Andy Bailey@@AndrewDBaileyFeatured Columnist IVOctober 1, 2022
Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

It felt like the Boston Celtics were in the middle of one of the NBA's best off-seasons after they acquired Malcolm brogdon.

Robert Williams III underwent surgery on his left knee that could cost him months of this season, after he was injured at a World Cup qualification game.

It was obvious that Boston needed another big. The answer was given on Friday.

Adrian Wojnarowski @wojespn

Free agent Blake Griffin has agreed to a one-year, fully guaranteed deal with the Boston Celtics, sources tell ESPN.

It came as a bit of a surprise when it was announced that the Clippers forward would be joining the Celtics. Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe said that little reporting had preceded it and that Carmelo Anthony was gaining "traction."

It was easy to see how he would fit in Boston after he averaged 13.3 points and 2.2 threes per game for the LA Lakers.

He may have fit better than Gallo.

Andy Bailey @AndrewDBailey

2021-22 Carmelo Anthony18.4 PTS, 5.8 REB, 3.0 3P, 1.4 AST, 1.0 BLK, 0.9 STL per 75 poss, +1.3 rTS%, -0.6 EPM, -2.5 NetRtg (+2.0 swing)2021-22 Danilo Gallinari

17.0 PTS, 6.8 REB, 2.5 3P, 2.2 AST, 0.3 BLK, 0.6 STL per 75 poss, +1.3 rTS%, -0.3 EPM, +2.8 NetRtg (+2.4 swing)

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He wasn't the one who made the decision. It's not hard to see why Boston chose to go with him despite his issues with durability.

Before the news of Williams' surgery, most of the Melo rumors were circulating. He didn't change the Celtics' needs.

"My guess is that Boston went with the guy who can defend at the 5 because he has shown he can do it," Spotrac'sKeith Smith wrote. "Melo would have been more of a Gallo replacement, but Griffin fills a bigger hole on the roster."

There is a key to this. He played over 80 percent of his minutes as a center last season because he is larger than Anthony. He still has his point-forward skills.

In the last three campaigns, he has recorded 4.2 assists per 75 possessions He can bring a lot of passing and playmaking to the table.

The Celtics were 12th in the league in passes made and 2nd in secondary assists. Ball movement was a key ingredient for an offense that finished in a tie for eighth in the 2020-21 season.

The volume of passing from this roster can be increased with the addition ofGriffin.

That might come at a cost. Over the last three years, Griffin has hit just 29.3% of his three-point attempts. Anthony is 38.9 percent from deep during the last three seasons.

Boston probably isn't giving up on the fact that Griffin will be a sub 30 percent outside shooter. Over the course of the last three years, he attempted 3.4 threes per game and made 34% of them.

He'd gotten consistent enough to force defenders to pay attention to him out there, even though the shot never graduated from its clunky looking form. Even if the injuries have made him less athletic, there is still time for the 33 year old to get back to his former self.

The most important consideration is the defense.

The last two seasons, the defensive box has been an average. He's committed more fully to moving on defense as he transitions away from being a top scoring option.

Over the last five years, Melo has a minus-1.2 defensive box plus/ minus, which is 327th out of 381 qualified players.

BasketballReference cautions against using defensive box plus/ minus as a definitive measure of a player's ability, but that gap is noteworthy. The eye test is supported by it.

He is taking defense more seriously than he used to. He passes to Anthony better than any other passer. He is a replacement for Gallo and Williams because of his willingness and ability to play either position.

It's not hard to see why Boston chose to go with Griffin, despite the fact that Boston could've sold a Melo signing.