Friday, December 19, 2014

Evaluating the Return for Rondo

Photo: Getty Images

As I’m sure you’ve heard, the Celtics finally pulled the trigger, trading Rajon Rondo to the Dallas Mavericks for Brandan Wright, Jae Crowder, Jameer Nelson, a future first, and a future second round pick. These are relatively unknown players, so let’s take a look at exactly what Danny Ainge got in return for the four-time all-star.

Brandan Wright is the best player right now of the group, and is playing the best basketball of his career at the age of 27. His contract runs out at the end of the year and he is a free agent. So far Wright is averaging 18.7 minutes per game off the bench playing behind Tyson Chandler. But Wright has been productive in his time off the bench, averaging 8 points, 4 rebounds in limited minutes. Wright’s greatest strengths come around the rim as an athletic 6’10 big man. 

His biggest strength is his ability to finish around the rim with authority, and he is shooting a league best 75-percent from the field this season. He runs the floor well and is on the receiving end of many alley-oops and put back dunks. After watching film of him, he certainly is a fun player to watch and has an incredible leaping ability and is not afraid to dunk on anyone. Defensively he is what Boston needs in a rim protector who's capable of blocking shots, averaging 1.6 blocks a game in his limited minutes. 

His weaknesses lie on the defensive end, as he lacks the build to defend stronger big men one-on-one. A weakness on offense; is he’s very limited outside of the paint and can’t stretch the floor with a jump shot. Wright could be very effective here in Boston if given the right role. If the Celtics try to make him into a primary offensive weapon, play him too much, or try to have him guard stronger big men for long periods of time, they could run into some trouble.

Photo: Getty Images

Jae Crowder is a tough wing defender with the ability to hit the corner three. Standing at 6’6, 235 pounds, Crowder is a strong, tough, wing defender with the flexibility to guard multiple positions. While he is far from a powerhouse offensive player, he is capable of hitting the mid-range jumper and shoots at a 34 percent clip from deep. Crowder’s best attribute however might be his toughness and motor he plays with. He can always be counted on to play his heart out and with a chip on his shoulder.  While still young, Crowder doesn’t have much upside to develop into a quality starter, he can certainly find a role as a reliable bench defender that plays with energy and the ability to knock down open shots. Crowder has an expiring contract as well, but he is a restricted free agent meaning the Celtics can match any contract offered to Crowder in the offseason.

Photo: Getty Images

Jameer Nelson, a veteran point guard who has little future in Boston. At 32 years old, he is past his prime and shouldn’t see too much time for the Celtics. One thing he can provide is a veteran presence and mentor to Marcus Smart. But don’t expect too much out of Nelson this year, as he was already having a very down year for the Mavericks. He could also be a part of separate deal moving forward.

Another asset the Celtics picked up was a future first round pick from Dallas. This pick is heavily protected. According to various outlets, the pick has a 1-3 and 15-30 protection on it this year, which means if Dallas somehow misses out on the playoffs this season, the pick will roll over to next year where it is top-7 protected.  Most likely this pick becomes a 2016 first round pick for the Celtics, giving them potentially four first round picks next year. That certainly gives the Celtics a lot of flexibility and assets to deal with to aid the rebuilding process.   

None of the newly acquired players are going to be big difference makers, and none of them are likely to be starters. But two of them are young guys who play hard and can be very effective if used correctly. In the end, look for the Celtics to most likely go into more of a rebuilding mode, but there are some upsides to the players received and another first rounder into the toolbox for Danny Ainge. There’s no doubt Rondo will be missed, but there is plenty of optimism to be found for the Celtics’ future.

Will Burke
Follow me on twitter @Will_nba33

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