After striking out on two buyout candidates — Andre Drummond and LaMarcus Aldridge — and with next week’s April 8 deadline looming, are the Boston Celtics running out of options or, is Brad Stevens in the midst of uncovering a diamond in the rough?
Luke Kornet, one of the Celtics’ newly acquired centers, is already making headway as one of the better go-to options for Stevens, off the bench, of late. Playing for no more than 13 minutes in each of his first two outings with the Celtics, Kornet is averaging 9 points, 4.5 rebounds while making a combined 4-of-7 of his 3-pointers, including a pair in each game.
It’s a small sample, no question. However, when you take into consideration what’s plagued Stevens’ second unit, all-year-long — outside of nagging injuries, health concerns, and consistency — Kornet’s production fills a void.
Brad Stevens On Luke Kornet: ‘He’s A Guy We’ve Always Had An Interest In’
But, one could say, Stevens, who’s known all about Kornet’s outside touch long before the Celtics traded for him last week, saw this coming and maybe, now, Kornet is Brad’s preferred option for the team’s final roster spot.
“Luke’s a guy that can shoot the ball,” Stevens said after Saturday’s win over the Thunder. “He’s always in good position, he’s long; he affects shots. He’s a guy we’ve always had an interest in because of those two things.”
Luke Kornet On Brad Stevens: ‘It’s Great When You Have A Coach That Kind Of Picks Up On The Nuances’
Still, Kornet’s only focus right now is making an immediate impact when his name is called while, of course, doing his best to blend in with his new teammates.
“I’m not necessarily really going after blocked shots or even after defensive rebounds but I’m just trying to make life harder and secure the ball for our team,” Kornet said after collecting five rebounds in 13 minutes against the Thunder. “So, it’s great when you have a coach that kind of picks up on the nuances of what you’re trying to do and appreciates it.”
Celtics’ Grant Williams, Luke Kornet Finding Range Off Brad Stevens’ Bench
The Celtics are shooting at a 46.9% clip from behind the arc, this season — which is good enough for 13th in the NBA, per Teamrakings.com. If Brad can find consistency in Kornet’s shot along with Grant Williams, who’s been emphasizing his 3-point touch, of late, it’ll solidify secondary scoring production and making life easier for starters like Jayson Tatum and Marcus Smart; who are, in spurts, often intertwined with Brad’s second unit.
Williams is connecting on 40.7% of his 3-pointers, this season — which is a significant jump in contrast to 2019-20; when he finished the year shooting at a 25% clip. Hence, why of late, while averaging 2.1 attempts all year-long, Grant’s taken two or more additional threes in four of his last five outings.
Throughout that span, he drained 5-of-13 of his 3-point attempts (38.4%). The Celtics continue their seven-game homestand against All-Star Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, Wednesday night at TD Garden.