Sharpshooting 7-Footer Listed as TPE Target for Celtics


Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics

Shoot with size has been the mantra of the Boston Celtics ever since Brad Stevens took on the role of President of Basketball Operations.

It’s clear that Stevens and Ime Udoka have a vision for their team and are working to make it a reality. With that in mind, CelticsBlog’s Keith Smith recently posited the idea of ​​Lauri Markkanen as a potential TPE candidate who would ensure Boston continued to grow bigger without losing ground clearance or offensive power.

“If the goal is to shoot with size, you can’t get much bigger than Markkanen for a shooter. He would be a different kind of 3/4, but he held up well playing the three for the Cavs last season. He should be able to repeat that with even better defense off the bench in about 25 minutes a game,” Smith wrote in his June 27 article.

After two stagnant seasons with the Chicago Bulls, Markkanen has rebuilt his reputation and value with the Cleveland Cavaliers thanks to some outstanding shooting and defensive performances alongside generational talent Evan Mobley and impressive rim runner Jarrett Allen.

What does Markkanen add to the Celtics?

Markkanen has rediscovered himself in Cleveland, proving he can be a tertiary goalscorer alongside the likes of Darius Garland and Mobley, while also showing he’s a capable defender when dealing with the team’s plans.

During the 2021-22 NBA season, the six-foot-tall man averaged 14.8 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game on 35.8% shots from deep and 44.5% shots from the field. That kind of goal-scoring ability, coupled with his size, would certainly improve Boston’s bench unit, which is prone to stagnation when trying to attack half-court defense.

According to the Basketball Index, Markkanen divides his main defensive duties between guarding slashers, primary ball handlers and second ball handlers, with his core role being to improve them on stationary shooters. So it stands to reason that we can’t expect Markkanen to be exceptional at navigating perimeter screens, but his size and length should allow him to transition to small Sentinels provided he has the space to stay ahead of them.

Markkanen may not be the unicorn forward many believed he could be after impressing as a rookie, but he’s certainly showing his ability to be a viable rotation player in a competitive team .

The clock is ticking

Trade exceptions are a wonderful thing that, when used properly, can offer exceptional value in rostering. However, nothing lasts forever, not even TPEs that have a 12 month expiration date built in.

Boston’s largest trade exemption currently stands at $17.2 million and expires on July 18 and not a day later. As such, the clock is ticking for Stevens and the Celtics front office if they wish to use such a significant trading chip.

Of course, it is highly unlikely that the Celtics are acting solely for their own sake and so there is a real risk that the exemption will go unused as we near its expiry date. Luckily, there are plenty of teams looking to improve their roster this off-season, and the chance to develop their own TPE might prove too good to pass up.

With free agency officially starting on June 30th, we don’t have to wait long for the free agency fireworks to start in earnest.

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