Jason Collins Signs With Boston Celtics, Is Somehow Still In The NBA

After posting his most productive season since the 2005-06 campaign with the New Jersey Nets, Jason Collins signed a one-year deal with the Boston Celtics this offseason. However, what you have to realize when discussing Collins is that the word ‘production’ takes on a different meaning when it is attached to him.

So when you look over Collins’ 2011-2012 stats, don’t expect to find a player who bounced back from recent struggles and managed to post eye popping, awe-inducing numbers. Instead, you’ll most likely find a chuckle-inducing stat sheet which will make you question how Collins continues to find a way to stick around the NBA.

However, to be fair to to Collins, the Atlanta Hawks didn’t sign him to do much. Which is convenient, because that is exactly what he did. He worked hard to come back from a torn elbow ligament he suffered midseason, and came back a much better shooter. Posting a 46% shooting percentage after his return, compared to the measly 31% he posted before his injury (it would be rude to ridicule that 31% however, as that is exactly what Collins shot in 2008 with the Minnesota Timberwolves).

If you wanted to go into the numbers (which I HIGHLY doubt Collins would want us to do), you can see just how ineffective he has been over the past five seasons. In the last five seasons combined (three with the Hawks, one with the Timberwolves, and one spent between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Nets), Collins has contributed 0.6 win shares, combined. That means that in the last five seasons, Collins has contributed a little over half of one win, which coincidentally is how much value Collins adds every single game where he doesn’t play.

In comparison, the man whose roster spot that Collins is looking to fill, Greg Stiemsma contributed 0.6 win shares in 19 playoff games last season, to go along with 2.7 win shares in the regular season. That is a pretty strong contribution from a rookie, especially on the defensive end, so you would think that the Celtics would make an attempt to sign a similar shot-blocking center to replace  Stiemsma, right?

Well, Collins has never been known for his shot blocking before and never was that more evident than when I compared Collins’ shotblocking numbers to Stiemsma’s. Just how big was the disparity between the two though?

Steimsma had twice as many blocks in his NBA-debut in 20 minutes (six) than Jason Collins had last season (three) in 308 minutes. In fact, to match the 85 blocks Stiemsma had last season in 55 games, you’d have to combine Collins’ blocks from 2006-07 until last season (2011-2012). In those six seasons, Collins had 90 blocks total in 288 games.

But Collins has never been known for his defense, so it must be his offense which the Celtics were interested in. After all, I said earlier that Collins posted his most productive season since 2005-06, didn’t I? It is true, last season was the first time in seven years that Collins recorded more points than personal fouls, a great achievement indeed, and I am guessing that was the stat that really caught the Celtics eye and was the deciding factor behind their contract offer.

Or at least that is what I thought until it hit me… The Celtics don’t need Collins to contribute on the court, they prize his inside knowledge of the Hawks much more than they covet his ability to shake things up when he hits the court (literally… Have you ever seen Collins fall? The whole court vibrates when he goes down).

The Celtics and Hawks have faced each other twice within the last five years and another meeting between the teams this year is not out of the question. By signing Collins, the Celtics now have a former enemy scout on their roster who can enlighten the team to the strategy the Hawks will be most likely employ.

From Zaza Pachulia‘s favorite cologne (he doesn’t have one, he is au natural), Al Horford‘s favorite player to play against (Jason Collins, incidentally) to Josh Smith‘s favorite spot on the court (one step in from the three-point line), and even Coach Larry Drew‘s favorite end-of-game play to draw-up (don’t let Josh touch the ball near the three point line), the Celtics now have a plethora of information to use against the Hawks next year in regular season and playoff matchups.

This is one situation where the stats don’t tell the whole story of a player, and the Celtics may have found their secret weapon for next season. If I were Paul Pierce, i’d watch out for Jason Collins. He may want to play a game of H-O-R-S-E for the #34 jersey, and I heard that he is pretty good at making layups sometimes.

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