Grading Boston Celtics Players at 2014 All-Star Break

Mike Walsh@WalshWritesCorrespondent IFebruary 14, 2014

Grading Boston Celtics Players at 2014 All-Star Break

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    Jared Sullinger has a solid A this season.
    Jared Sullinger has a solid A this season.Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

    The Boston Celtics' lone participants in All-Star weekend are Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, both taking part in the Rising Stars Challenge.

    This should come as little surprise for a team that is 19-35 at the break. As an overall team, the Celtics have to earn a pretty poor grade for being 16 games under .500. However, everything is viewed through a particular lens, and Boston is being graded on a rebuilding scale.

    With expectations different, the method of evaluation is also different. What we can learn from grades at this point will help explain what will or will not happen at the trade deadline and beyond.

    Let's hit the Bleacher Report classroom and hope nobody has to retake any tests.

Rajon Rondo

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    Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: A-

    Watching the Boston Celtics since Rajon Rondo's return has been a massive relief for the eyeballs of fans. He has brought back both intrigue and a competitive nature to the team which were often missing from the lineup.

    It took him some time to get his legs under him, and he will still be restricted as his stamina and conditioning work back to standard levels, but of late he has been scorching. Rondo has played in four of Boston's six February games and is averaging 14.5 points, 9.3 assists, 6.3 rebounds and two steals. All of that comes with a nifty 65.8 field-goal percentage and hitting 8-of-16 threes.

    Were those numbers coming from a larger sample, he very well could be playing this weekend with the other NBA stars.

    Until he is comfortable playing every day, and his coaching staff is comfortable using him, Rondo's grade will suffer slightly. However, those numbers are undeniable and it appears Rondo will be back to full A mode shortly.

Avery Bradley

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Grade: B+

    Despite having somewhat of a breakout season, particularly on the offensive end, one must be hesitant in giving Avery Bradley an A thus far.

    There were two or three major questions about him entering this season. The offensive question, wondering if Bradley can score efficiently enough to be a starting NBA shooting guard, has been answered very well by the 23-year-old.

    However, the other two, whether can he thrive opposite Rajon Rondo and can he stay stay healthy for a full season, remain questions.

    In Bradley's defense, he did manage 64-of-66 games during the lockout season, though he was a bit player for much of the year and got hurt during the postseason, missing the Eastern Conference Finals. Otherwise, Bradley hasn't been able to get a full season under his belt, and this recent set of ankle sprains has unfortunately coincided with Rondo's return.

    Fans will have to wait again to make an honest evaluation of a Bradley-Rondo backcourt as a long-term item.

    However, as a solo act, Bradley has proved plenty to warrant a starting NBA gig.

Jeff Green

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    Grade: C

    A lot of vitriol is sent in Jeff Green's direction. Admittedly, he isn't having a great season, so a fair amount of that is deserved.

    Would it surprise anyone to find out that Green has topped 20 points in consecutive games just once this season? That stat is as important as any in illustrating the frustrating inconsistencies of Green.

    Following his seemingly couldn't-miss, 29-point outburst against the Milwaukee Bucks this week, how predictable was the 4-of-17 game against the San Antonio Spurs two nights later? He went just 1-of-2 from the free-throw line in that game.

    Earlier in the month, Green bracketed a mammoth performance against the Philadelphia 76ers with a 2-of-13 game before and a 6-of-20 game after.

    Overall, Green is shooting just 41.6 percent on the season. Even that is thanks to a reasonably hot start. In January, he was at 38.6 percent, and since the month change, it has dropped further to 38.1 percent. Those are startling numbers and absolutely plummeting his trade value.

    If Green remains in Boston past next week, he'll have a lot to prove in order for the higher-ups to believe they can build around he, Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger.

Jared Sullinger

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    Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: A

    While Kelly Olynyk's inclusion in the weekend events may say more about the rookie class, Jared Sullinger has more than earned a chance to showcase his rapidly improving game in the Rising Stars Challenge.

    Sullinger had six consecutive double-doubles before a dud against the San Antonio Spurs and their talented frontcourt. That streak began after a string of questionable performances and an increasing inconsistency in his play.

    After a stern talking to by his father, Sullinger's play turned around, according to Jessica Camerato of BasketballInsiders.com:

    The conversation just started off – well, his conversation started off – and I was just saying, ‘Yes sir. Yes sir. Yes sir.’ I was kind of in shock. He was telling me my body language sucks, my attitude sucks, I’m disrespecting the Sullinger name the way I’m acting on and off the court, and when he says off the court he means on the bench.

    What he has shown in recent games is a more consistent and controlled version of the flashes seen earlier in the season. He'll continue to struggle against elite frontcourts, especially without a capable center next to him, but Sullinger has shown enough to warrant an A thus far.

Brandon Bass

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Grade: B

    Brandon Bass continues to produce for the Boston Celtics, however futile it sometimes seems.

    Despite his minutes being continually jerked around depending upon the play of others, Bass is a consistent source of 10-12 points and six rebounds when given 25-30 minutes. 

    Unfortunately, he still makes little sense to keep on this roster. At this point in his career, Bass is an established veteran, not a young player looking to improve. His position in the league and his own career doesn't totally jive with what the Celtics are trying to accomplish this season.

    If Bass truly enjoys the city and playing with teammates like Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger, then it is understandable for him to stay and wait out the rebuilding period. However, he must also realize that he could very much help a contender win games.

    Because he seems to be a loyal guy, it is tough to gauge how much he realizes that or would want a trade to happen.

    His $6.7 million contract, that bumps to $6.9 million next season, is hardly dead weight. However, with Sullinger and Olynyk improving every day as a potential future power forward tandem, it is money the Celtics could use elsewhere.

