Brad Stevens saved the Boston Celtics a significant amount of cash with his move to trade former All-Star Kemba Walker to the Oklahoma City Thunder this week. Unfortunately, the deal has left the Celtics with a pretty big hole at point guard.
Walker may have been an odd fit in Boston at times, but his production will be missed. Over his two-year run with the team, Walker put up 19.9 points, 4.8 assists and 3.9 rebounds per contest while knocking down 37.2% of his three-point shots.
His game-to-game availability was a major problem for the Cs in 2020-21, but when he was on the floor he was usually putting up big numbers.
Finding a new floor general who can score as heavily as Walker did while acting as the third banana to Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown could be exceedingly difficult. However, the Celtics may be better served bringing somebody in who defends and makes his teammates better with his passing.
To that end, a noted Celtics insider has a suggestion for who Stevens ought to pursue.
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Goodman: Go After Lonzo Ball, Brad
Stadium’s Jeff Goodman appeared on the Greg Hill Show on WEEI this week and gave his take on the Celtics’ point guard situation. His candidate to replace Walker is a former No. 2 overall pick whose best years are still ahead of him.
“A guy that I still say I would go after, and you guys might think I’m crazy here, but you surround him with enough guys who can score the ball — go after Lonzo Ball,” Goodman said, via WEEI.
Goodman subsequently broke down the positive aspects of Ball’s game. He conceded that the 23-year-old hasn’t been a consistent shooting threat, but clearly believes that the Celtics could combat that by adding more shooters around him.
“I mean he’s an elite-level passer. He can guard. His shot has gotten better. I don’t know what he’s going to command on the market. He’s a restricted free agent. But that’s somebody I would absolutely look at. Knows how to play the game. And I know the Ball family … I love Lonzo. As a kid. Everything about Lonzo I love other than the fact that he’s not a great shooter. But you put him with guys who can shoot the ball, and that’s what you’re going to have to do if you’re Brad Stevens.”
In the end, Goodman wasn’t sure the Celtics would be able to get the requisite shooting support. He was also unsure about the financial aspect of acquiring Ball, who will be in high demand this offseason. Still, he believes Ball would be a big help in Beantown.
“He just makes people better and they haven’t had that for a while.”
The one hitch in Goodman’s Lonzo-to-Boston idea — the Ball Family’s controversial patriarch, LaVar.
“I don’t need to see him,” Goodman said. “I don’t need to see Lavar around Boston. Forget everything. Strike everything I just said. Forget about it. I love Lonzo, but, yeah, I don’t need to deal with LaVar.”
Lonzo at a Glance
Although he was limited to 55 games in 2020-21, Ball’s latest campaign definitely represents the best of his young NBA career. Ball averaged a career-high 14.6 points per contest while adding 5.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals per contest.
As Goodman assessed, shooting has long been Ball’s bugbear in the pro game. However, he has incrementally improved his three-point percentage every year he has been in the league. This past season, he connected on a healthy 37.8% of his 8.3 long-range attempts per game.
He is also finishing better close to the basket, converting on 62.6% of his shot attempts within three feet of the hoop.
When Ball was on the floor for the Pelicans in ’20-21, they scored 114.2 points per 100 possessions. That was the third-best mark on the team and was better than that of Zion Williamson.