The Juancho Hernangomez trade was somewhat of a blockbuster for a Friday afternoon in September, as it was the only recent trade to have any sort of impact. The Celtics made this deal for two main reasons.
Firstly, the roster had too many players. This move brought the Celtics down to the fifteen player minimum. It doesn’t get them under the luxury tax but it does provide them with a player that will actually play. Fans have been relentless about moving away from Carsen Edwards for some time now, and frankly it was time to move on.
The more important reason is of course what he has done on the court and could do with the Celtics. Many fans got excited seeing some of Juancho’s stats. You might see see 42% from three and over 12 points a game on his resume and get excited. Both stats are very good, but out of context. Hernangomez is the epitome of streaky for his career shooting numbers. Last year, he shot a below average 33%. The year before he shot 42% in his 14 games in Minnesota and 25% in his 34 games in Denver. In seasons before that, starting from his rookie season he shot 41%, 28%, 37%, and 34%. Judging from that data, it is rather difficult to tell what the Celtics may be getting.
This isn’t to say Hernangomez can’t be a productive player. He definitely can, but he does need the proper tools around him. He almost exclusively shoots either at the rim or behind the arc, and almost always needs to be assisted. That’s not a bad thing as the Celtics have two players very skilled at creating their own shot. What Hernangomez could provide is relief positioning for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown. Regardless of his streakiness, it’s clear he has no problem attempting shots, placing him in the corner or as a trailer in transition can bring defenders just far enough away to make some legitimate space in the lane.
The overall goal with Hernangomez is to have options. The Celtics have two main cogs in their front court with Al Horford and Rob Williams III, and then from there it’s a bit more open. The rotation of Jabari Parker, Hernangomez, and Enes Kanter will be one to keep track of as the season progresses. It looks like Brad wants to give his new coach, Ime Udoka, a variety of different players with different skill sets to work with from night to night. This isn’t a bad idea, but will take some good coaching to manage consistency.
The last point with all of these moves is that Brad knew the roster needed changes. He knew that something needed to be done and he is willing to take chances on trying some new things.
Photo: (Chris Nicoll – USA Today Sports)
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