Looking back to his glory days, Pierce once averaged 25.0 PPG, 2.3 3PM, 5.9 REB, 4.1 AST and 1.0 STL throughout a whole season (2006-07). Last season, only Kevin Durant and
James Harden could match the output in every single one of those categories, and Pierce produced similar numbers for years. He is one of the all-time greats on one of the best franchises in the NBA. When he retires, he is a first ballot Hall of Famer without a doubt, and will remain a Celtics legend forever.
All that being said, he is not that guy anymore. Pierce’s skills diminished last season, and are still on the way down. Although battling the occasional injury, Pierce managed to play in 75 of 82 games in 2013-14, starting 68 of them. In his age 36 season, and his first (and only) season with Brooklyn, Pierce’s numbers were a disaster. For those expecting something close to his production from the season before, he instead put up a career low in points and assists per game. Okay, so he tied for his career low in assists with his rookie season but since he had fewer total assists last year, let’s just say it was a career low for the sake of argument. The point is, he hadn’t put up numbers that were even in the range of how poor his numbers were last year, in 15 years.
Even sadder is the fact that the numbers were not just an effect of playing less minutes. It’s worth noting that his 28.0 MPG are by far a career low. In fact, the season prior (2012-13) was his previous career low at 33.4 MPG. So, looking at his numbers instead on a per-36 minute basis, he still averaged the worst point production of his career. The 17.3 PP36 showed a steep drop off from the prior season’s 20.0. He hadn’t been under 19.4 since 1999. Is that not enough proof for you? Here are other statistics of note:
-12.2 FGA was the lowest per-36 minutes of his career
-The lowest amount of two point FG attempts he’d ever taken on per-36 minute basis was 9.0. Last season he took only 7.1
-0.4 offensive rebounds per game tied his lowest per-36 minute average ever (2010-11)
-3.1 AST per-36 is his lowest output since the 2001-02 season
-5.3 FTA per-36 marked the least attempts since his rookie season
Even while on the court last season, Pierce was quite unproductive. Now he enters a situation in which his backup is a very talented youngster just begging for minutes. The Washington Wizards selected Otto Porter Jr. with the third overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft. At some point, the team will look to give him a chance to showcase his talents. Last season, he actually played fewer minutes per game post All-Star than pre All-Star. Still, his production increased in the second half due to shooting 47.2 percent post break compared to 29.1 beforehand. He’s only 21 years old, so taking some time to develop should be expected. Having shown improvement, he should be given an even a bigger role this season. Pierce likely was brought in not only to produce a little, but to mentor Porter. Considering how little Pierce seemed to have left in the tank, the Wizards may have envisioned the mentor aspect as the main reason for the signing.
Taking all this into consideration, it’s hard for me to imagine passing on someone with any upside to select Paul Pierce instead. Unlike Shaq, Pierce’s percentages won’t hurt you, so he will probably still have some low end value, but he will be extremely unexciting. Both Pierce and Kevin Garnett are nearing the end, and are pretty much in the same boat: I will not be drafting either for my Fantasy team. There will always be another owner who likes them more and I accept it. While you are drafting Pierce, I’ll be taking Tony Wroten, and I guarantee my guy will out-produce yours in the 2014-15 season.