· Administrator 12/02--7/07
With all the talk before deadline about what would we give up for PP, do we want PP, does Pax want PP, etc, I found this article interesting.
He is currently eighth on the Celtics’ all-time scoring list, 595 points behind seventh-place Bill Russell. He is more than halfway to John Havlicek at No. 1 in less than half the games Hondo played (53 percent of the points in 47 percent of the games).
He is 159 short of his fourth 2,000-point season, a feat accomplished only by Larry Bird in Shamrock history, and is second to Bird in career franchise per-game average, 24.3-23.4. And he’s far from through, having added four-tenths to his career average this season.
“Paul Pierce could end up being the best offensive player this team ever had,” Tommy Heinsohn said with equal amounts of boldness and backing. “And I’ve seen them all.”
A Hall of Famer himself after great careers as both a player and coach, Heinsohn isn’t just looking at the numbers, impressive as they may be. The Celts’ color commentator on FSN cablecasts has made a qualitative analysis as he’s watched Pierce improve his game dramatically over the last two seasons.
“I mean, he’s got an inside game, an outside game, a tweener game - everything,” Heinsohn said. “He’s beating double-teams, triple-teams. And he’s added a new dimension that’s making it easier: He’s got them guessing. He’s making the passes now. When he’s reading the defense, that helps him. He can get the shots he wants instead of having to force the shots.”
Heinsohn is aware that floating such a grand concept of Pierce will cause him to hear some legendary names in rebuttal, but in that he owns the sixth-best average in team history (18.6) and has the eighth-most rebounds, he’s standing on firm Green ground as he speaks.
“Oh, Larry Bird was a great player,” Heinsohn said. “No one would ever dispute that. But this kid’s going to blow by everybody. I mean, if he plays a significant number of years, he’ll be right up there in career numbers. If we’re talking offense, he can do this stuff every night with this ballclub.
“Bird and Havlicek are up there, and Sam Jones was a great offensive player, too - a great shooter. But he didn’t have the repertoire Paul has. You also have to say the Celtics were doing different things as a team back then. (Bill) Sharman was a great shooter, but a one-dimensional jump shooter behind picks and all that stuff.
“Even Bird, one-on-one, was not as good as this kid. Sam Jones might have been decent one-on-one. Havlicek was a pretty decent one-on-one player. I just think Paul has a chance to be better than all of them when it comes to offense and the total offensive game.”
It’s not like Heinsohn was thinking along these lines a few years ago when Pierce was firing away in Jim O’Brien’s offense and the nice regular-season numbers were lost when New Jersey began throwing extra defenders at him in the postseason. Pierce’s new game can challenge such strategies.
“His ability to pass the ball and read the defense and get other people involved has thwarted any real moves to play defense solely against him,” Heinsohn said.
“And I think he’s having more fun playing the game this way now, which means he’s going to do it more. See, what he’s doing now is playing basketball, not just scoring. And he’s what he wanted to be two years ago, which is a leader. So he’s having the most fun he’s ever had playing basketball right now.”
And now Heinsohn’s having some fun comparing Pierce to the others in the Celtics pantheon.