Gerald Wallace

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    Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press

    Grade: C

    Gerald Wallace has been remarkably consistent this season. Unfortunately, that consistency is remarkably mediocre.

    Wallace is overpaid at $10.3 million this year and each of the next two, which is common knowledge at this point. In six of his 53 games played, he has topped double-figures in points. For the most part he has been filling the stat sheet with rather minuscule totals.

    He is doing a bit of everything, key word is bit, averaging 4.8 points, 3.5 rebounds, 2.5 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He has consistently shot at or above 50 percent. All-in-all, Wallace has been a solid role player off the bench. He still has the ability to guard the perimeter well and gives maximum effort every time he is out there.

    That contract and the shadow of who he used to be are the major issues affecting the perception of Wallace at this point. He is also more suited to be an eighth or ninth man, but is playing a pseudo sixth man on this roster.

Kris Humphries

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    Brian Babineau/Getty Images

    Grade: B-

    The Kris Humphries redemption train has kept on chugging in Boston, right up until the All-Star break.

    The Boston Celtics reserve forward is still making a healthy $12 million this season, but has actually put in work to earn that money.

    Humphries' season averages of 7.6 points and 5.7 rebounds don't quite tell the story of his January. The 29-year-old averaged 9.9 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.5 blocks over 16 January games.

    That stretch was what helped him earn the trust of Brad Stevens and notoriety around the NBA as more than just an expiring contract. Humphries can definitely help a team, and now has a healthy sample size of quality minutes.

    Unfortunately, the list of teams that are able to take him on or match salaries is slim, making him a difficult piece to move.

    Still, the player deserves a ton of credit for rising from a DNP regular to start the season to a quality role-playing veteran.

Kelly Olynyk

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    Gary Dineen/Getty Images

    Grade: C+

    Kelly Olynyk should definitely be proud of his selection to participate in All-Star weekend as a part of the rookie-sophomore game.

    He has earned that recognition with a few high-profile performances to back up his late-lottery selection in the 2013 NBA draft. He has definitely suffered through some inconsistent lumps, and has occasionally lost minutes in a crowded frontcourt.

    However, every time one seems to get down on him, he can put together a quality performance, including back-to-back double-doubles heading into the break.

    Olynyk is definitely inching closer to a comfort level while on the floor and adjusting to where his teammates expect him to be. That can be a difficult thing to develop with Rajon Rondo and will be a major item to watch post-break.

    Since returning from injury, Olynyk has shown drastic improvement in his shot and gotten his field-goal percentage up to 43 percent. He has been north of 45 percent since the new year.

Jerryd Bayless

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: C-

    We're still only 16 games into Jerryd Bayless' stint with the Boston Celtics, so it is tough to rush to a grade.

    Thanks to a five-game break to heal from injury, we've missed valuable evaluation time. While Bayless was clearly brought to Boston as a salary-cutting move to shed Courtney Lee's deal, every capable player deserves a chance to earn their future spot in a rebuilding situation.

    Unfortunately, Bayless has done little to earn that spot since arriving. Obviously the injury didn't help, but he is also shooting just 39.6 percent since donning green.

    There have definitely been flashes, as Bayless has scored in double-figures in 8-of-16 games as a Celtic. When he is on, he is on. When he is off, he is really off. That is fine for the current Celtics, but Bayless has yet to earn long-term consideration from the Boston brass.

Phil Pressey

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    Nathaniel S. Butler/Getty Images

    Grade: C

    There is a definite opportunity for Phil Pressey to earn a real spot on the Boston Celtics roster over the next few weeks.

    The undrafted rookie will remain Rajon Rondo's backup and continue to see starts when Rondo is given his rest days. Unfortunately, serving as Rondo's backup leads to wildly irregular minute distributions, which is sometimes harmful to a developing young player.

    A lot of Pressey's development will be on the head of Brad Stevens. It would be very beneficial to the 22-year-old to at least get 10 or so minutes of run each night. Still, the majority of his potential lies in the hands of Phil Pressey.

    Whether he makes an NBA career out of this opportunity or not will depend on him.

Chris Johnson

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    Ned Dishman/Getty Images

    Grade: B

    Speaking of a player making a career out of a small opportunity, Chris Johnson has been a very impressive story for the Boston Celtics this year.

    Emerging from a pair of 10-day contracts, Johnson has become a regular contributor for Boston, even being used to finish some contests.

    In 12 games with the Celtics before the All-Star break, Johnson is averaging 7.1 points in 20.5 minutes. He is shooting 43.9 percent from the field, and 45 percent on 3.3 three-point attempts per game. He also hasn't missed a free throw yet.

    On top of those quality offensive clips, Johnson has been very active on the court. He plays hard and aggressive, which has allowed him to steal some minutes from Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace. 

    If he keeps up this effort level, Johnson is a low-cost solution for the Celtics and will get looks to remain in the league beyond this season.

The Rest

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    Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

    Vitor Faverani: C-

    Vitor Faverani is dealing with a knee injury right now, but has been racking up DNPs for some time. He has played in only eight of a possible 23 games since the turn of the year. After starting the season hot, Faverani rapidly boiled down to just being a big body at the end of the Celtics bench.

     

    Joel Anthony: C-

    Only playing in six of a possible 15 games since being traded to the Boston Celtics doesn't bode well for Joel Anthony's future with the team. He was moved to a team with a crowded frontcourt, in a deal in which his new team shed two guards. There wasn't much room for Anthony to begin with and none was cleared out in the trade. 

     

    Keith Bogans: I

    Without more information, Keith Bogans gets an incomplete. It is unclear his reasoning for leaving the team, so one can't feel comfortable failing him until the truth comes out, if it ever does.