Celtics Player Power Rankings - All-Star Break Edition


Required explainer: The days of being a championship contender came to an abrupt halt this summer when the Celtics parted ways with Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. In the aftermath comes a transitional year in which the team is looking to build up the value of each of its players. With this in mind, all season long we’ll be judging the players in terms of value in The Improper’s Celtics Player Power Rankings. The healthy players will be judged based upon their on-court performance, while also keeping in mind their age, contract and appeal to another team in a possible trade. Check out the previous rankings here. Here’s the pre-trade deadline edition:

1. Rajon Rondo – As Rondo gets healthier and closer to his old self, the rumors surrounding him have tended to get better. A package from the Kings of McLemore, Isaiah Thomas and two first-rounders sounds intriguing. But if Rondo is going to be traded, it’s more likely to be on draft day, when the Kings and Lakers might be looking for a PG and the Celtics—if they have a top 3 pick—might be fully committed to rebuilding around an under-20 stud. Or it could be as part of a package for Russell Westbrook if his return to Oklahoma City goes poorly, forcing the Thunder to seek more of a passing point guard to put next to Kevin Durant. He will be either traded for a package of picks and a young player in late June or he’ll be part of an overhauled team come July.

2. Jared Sullinger – At the start of the year, you could have had a legitimate debate about who the second-most valuable player on the Celtics was. That’s no longer the case. Whether it was from gaining more NBA experience, or thanks to a pep talk about effort from his father, Sullinger has brought consistency to the court for the past month. With that, his numbers have improved, but questions remain: Is it the Dino Radja Effect (i.e. somebody has to put up numbers on a bad team), and could his effort slip again? For those reasons, he might end up being the centerpiece of a summer trade for a proven superstar. But for now, just entertaining that type of conversation shows he’s on the right track.

3. Avery Bradley – He’s a restricted free agent at the end of the year, but with injury issues (his ankles) always popping up, it could hurt his value. There’s no denying what a force he can be when healthy, even more so when he’s playing next to Rondo, but his health has always been a big question.

4. Jeff Green – He’s had a couple of 8-point games lately, but in his last dozen games before the All-Star break he had three games in which he scored more than 29 points. Complaints about his inconsistency and his passive play are legitimate, but he’s still a good guy to give the ball to when the game’s on the line. Reports that the Celtics would need to “dump” his salary on someone are stretching the truth. At $9 million per year, he’s not a value but he still provides production that’s in line with his veteran salary.

5. Kelly Olynyk – The rookie is the best bet to climb these rankings in the second half of the season. He had double-doubles in his last two games before the All-Star break, and he’s looked the most comfortable during February than he has at any point in his short NBA career. His starting spot in the Rising Stars Challenge might not raise as many eyebrows in retrospect.

6. Phil Pressey – It’s hard to believe it’s come so quickly, but we’ve now entered the part of the rankings in which the player is worth no more than a second-round pick in return (and teams buy second-round picks every year for less than it takes to buy a starter house in Needham). Pressey has shown flashes of skill, and he’s certainly a bargain on his salary, but his upside is a serviceable backup point guard.

7. Brandon Bass – The Celtics’ big man has been rumored in a few deals this year, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone if he was traded before the deadline. He’s a consistent contributor and a great guy in the locker room, but he’s not going to play crunch-time minutes for a championship contender. That makes next year’s $7 million price tag one the Celtics would be wise to get themselves out from under. It’s not onerous, but he’s not worth it.

8. Kris Humphries – He’s making $12 million this year, but his contract expires at the end of the year. For some team with a similar, yet less productive expiring contract player (Phoenix with Emeka Okafor; Charlotte with Ben Gordon), Humphries might be worth flipping a second-round pick to the Celtics to upgrade. But the Celtics really have no reason to make this trade as long as Humphries is playing the good-soldier role in the locker room.

9. Jerryd Bayless – The player the Celtics received for Courtney Lee is a free-agent-to-be and cannot be combined with another player in a trade. That hasn’t stopped his name from coming up in trade rumors. Much like with Humphries, since the price would likely being a low-value second-round pick, it’s hard to see any motivation for the Celtics to trade him.

10. Chris Johnson – Any team could’ve signed him to contract at the start of 2014, but the Celtics made the move, eventually inking him to a long-term nonguaranteed low-risk deal that could be combined with other nonguaranteed deals (see Keith Bogans) to bring in a veteran. He’s been great when given a chance, but there isn’t much long-term value. While people probably said that about Jeremy Lin, they also said that about Vander Blue …

11. Vitor Faverani – The Brazilian center’s three-year, $2 million contract is not worth it. The Celtics had to dump salary in order to sign Faverani and still stay under the luxury tax. They were taking a risk, and the project simply hasn’t turned into anything worthwhile.

12. Keith Bogans – Dear Keith: Stay home. You signed for $5 million a year (about $3.8 million more than you otherwise were worth) and spoke about being a veteran leader, but you couldn’t handle being relegated to the bench every day so you were sent home. You will be cut before mid-July, so hang tight for the next four months.

13. Joel Anthony – It’s still hard to see Anthony declining his $3.8 million player option for next year, but he’s seen how Bogans dealt with not playing, and he’s seen what life on the bench for a struggling team is like, so maybe he’ll opt out and try to sign a one-year $2 million deal elsewhere. Or maybe the Celtics will buy him out for about $2 million? It’s hard to see how taking on his contract was worth what will likely be three second-round picks.

14. Gerald Wallace – Crash finished second in Grantland’s 30 worst NBA contracts, but that’s being a little harsh. Not because he still has something left in the tank, but because he only has two years left on his contract. The four-year deals signed last offseason are likely more onerous than Wallace’s.

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