was an outing where he scored 5 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in a loss to the Golden State Warriors in early December. In the D-League, Young averaged 15.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.9 assists, and 1.7 steals on shooting splits of 40.% from the field and 35% from downtown. He didn't play terribly in the D-League, but he also didn't impress as much as an NBA player should. He is still the youngest player on the roster at only 20 years old, but eventually the excuse of him being 'young' is going to run out. James Young absolutely has to have a huge offseason if he wants to remain a Celtic, he has to be able to score consistently, which is one of the reasons the Celtics drafted him in the first place. He has improved on defense since entering the NBA, but there is still a lot of room for growth. Young has the potential to be a good player in the NBA, but he has to want to be great and put in the time to hone his skills. I expect the Celtics to look into trading Young this offseason, and if he remains on the roster then he is going to have one last chance to prove he even belongs in the NBA.
- John Holland
Regular Season Stats: N/A
Playoff Stats: 1 minute. No Stats.
Analysis: Holland is a familiar name for you Boston University fans, he was a two time America East Conference scoring champion before going undrafted in 2011. He played on a couple different teams in Europe and would travel back to the United States to play in the Summer League with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat, and Minnesota Timberwolves. Holland ended up in the D-League in December 2015 and played for the Canton Charge. He played well for the Charge in 37 games and averaged 16 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1.2 steals on 52% shooting from the field and 36.9% from three point range. Then in the D-League playoffs he stepped his game up and averaged 28.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal, and 1 block as he led the Canton Charge in an upset win over none other than the Maine Red Claws. The Celtics signed him to a 2 year contract, with the second year non-guaranteed, and they will have the chance to evaluate Holland over the summer to see if he could have any future with this team. I think the Celtics will use Holland in the summer league and also as a body in camp, but I don't expect him to be on the active roster when the 2016-2017 season tips off.
My next article will focus on the Small Forwards. Make sure to be looking out for what I thought of Jae Crowder, Evan Turner, and Jonas Jerebko this season!