When the Celtics are on, I’m watching. I’m all in for the team in green. Boston realistically has a chance to win the title this year but the narrative is “they need to find an upgrade at center”. I think there’s some truth to that and some fiction to that. No, they shouldn’t blow up the roster to grab a guy like Steven Adams. That would be idiotic. Do they need to upgrade somehow? For sure. The truth of the matter is, the Daniel Theis and Enes Kanter duo is most likely going to be the group that Boston goes into the postseason with. If the Celtics are going to win a championship, Daniel Theis has to be on his A-game.
Let’s try to break this down. Instead of focusing solely on Theis’ performance, it’s probably smarter to see how he stacks up to the rest of the league. Not just the rest of the league either. Just the teams that they may face when it counts.
Brook Lopez: 10.1 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, effective field goal % 49.5, 13.9 PER
Marc Gasol: 7.8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists, effective field goal % 53.2, 12.2 PER
Daniel Theis: 8.2 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.6 assists, effective field goal % 57.7, 17.3 PER
Joel Embiid: 23.4 points, 12.3 rebounds, 3.2 assists, effective field goal % 51.5, 25.5 PER
Myles Turner: 12.1 points, 6 rebounds, 1.2 assists, effective field goal % 52.1, 14.7 PER
Theis isn’t regarded as a respectable center in the league. Maybe it’s time to view him that way. He is shooting better than every single one of them. Theis is a threat from 3 and really helps stretch the floor for Boston. How big of an upgrade would Myles Turner be? Are we sure Marc Gasol is even an upgrade? Embiid is really the only top tier outlier among the group.
Guys like Embiid are the concern for Boston. We have seen stretches where Embiid torches Theis down low. The Celtics post a defensive rating of 103.4 with Theis on the floor. That would rank 2nd among all teams. What’s scary is that the Celtics defensive rating is even better with Enes Kanter or Grant Williams anchoring the 5 spot. Maybe some of that is Stevens. Maybe some of Theis’ defensive struggles are overblown?
That brings me to 3 separate points. The Celtics can win a championship with Theis as their primary center. The biggest reason is because of the guy who comes off the bench, Enes Kanter. What Kanter has done for the Celtics is something Al Horford could not. Elite rebounding and low post scoring.
Kanter has been perfect for Boston. Did you know Enes Kanter has the 14th highest PER in the league right now? He’s doing that in limited minutes. Kanter is shooting 60.2 percent from the floor and grabbing 8.2 rebounds in 18 minutes a night. This is one of the elite rebounders in the sport. Kanter also sports a +/- of 5.6. He sparks the 2nd unit. How many teams are throwing that guy out there from the bench?
We also have to think about Marcus Smart. He’s been heroic on the defensive end all season. Boston is the ultimate switch everything defense. There are maybe 3 guards in the league who can guard centers on a nightly basis and do a hell of a job. Does Boston have to invest in a center when they have someone like Smart?
Finally, don’t forget about Grant Williams. Danny Ainge has spent years trying to find his Draymond Green. What if Grant Williams is that guy? Minus the whole personality thing. It’s something to consider. Golden State won those championships with the death lineup. What if Williams is that guy?