The last NBA trade deadline of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement passed with a bang this week, as roughly 10% of the league changed teams (48 players in total). Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams were the two biggest names, but perhaps no trade meant more to the landscape of the 2011 postseason than Oklahoma City sending Jeff Green and Nenad Kristic to Boston for Kendrick Perkins and Nate Robinson.
I’ve spent the last year or so having the following arguments with people:
- Kendrick Perkins is more important to Boston than people realize; he’s one of the best defensive centers in the league.
- Jeff Green’s inability to be a legit third cog is the reason the Thunder aren’t elite. He’s undersized at power forward, doesn’t rebound particularly well and doesn’t shoot well.
And the numbers agree.
After 1250 possessions tracked from last year’s playoffs and this season, Perkins grades out as one of the best defenders in the league. Opponents are shooting just 29.3% when he guards them, one of the best figures in the league. He makes a defensive error about half as often as the average player. Offensively, he is as advertised: a negative with little range and a borderline liability down the stretch.
My player rating — to be discussed in a future post — thinks this a huge win for Oklahoma City and a step back for Boston. Such an estimation is based on the following minutes distribution for each team:
- Rondo 38
- Allen 36
- Pierce 33
- Garnett 33
- Davis 29
- Green 27
- Kristic 22
- West 18
- Wafer 4
- Durant 39
- Westbrook 35
- Ibaka 30
- Perkins 27
- Collison 26
- Harden 26
- Sefolosha 25
- Maynor 13
- Robinson 12
- Cook 7
Specifically, as long as the O’Neal’s remain out of the lineup, the metric predicts a point differential drop of just over three points per game (Deltone West’s return not included). Ouch. Conversely, it predicts an even greater improvement for Oklahoma City, although still leaves them slightly short of Boston as a team. Obviously, each team’s SRS will be something to follow closely over the final quarter of the season.
The Celtics have more question marks now besides the O’Neals. West is being reintegrated into the lineup, so it’s possible he might pick up some offensive slack. More germane, though, is that Jeff Green is expected to log healthy minutes at small forward, a more natural fit for him.
Green started five games at the 3 back in 2009, averaging 14.6 points, 5.0 rebounds 2.2 assists on 50.3% True Shooting in such games. According to 82games, he’s played 10% of his minutes this year at small forward, with terrible offensive results and excellent defensive ones. Green showed similar defensive strength and offensive ineptitude at small forward last year.
Most of our remaining information on Green is at power forward. And there, he hasn’t looked good.
His opponents have shot 43.6% from the field when Green is guarding them — slightly higher than league average. His other defensive figures are marginal, at best. Offensively, Green’s outside shooting has fallen off, down to 30% from 3-point land this season. He rarely earns trips to the free throw line and rarely creates opportunities for teammates.
Ostensibly, Danny Ainge claims the Celtics need to score more to win. It’s possible that green will be a good fit for Green, and that Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce and Doc Rivers can help his offense improve. Only, nothing about Green’s history suggests that he’s going to help too much on the offensive end.
A tip of the cap to Sam Presti for landing a physical defensive presence in exchange for a feeble one.*
*Perkins will be a free agent at season’s end, so the thinking is Boston wanted something in return instead of losing him to free agency. He also has an injury history that may make the move look good down the road.