Photo: Flip Board
By: Patrick Whalen
2018-19 Report Card
We’re almost through the whole roster at this point with just 6 days till the Celtics open up their season on October 23 and the hype is getting real with this team. One of the two returners we’ve yet to talk about is the German big man Daniel Theis. Theis entered his second season with the Celtics last year and his numbers almost mirrored his 2017-18 numbers from his rookie season. Over 66 games Daniel averaged 5.7 ppg (up 0.4), 3.4 rpg (down 0.9) and shot 54.9% (up 0.8%). but the one area he did show substantial growth was from three-point range as his three-point percentage jumped from 31% to 38.8%. Theis, much like former Celtics big man Aron Baynes, worked extremely hard to improve his three-point shot to help add another dimension to not just their games but the Celtics offense as a whole. But the two alarming stats were Theis’ decline in his rebounds and his free throw percentage. Seeing his minutes average only decrease by 1 minute per game and seeing his rebounding decrease by almost 1 per game is quite alarming especially for a guy that will be looked at a veteran on the Celtics bench for this upcoming season as the frontcourt features many new, young players. The free throw percentage dropped from 75.5% to 73.7%, not a drastic drop but you never like to see a big man’s free throw percentage drop as that usually is a shooting stat they struggle with.
His defense also needs improvement, mostly against bigger more physical centers. Last season when Theis was the primary center against the like of Clint Capela, DeAndre Ayton, and Karl-Anthony Towns he was dominated physically down low. Now we all know Theis is not know as a rim protector but last season he had the help of Baynes and Al Horford last season for a defensive presence down low. This season with the loss of those two Theis will have to improve his defense as only Robert Williams is known for his defense and the rest of the frontcourt is rookies. But despite his struggles defensively I’m still giving Theis a B- for last season as he played the role he was supposed to in the Celtics system and his numbers remained pretty consistent for a second-year NBA player.
Final Grade: B-
For this upcoming season, I expect Daniel Theis to see an expanded role with how much youth there is in the Celtics frontcourt. Other than new Celtic Enes Kanter, Theis is now the oldest big man on the roster and is only entering his third NBA season. Coach Brad Stevens will definitely look for him to take a leadership role among the big men as Robert Williams enters his second NBA season and the frontcourt will be rounded out by rookies Grant Williams and Vincent Poirier. This will also lead to more minutes for Theis, at least early on in the season giving himself a chance to prove why he deserves more minutes off the bench.
Theis was also a part of the Celtics roster that played in the 2019 FIBA World Cup games. He played in 5 games for his home country of Germany averaging 7.6 points and 6 rebounds over 17.8 minutes. He averaged just 4 more minutes a game in the tournament compared to his 2018-19 NBA season and his scoring increased by 2 points and his rebounding went up by 3 rebounds as he was already making the early case for more minutes in the Celtics rotation.
Plus with the departure of Al Horford, I believe the Celtics will play Theis at power forward more often when they play the big lineup when last year that would have featured Horford and Baynes. The biggest key for Theis seeing a large minutes uptick will be his defense, especially when matched up with bigger, physical centers if he can improve on that look for him to be a key role player off the Celtics bench.
Predictions for 2019-20:
Games: 70 Starts: 8 MPG: 18.3 FGA: 4.5 FG%: 54.5% 3P%: 37.6% PPG: 6.1 RPG: 4.7
Now let’s take a look back at some Daniel Theis’ best plays of 2018-19.
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