Will Jermaine O’Neal make the Celtics better?
It’s something you don’t see every offseason: Jermaine O’Neal had one of the worst playoff series in recent memory when the Heat met the Boston Celtics in the first round of last year’s playoffs, going a combined 9-44 from the field in five playoff games. Then, after the Celtics learned Kendrick Perkins will need surgery and the Heat went on a spending spree, O’Neal ended up signing a two-year deal worth approximately $12 million with the very team that shut him down last April.
On the surface, O’Neal appears to be a downgrade from Kendrick Perkins, but Zach Lowe of Celtics Hub is optimistic about what O’Neal will bring to the Celtics:
The Celtics are essentially trading the most turnover-prone center in the league for the least turnover-prone center in the league.
Among 27 centers who played at least 1,000 minutes last season, only one--Tyson Chandler--turned the ball over on a higher percentage of possessions than Perk, according to Basketball-Reference. Perk turned the ball over on 20.4 percent of possessions on which he was involved with the play that ended the possession, an unacceptable mark for a point guard, let alone a center.
The scary thing? That turnover rate was the lowest of Perk’s career...
[O’Neal] attempted about 60 percent of his shots last season from outside 10 feet, and he made those shots at a career-best rate. For instance: O’Neal made about 44 percent of his shots from between 16 and 23 feet (i.e. long two-pointers), one of the best marks in the league among centers or power forwards, according to Hoopdata. Perspective: KG, one of the very best big man shooters ever, hit 46 percent from that range last season; Ray Allen hit 45 percent.
O’Neal knocked down exactly 40 percent of his shots from that range in both ’08 and ’09, so while 44 percent is his career high, it’s not wildly out of line.