How Important Is A Stretch Four Off the Bench?
Posted by Brendan Jackson on Mar 31, 2010
“Rondo penetrates into the lane as the defense collapses. Rondo adeptly kicks the ball out to a wide open Kevin Garnett, who knocks down a 17 footer.”
How accustomed have we become to seeing this night in and night out. It’s one of the easiest buckets the Celtics have been getting this season, but unfortunately, that shot becomes infinitely harder once KG exits the game.
Glen Davis is not looking to take that shot. If he was, his shooting percentages would be a lot lower. Right now, Davis is a meager 13 of 46 from the 16 to 23 foot range which is a whopping 28%. Compare this to Garnett’s 47% and it’s easy to see why a whole section of the playbook has to be tossed out once Garnett leaves the game. Some of the more staggering numbers- brace yourself- reside in the location differential of field goal attempts. Did you know that 300 of KG’s 684 field goal attempts came from this 16 to 23 foot range? That’s a lot of shots. It’s also a lot of shots that disappear once Glen Davis and Rasheed Wallace enter the game.
Glen Davis has regressed from his playoff prowess from just one year ago mostly due to doing the wrong thing and trying to do the right thing. Breaking thumbs and getting technicals give credence to Baby’s nickname, but these thing have also undoubtedly caused Baby to regress in production. Another big factor Baby’s diminishing offensive production comes from playing his role. Rebounds have been a big problem for the Celtics this season and Davis was asked work on becoming a ball hawk. In many ways, this has been a successful experiment- despite Baby’s propensity for racking up more Moses type boards than one’s that give the team real second chance points. Davis has increased his aggression for loose balls- something that cannot be easily measured by conventional stats.
The Celtics knew this would become an issue last year. With KG coming back into the fold, the Celtics would become markedly better and wouldn’t need Glen Davis to produce offensively the way he did in last year’s playoffs. This is precisely why they sent all meaningful delegates to persuade Rasheed Wallace to come to Beantown. The Celtics were willing to take on the baggage if they could spread the floor as well as the starters do. While ‘Sheed’s numbers from the 16 to 23 foot range aren’t anything to write home about, his numbers from 10 to 16 are just where they need to be, hovering at right around 45% for the past four seasons.
So the Celtics have a stretch four in Rasheed Wallace. Problem solved….except not at all.
Somewhere along the lines, the “stretch four” message became obscured and bastardized into what we have seen all season. Instead of Wallace killing the opposition from 10 to 16 feet, he’s languishing at the three point line. Wallace has attempted 270 three point shots this season, which is almost half of his total field goal attempts (581). The good news is that Rasheed is still shooting 49% from the 10 to 16 foot range. The bad news is that he has only attempted a paultry 83 shots from this range. Pathetic. Obviously, there are more things wrong with the ‘Sheed experiment than shot selection- he doesn’t rebound, he reaches instead of defends, he argues with the refs, etc.- but this is something that cannot be overlooked when evaluating Wallace’s impact and his expected impact before the season started.
With Baby losing his stroke and not pushing enough kids coupled with Wallace’s shot selection, the Celtics lose a big component of their offense. This is something that the Lakers nipped in the bud the second they started making Lamar Odom come off the bench. I have to admit that I do not like Odom’s game one bit, but the truth is, the man can put up some numbers. While his outside shot percentages are fairly average, Odom balances his shot selection and most of his shot attempts are still at the rim despite having the ability to knock down the outside jumper.
Not all the upper-echelon teams have a stretch four coming off the bench, but not all of the upper-echelon teams need a stretch four off the bench. Case in point: Orlando has Ryan Anderson sitting at the end of their bench. Unfortunately for the C’s, the Magic just have more offensive firepower than the Celtics. It’s a sad reality, but if the Celtics want to get better at making teams stay with their men on defense, they must prove to their opponents that they can knock down these shots. Zach wrote the other day about the effect Rajon Rondo could have if he developed even an elbow jumper. The lack of a stretch four only echoes this issue.
(All stats were taken from HoopData.com and ESPN.com)