With the most exciting moments of the offseason behind us, Celtics Town is counting down the Celtics’ roster from 16 to one. We’ll offer speculation on the role each player has to play, and where they’ll be in the rotation as we look towards the upcoming season. If you missed the last column in this series you can check it out here.
Collins goes directly against most of what I said last time on the countdown about how important it was to be able to play multiple positions, but when you’re a seven-foot tall veteran exceptions are made (I mean come on, Ryan Hollins made the rotation last year). Collins is probably the only true center on the roster besides Fab Melo, and that alone should be enough to keep him active on the majority of nights. Collins isn’t going to offer much on the offensive end of the court (he’s averaged 1.3 ppg for his career) or with rebounding (1.6), but he’s a solid defender and that should be more than enough for him to snag the 13th spot on our Roster Countdown.
Now Collins has been billed as a Dwight Howard stopper for his work on Howard in the 2010 and 2011 playoffs. Howard probably won’t be in the Eastern Conference by the time the playoffs roll around, though, since Houston and the Lakers being his most likely suitors. If “Superman” does end up in the Western Conference I guess Collins can use his talents on Roy Hibbert? (Or Andrew Bynum if he ends up on the Cavaliers). Before we get too ahead of ourselves, though, I want to do a little debunking on Collins as a so-called Dwight-stopper. In the eight playoff games where they have faced off against each other Dwight Howard has averaged a paltry 27 points. His playoff average over the same period of time is 23. That doesn’t sound like a stopper at all. I checked every stat I could think of and it doesn’t appear Collins stopped Dwight much at all. Dwight averaged more rebounds per game (15.3 vs. 13.3) and shot a higher field goal percentage (67% vs. 62%) against Collins than he did normally during the playoffs over that same time period. I tried fouls too, Dwight stayed pretty constant at 4.1 per game regardless of Collins. Obviously Collins wasn’t the only person guarding Howard during that time period but I don’t think we can consider him to be a “Dwight Howard stopper.” It might be more accurate to say, Collins is competent enough to defend Dwight Howard without getting absolutely decimated, but that doesn’t have as nice a ring to it.
I don’t want to sell Collins short though — for his career, he has a very solid 103 Defensive Rating. Defensive rating measures the number of points allowed by their team per 100 possessions while the player is on the floor. To give you an idea of what a “good” defensive rating is, Kevin Garnett has a career 99 defensive rating and Dwight Howard has a career 98. Collins’ 103 defensive rating isn’t overwhelmingly awesome on its own, but if the Celtics could turn Hollins (who has a career 111 defensive rating, bad) into a 102 during his time with the team, then it’s not unreasonable to expect that Collins will show some improvement as well.
Stats aside, Collins passes the eye-test for me because every time he’s stepped onto the court against the Celtics the past few years I’ve groaned and started fidgeting in my chair a bit. Collins is an irritant whenever he steps on the court because he’s a solid seven-foot, 255 pound defensive center who isn’t liable to do anything dumb, and plays his role very well. His veteran presence is a welcome addition to the Celtics bench and he should fill in nicely if someone gets injured or finds themselves in foul trouble. For their third string (fourth string?) center, the Celtics could do a lot worse.
You can follow Jordan on Twitter, @OffensiveG.