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Just The Sports: Boston Celtics Trade Recap: The Celtics Are Now Weaker At Center

Just The Sports

Friday, February 25, 2011

Boston Celtics Trade Recap: The Celtics Are Now Weaker At Center

If the purpose of trades in sports is to make a team better, then the Boston Celtics failed in that mission with the trades that sent away centers Kendrick Perkins and Semih Erden and brought back center Nenad Krstic. By making those trades, the Celtics weakened what was already their weakest position.

It is on defense, which is the main reason why the Celtics have the best record in the Eastern Conference, where the Celtics will regret their trades the most. Although the Celtics were leading the league in defensive rating, giving up only 99.9 points per 100 possessions, they were not a perfect defensive team and needed to improve in one area: rebounding.

For the season, the Celtics were allowing opponents a higher offensive rebounding percentage than their own, meaning that defensive rebounding was key to making an already stingy defense stingier and ensuring the team continued to have great success; Celtics' opponents were rebounding 25.2 percent of their misses while the Celtics were rebounding 21.6 percent of theirs.

Perkins, in the 12 games in which he had appeared for the Celtics this season, was already starting to correct the Celtics' defensive rebounding woes with a 27.7 defensive rebounding percentage. It is unlikely he would have been able to maintain that, but even with a regression to his career 22.2 defensive rebounding percentage, he would still be a much better defensive rebounder than Krstic.

Krstic has a 14.6 defensive rebounding percentage this season, and a 16.5 defensive rebounding percentage for his career so he is a far inferior defensive rebounder than Perkins, meaning the Celtics are going to get worse in an aspect of the game in which they were already poor.

Even Erden, in only his rookie season and limited time, has a 16.8 defensive rebounding percentage so he is also better than Krstic in the defensive rebounding department.

Both Perkins and Erden also have the advantage over Krstic when it comes to blocking opponents' shots. Perkins' amazing 5.0 career block percentage and Erden's impressive 3.1 block percentage are higher than Krstic's 2.2 career block percentage.

Moreover, Krstic's 1.2 block percentage this season demonstrates he is not even as good a shot blocker now as he used to be. Add that to the fact his defensive rebounding percentage has decreased every season starting with the 2007-08 season and the Celtics are going to be a lot more porous on defense. To make up for Krstic's shot blocking and defensive rebounding inadequacies, the Celtics will now have to rely wholly on the unreliable health of Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal.

Krstic does hold an advantage on the offensive side of the ball, but his edge in offense does not make up for how poor he is on defense, decreasing his overall value. This season is a prime example of that.

Krstic produced 111 points per 100 possessions before being traded to the Celtics, a better offensive rating than both Perkins' 97 points produced per 100 possessions and Erden's 107 points produced per 100 possessions. Yet, Krstic's 0.092 win shares per 48 minutes is barely better than Perkins' 0.090 win shares per 48 minutes and lower than Erden's 0.131 win shares per 48 minutes.

Also, the only reason why Krstic is contributing more win shares per 48 minutes than Perkins is because Perkins has not shot the ball well in his first 12 games coming off his knee injury. Since his 56.8 true shooting percentage is below his career 58.4 true shooting percentage, it is highly likely he will play better on offense going forward and be more valuable at the end of the season than Krstic.

It simply does not make sense to trade away two players to bring in an inferior one, especially when one of them is such a promising rookie. Erden is having a rare rookie season where his offensive rating is higher than his defensive rating (99 points allowed per 100 possessions). Those kinds of rookies should never be given up, and they should especially not be given up for a measly second-round draft pick.

Even if NBA D-League call-up Chris Johnson, who has promising D-League statistics especially in the shot blocking department, plays well, that is no reason one should have so cavalierly traded away a player like Erden. Also, they would not have needed Johnson's shot blocking if they had just kept Perkins.

Due to the inexplicable trades the Celtics made, they have no choice but to go out and sign Troy Murphy, which had better be a done deal. Murphy has a higher career 24.7 defensive rebounding percentage than Perkins, and has been a better overall player so acquiring him would go a long way in making general manager Danny Ainge's latest moves look less incompetent. If the Celtics are unable to come to terms with Murphy, then they have weakened the team unnecessarily with unnecessary trades.

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