The Boston Celtics may have missed out on an opportunity to get the big they need
The Boston Celtics have a nice starting core with Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley,Jae Crowder, and Al Horford. However, that fifth spot (which has been Amir Johnson) is not nearly as strong. Johnson is starting for his defense and his defense only. He is top ten for power forwards in DRPM (Player’s estimated on-court impact on team defensive performance, measured in points allowed per 100 defensive possessions). However, Johnson really doesn’t add much at all on the offensive end. Johnson is only playing about 20 minutes per game. Kelly Olynyk is coming off the bench and also playing about 20 minutes per game, but he can sometimes be a liability on the defensive end. The Celtics do not really have a big that can pair nicely next to Horford that can contribute on both ends of the court on a nightly basis.
When Paul Millsap‘s name was being tossed around in trade rumors, it seemed like virtually every team in the NBA was connected to his name. Millsap would have been a perfect fit next to Horford due to his unique versatility. Millsap is a consistent scorer, averaging just under 18 points per game, and he also grabs eight boards per game. At the power forward position, he can score down low, he has a mid-range game, and he can stretch the floor with his 3-point shooting. What is even more impressive and underrated is Millsap’s defensive versatility. He can match up with perimeter players and post players. Millsap is ranked third in DRPM in the entire NBA, and is ranked first among all power forwards. His defense is sometimes forgotten because he is such a great offensive player.
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Danny Ainge missed on a huge opportunity to acquire Millsap during the heat of all the trade rumors. Not only would he be an immense upgrade from Johnson offensively, but you wouldn’t lose that much defensively. In fact, aside from shot blocking and protecting the rim, Millsap would be a big upgrade defensively from Johnson. Horford would need to take more responsibility in protecting the paint.
Millsap would have improved this Celtics team on both ends of the court. He would become another offensive weapon, he would pair nicely next to his old teammate, and would add another great defender to a group that already consists of Crowder, Smart, and Bradley. Danny Ainge definitely missed out on an opportunity here. Hopefully Danny Ainge is still looking around to add a big.