Why do I think a Celtics trade is going to happen? Rebounding, that’s why. Rebound percentage is an interesting stat because only one person can get a rebound when there is a rebound opportunity. So, if a team gets every defensive rebound, that team will average a 20% defensive rebounding percentage. Only 1 out of the five players can get the rebound after all.
No player on the Celtics is over the 20% DRB% mark this season. The Celtics’ top five players for DRB% are Bradley (19. 6%), Crowder (19. 6%), Zeller (18. 5%), Horford (18. 1%), and Rozier (17. 4%). There are 66 players in the NBA who have played at least 200 minutes this season, and have a higher defensive rebound percentage than either Crowder or Bradley. That means each team averages having two better rebounders than the Celtics best rebounder.
The Celtics are not tall
Celtics do have a short team, and that is a little bit of their strength as well. Thomas, Bradley, and Rozier are all very good, but short. Even Smart is a little short for his position, but he is very good at making up for any disadvantages. Interestingly, two of the Celtics shortest players managed to make the team’s top five in DRB%. These are guys that are supposed to be out on the perimeter, and looking to run on the fastbreak if they can.
Numbers are always going to lead you in the wrong direction a little bit. Sometimes a big man boxes a guy out, and that allows the rebound to fall to Thomas or Bradley. Or, Sometimes there’s a long rebound that is captured on the perimeter. Still, the best rebounders are good rebounders because they rebound, and the Celtics don’t have a lot of bigs that rebound.
Let’s take a minute to check out some of the leagues’ best rebounders.
Hassan Whiteside: 7’0 265 lbs 15. 1 RPG, great length, and great athleticism for his size.
Andre Drummond: 6’11 279 lbs 13. 8 RPG, great length, and positioning.
DeAndre Jordan: 6’11 265 11. 9 RPG, great length, positioning, and very strong.
All three of those players mentioned above have a 7’6 wingspan or greater. Most people have a wingspan that’s a couple inches longer than their height. The best big men tend to have unnaturally long arms. Unfortunately, the NBA doesn’t release measurements for it’s players every season. So, most of the measurement data is from when players were 19 or 20 years old.
The Celtics have some length with their bigs, but most of their players are either not seven feet, have short arms for their height, or both.
Breaking Down the Celtics Bigs (Except Horford)
Tyler Zeller is 7’0, 253 lbs, but has a listed wingspan of 7’0. So, he is losing half a foot of reaching distance on those top rebounders. He also does not have great athleticism, and he is not very good at getting leverage on players he is boxing out. Zeller does have an improved mid-range shot, and nice touch in the paint.
Kelly Olynyk is 7’0, 238 lbs, but has a listed wingspan of just under 6’10. His combination of short arms and light weight make him an easy target for quality rebounders. Olynyk has put on some weight over the past couple season, so he could be closer to 250, but his lack of length and feel for rebounding hurt him on the glass. Olynyk does have better than average handles for a big, and is a potential sharp shooter from outside.
Getty Image: Brian Babineau
Amir Johnson is a good example of why the NBA measurements are not very reliable. He is listed at 6’9, 240 lbs. His height measurement dates back to just after he turned 18 years old. He was drafted three months after his 18th birthday. My guess is Amir is about 6’11 and he has decent length. His continuously tall hair may be a little deceiving though.
Amir’s had a few decent rebounding games this season, but his playing time is consistently falling. He’s still in the starting five, but he has registered minutes played in the teens in four of his last five games. Clearly, Stevens is not happy with either Amir’s play, or his fit with what the team is trying to do.
The Power Forwards
Jonas Jerebko is 6’10, 231 lbs, with a wingspan listed at 6’11. Once again, another player that doesn’t have the length to out-reach the opposition. Jerebko is also one of the least athletic players on the celtics.He is also fairly thin, and he struggles to get good positioning on opponents. Jerebko is a solid defender, who can have great defender moments. His outside shooting can be a real asset as well, much like Olynyk.
Jordan Mickey is 6’8, 235 lbs, and has an absurdly large wingspan at just over 7’3. Mickey hasn’t really had enough playing opportunities to show whether or not his long arms can makeup for his short height for a PF. He is a decent outside shooter, and probably the team’s second best shot blocker.
His lack of height combined with his low weight make him easy to move down low. Though, he does use his wiry frame, and long arms to his advantage a lot. Mickey is hard to judge with so little playing time, but apparently Stevens isn’t ready to give him extended minutes just yet.
Finding Another Diamond in the Rough
The Celtics have amassed a group of bigs that are more finesse players than grinders. They have Smart and Crowder, who are good at being physical. Horford has been the team’s best rebounding big overall in his short time with the team. He’s registered two double digit rebound games since coming back from his injury.
The Celtics will need to figure out a way to add a tough-nosed big man to their roster. In just four games out of sixteen this season the Celtics had the top rebounder in the game. Three of those four were Bradley, with the other being Amir.
Ainge really set the bar high with plucking Crowder from Dallas a couple years back. Finding a player that is buried on the bench, but is ready to go is really hard to do. Crowder’s statistics with Dallas didn’t show any indication that he was going to be this good this soon. So, the scouting department must have seen something outside of statistics.
