Shavlik Randolph does all the little things for the Boston Celtics.
Although these things don’t always show up on the stat sheet, they’re enough to assume that the 29-year-old NBA journeyman might have finally found a home.
On March 21, it became a reality when the Celtics announced the signing of Randolph to a multi-year contract. As per team policy, the exact terms of the deal weren’t disclosed. However, one can speculate that the agreement includes some sort of team option for next season.
It all begs the question: Does Boston bring back Randolph?
Going off initial expectations, probably not.
In 28 games for the Chinese Basketball Association’s Foshan Long Lions, Randolph averaged 32 points, 14.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists, 1.7 steals and 1.1 blocks in 36.5 minutes per game. He also shot 53.1 percent from the field.
Through 15 games for the Celtics, Randolph is averaging just 4.1 points, 4.4 rebounds and 0.5 blocks over 12.3 minutes per game. He’s also shooting 59.1 percent from the floor.
While Randolph’s current play certainly pales in comparison to his performance overseas, expecting his dominance in the CBA to carry into the NBA is foolish. That’s like believing you can play the guitar because you beat Guitar Hero on expert difficulty.
With Randolph, there’s certainly more than meets the eye. It’s what makes him an asset Boston would be wise to keep around.
Budding Offensive Weapon
If China has taught us anything about Randolph, it’s that he has a knack for scoring.
Already this season, the 6’10” forward has shown glimpses of such.
During a five-game stretch from March 29 to April 5, Randolph averaged 8.6 points per game over 16.8 minutes per game. He also shot 17-of-23 (73.9 percent) from the field. That includes the April 5 matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers, where Randolph poured in 16 points on 6-of-9 shooting in only 13 minutes.
Furthermore, when he’s on the court, the Celtics offense only seems to improve.
Since March 1, in 924 minutes with Randolph on the bench, Boston has shot 47.4 percent from the floor while averaging 96 points per game. The team has also posted an offensive rating of 101.2.
In 185 minutes with him on the court, the Celtics have shot 51 percent from the field while averaging 103.3 points per game. They also register an offensive rating of 110.7.
Sure, it’s a small sample. However, there’s no denying that Boston’s offense has looked better with Randolph on the court and will only get better with time.
Hopefully, head coach Doc Rivers has taken note.
Getting Down and Dirty
If there was one major weakness that was hampering the Celtics this season, it was their poor play inside the paint.
It was an aspect the team struggled with across the board. Boston ranked in the bottom 10 of the league in points in the paint (27th), opponent points in the paint (21st), offensive rebounding (30th), total rebounding (29th) and second-chance points (30th).
Luckily, Randolph offers the team a solution to many of these issues.
When he’s on the bench, the Celtics have averaged 6.4 offensive rebounds and 8.6 second-chance points per game. They’ve also allowed opponents 11.7 offensive rebounds, 43.8 total rebounds and 45.2 points in the paint per game.
On the other hand, when Randolph is on the court, Boston has averaged 9.8 offensive rebounds and 16.8 second-chance points per game. The team has also held opponents to 10.6 offensive rebounds, 36.8 total rebounds and 37.3 points in the paint per game.
Randolph never seems to give up on a possession, fighting for each rebound like it’s the final minute of the game. He has essentially picked up where the injured Jared Sullinger left off.
And just like Sullinger, Randolph has done his best to ensure that no opponent gets an easy pass into the paint.
In a short time, Randolph has already jumped up to sixth on the team in charges taken. He has drawn seven in just 15 games.
Randolph’s contributions to the category have been vital to the Celtics in the absences of Rajon Rondo (19 charges drawn in 38 games) and Sullinger (15 charges drawn in 45 games). Paul Pierce leads the team with 22.
Without Randolph, Boston’s interior presence would be even slimmer.
Not to mention, his hustle is a characteristic rarely seen in the league these days.
Summing It All Up
He has found teammates who love to play with him, a coach who is willing to trust him and a city that has quickly gotten behind him. But most importantly, he has found somewhere he can finally call home.
With Boston entering the postseason as an underdog—the No. 7 seed matched up with the No. 2 seed New York Knicks—Randolph has a chance to etch his name into Celtics lore.
Will he prove to be another disappointing mid-season pickup? Or can he be an essential piece coming off the bench?
We’ll soon find out.
All advanced stats used in this article are courtesy of NBA.com’s Media Central (subscription required)
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