Rasheed Wallace Looking Like a $5.8 Million Bust for Celtics


April 9, 2010

Rasheed Wallace Looking Like a $5.8 Million Bust for Celtics Rasheed Wallace once said, "Ball don't lie." Well, right now, the ball — and whatever else you might listen to — is telling Celtics fans that Sheed just isn't that good.

Whether you go by the eye test or someone like John Hollinger and his advanced statistics, it's easy to see that something isn't right with Sheed. Signed to be the missing link for the Celtics, he's become just plain missing, another aging star whose limitations are shining brighter than his skills.

It's not just the bad 3-pointers, reluctance to rebound or inconsistent defense. In fact, it's not just anything — it's a combination of everything that has made Wallace a Beantown flop.

You don't need basketball?s sabermaticians to tell you that Wallace isn't on top of his game, but when they back up what fans have been saying all year, it doesn?t hurt. According to Hollinger — basketball's answer to Bill James — Sheed is one of the top 15 "chuckers" in the NBA.

Basically, what that means, is that when the ball gets to Sheed, it's likely going up, and it is most likely not going in. Wallace is shooting a sublime .280 from behind the arc while still attempting 3.7 3-pointers per game. Only Baron Davis has taken so many 3s at such a poor rate, and Davis plays nearly 34 minutes per game to Wallace's 22.5 minutes.

Sheed has been hovering around .350 from deep for much of the past decade, but the Wallace that arrived in Boston doesn't have the same stroke and often misses open shots. According to the Elias Sports Bureau (via Bill Simmons' verbal outcry against the Sheed enigma), Wallace is on pace for the fifth-worst percentage among players who have taken at least 300 3-point shots in a season — ever.

His ball-stopping habits may be frustrating, but that wasn?t solely why the Celtics doled out $18.9 million over three years. He's a versatile 6-foot-11 big who has a reputation for providing top-notch help defense and banging home big 3s once in a while.

But none of that has materialized in Boston. As his Celtics career has shown, his versatility comes from his ability to do a plethora of things with equal non-chalance and futility. According to Basketball Prospectus' Kevin Pelton (by way of the Sports Guy), Sheed's offensive rebounding percentage this season (.30)  is tied for the third-lowest percentage among any player his size or taller in NBA history. Add in an offensive-rebounding rate of 2.7 (you don't have to know what that means except that Channing Frye is the next worse among centers at 3.7, and Fabrico Oberto — whom Hollinger calculates has added -1.5 wins to his team — is at 5.9), and what has Wallace brought to the table besides league lead in technical fouls?

Hollinger estimates that Wallace added 2.1 wins to the C's, but even Darko Milicic has added 0.8 wins to his teams this season, so that stat is not without flaw.

However, there is no statistic to measure attitude. Sheed probably loves the game of basketball and wants nothing more than a title, but he has been playing the wrong role all year and hasn?t exactly been the most well-conditioned player on the floor on any given night.

Simmons points out how Wallace can go possessions at a time without crossing either foul line, preferring to wait for a 3 before standing around on defense so he can go back and do it again. With his talent — especially down on the block, when he gets there — Sheed is still capable of being a two- way force. He may not be exactly what the Celtics were looking for when they signed him, but if he really wants that ring, he?ll have to turn it on, play defense every time down the court and maybe holster the quick trigger from the land of 3.

If the new Sheed flips the switch and turns it on this postseason, you'll know. The Celtics might make some noise.

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