If there is a big out there that is ready to make the jump like Crowder did, then Danny should be working every angle to get that guy to town quick. Trades rarely happen this early in the season, but there are a lot of things that may make for a buyers market this season. One key date coming up is December 15th, which is the date most free agent signings from this past summer will be eligible for trade.
Why is it going to be a buyers market this season?
There is a new CBA deal that is just days away from being completed that changes the landscape for a lot of teams. A good GM is one who has a long term plan and a short term plan. They need to focus on the long term plan, and be ready to pounce if the short term plan becomes an option. A lot of long term plans will be altered by the new CBA.
Rookie Scale Increases
Rookies are going to get paid a lot more. This past summer’s first overall pick Ben Simmons, doesn’t even make six million. That’s 6. 28% of the cap for this season. Next year, the number one overall pick will be getting between 9-10% of the cap, at least. That comes out to somewhere between $9. 36m and $10. 4m. So, teams that were setting their cap situation up to make a run at a big name next summer, might not have the same cap flexibility.
Increased Roster Sizes
Roster sizes are likely to increase. In an effort to keep as much young talent in the US as possible, the NBA is trying to make the D-League more useful to NBA teams. Roster sizes will be increased by two or three spots. Going from fifteen to either seventeen or eighteen. That’s going to eat up more cap space.
Clubs are also going to be able to offer players two-way contracts. That’s a contract that pays a player a certain amount based on which league they are playing in. If they are in the D-League, they’ll be paid based on a $75,000 or so annual contract. If they are called up to the NBA club, then they get paid based on whatever the contract is setup for by NBA standards.
Higher Paying Exceptions
The exceptions are also on the rise, along with player minimums. The exceptions are a little too complicated for me, but teams are going to be paying more across the board, than what they were on pace to pay from last summer.
Teams Might Actually Want Second Round Picks
Second round picks should be a little more valuable. One year too late for Danny and his five second-rounders from last season. But, with the roster size increase, teams will be able to keep their second round picks around for a season or two.
What are the Celtics trade assets they are willing to give up?
Ainge will probably have a hard time convincing himself of trading any of these players:
These are the core players that are all going to be with the team for the next couple seasons, at least. He’s also going to want to keep Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown in most trade scenarios.
The remaining players are a mix of young guys that are not signed past this season, Veterans whose contracts are expiring, Demetrius Jackson and Jordan Mickey. The Celtics also have a couple rights to players in Yabusele and Zizic.
There are a few available draft picks as well, but I don’t think he is going to be interested in trading Brooklyn’s pick swap for this season.
Who might be available?
There is a list of players that have been thrown out there. Bogut, Monroe, Noel, and even Anthony Davis. Perhaps one of them is an option Ainge is looking into, but I am going to focus on one team in particular.
Celtics trade with the Utah Jazz
The Jazz are in a little bit of a predicament after this season. They have two players that they want to keep in George Hill and Gordon Hayward, who are free agents. They just extended big man Rudy Gobert, and are in talks with Hill. The big question for them is if they plan to keep Hayward or Favors.
The Jazz would likely not be able to avoid the luxury tax next season if they kept Favors, and signed Hayward. I do not think Utah is willing to go into the luxury tax next season. Hayward has been great for Utah, and he’s also been very reliable for them as well. Favors, on the other hand, has missed some time for the Jazz, and they have a player they really like in Trey Lyles waiting for a chance.
Most Jazz fans will tell you how much they love Favors, and how Lyles is not ready to take over for him. Favors is a big community guy, and he even spends his offseasons in Utah, Utah. That’s a rarity, and certainly a reason to want to keep him around. But, basketball is a business, and sometimes other factors take precedent.
Although Favors and Gobert have had success on the court together, there are some that think management wants someone who can stretch the floor to play next to Gobert. Lyles offers that ability to stretch the floor, while Favors has yet to extend his range. Favors also has a decent amount of value, with his contract going through next season.
Interestingly, if Utah decided to keep Favors around and Hayward bolts in free agency, then Boston is a likely destination. Hayward does officially have a player option for next year, but he will most likely not pickup that option.
If Utah is scared of Favors injury history, then why would Boston trade for him?
Obviously, when Favors is healthy he is exactly the type of player this team is missing. Right now, Favors is dealing with a bone contusion, and he is likely to be out another week or two. A contusion is not something that goes away quickly, but it’s also not something that lasts as a potential long term issue.
Favors may be one of the hardest guys to pry away from a team because he really wants to stay with his club. More importantly, his club is in Utah, and not a lot of players are choosing Utah as a top choice.
What’s the trade offer?
I’m starting the offer with Olynyk. He seems like an ideal fit next to Gobert. Olynyk has the outside shooting, he can dribble like a seven foot point guard, and he has worked a lot on defensive positioning. Everything Olynyk Struggles with, Gobert exceeds in.
So, Olynyk for Favors and done? No, of course not, now we just need to figure out how to make this a good deal for Utah, and make the money work.
Utah is a tough team to deal with because they really like their players. They have a good young group. They also have two draft picks in each of the next two drafts. Though one of those picks in the Warriors pick this year, so that almost doesn’t count.
Here’s my offer
Utah deals: Favors and Neto
Boston deals: Jerebko, Olynyk, Rozier, and 2018 Nets pick.