Past and Present TPA Leaders: Boston Celtics
We’re moving onto the Boston Celtics for Past and Present TPA Leaders—NBA Math’s offseason series that will cover each team in alphabetical order. In each installment, we’ll provide three overarching pieces of visual information: the top 10 in career TPA earned during the regular season for the relevant franchise, a look at the All-TPA depth chart (each player is eligible only during his top-rated season) and the current TPA status of each member of the 2016-17 roster.
If you need a refresher on what TPA is or how it’s derived, we’ve got you covered. Just click here.
The litany of stars who have suited up in Beantown is almost unfair.
TPA dates back to 1974, and the league-wide leaderboard always seems to feature a member of the Celtics near the top. Dave Cowens was the initial stud during the relevant timeframe, and he still has the franchise’s only top-10 single-season score (352.21 TPA in 1975-76) not earned by Boston’s No. 1 player.
Each of the other nine belong to Larry Bird, including every single one featured in the top eight. In fact, Bird has three of the NBA’s 25 best scores since 1974, joining Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as one of just four players to accomplish the feat.
If you’re surprised Bird is the franchise leader in TPA during the modern era, you really shouldn’t be:
No one can touch Bird, and the competition for No. 2 isn’t that close, either. Paul Pierce spent the vast majority of his career earning All-Star accolades and scoring points aplenty for the C’s, and that gives him the advantage—with room to spare—over the many excellent bigs who have played in the Boston Garden.
It’s a crying shame Pierce can’t be a starter on this All-TPA depth chart, which gets shockingly thin in the backcourt as we near the end:
|All-TPA Depth Chart – BOS|
|PG||’09 Rajon Rondo||’16 Isaiah Thomas||’96 David Wesley||’06 Delonte West|
|SG||’09 Ray Allen||’88 Danny Ainge||’93 Reggie Lewis||’94 Dee Brown|
|SF||’86 Larry Bird||’80 Cedric Maxwell||’02 Paul Pierce||’74 John Havlicek|
|PF||’87 Kevin McHale||’08 Kevin Garnett||’01 Antoine Walker||’92 Ed Pinckney|
|C||’76 Dave Cowens||’89 Robert Parish||’86 Bill Walton||’08 Kendrick Perkins|
Antoine Walker should stand out as the only unexpected name double-dipping on the above charts. He was a gunner on teams that didn’t experience too much success, and that stands in stark contrast to the efficiency that has come to dominate the league in recent years.
But efficient or not, Walker is going to own the No. 10 spot for a while longer. No one on the current roster is particularly close to dethroning him:
Boston already has five players in the positives, and that number should soon swell as Al Horford establishes himself, Jaylen Brown adjusts to the Association and the other youngsters develop. But how long would it take for each of the stars—or semi-stars, if you’re a little more stringent with your designations—to surpass Walker?
Isaiah Thomas produced 162.78 TPA in 2015-16. At that rate, it would take him a little over two seasons to move past Walker, and there’s no guarantee he continues playing at this level with Horford in town. The new arrival, however, would need to maintain his recent Atlanta Hawks pace (218.2 TPA in 2015-16) through the 2018-19 season. Jae Crowder, who earned 132.61 TPA last year, would need to keep playing that type of basketball for more than three additional campaigns.
Don’t expect any current players to move into the franchise’s top 10 anytime soon, even if this squad is now one of the best in the Eastern Conference.