There may still be 17 games remaining on the schedule for the Boston Celtics, but for rookie big man Vitor Faverani the season has come to a premature end due to surgery on his left knee. The 25-year-old Faverani had a mixed rookie campaign and with his first season in the books we can take a closer look at how the big Brazilian handled himself in his debut season in the NBA.
Faverani played in 37 games for the Celtics this season including eight starts at center. The 6’11” rookie was a surprise opening night starter for the Celtics and had some impressive games right out of the gate, perhaps catching other teams and players off guard with his range of skills. In just over 13 minutes per game this season Faverani averaged 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds, but as the season wore on the more experienced players in the front court started to earn more minutes and the Brazilian was forced into spot minutes where he could rarely find a rhythm.
In just his second game in the NBA, Faverani exploded for a huge game against the Milwaukee Bucks that made many stand up and take notice. He scored 12 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and blocked six shots in a game where he utilized his huge 6’11″ frame to its maximum. Shortly after in November against the Minnesota Timberwolves, Faverani showed out again with nine points, 14 rebounds, four blocks and three steals. When given extended minutes he has shown that he can contribute at a high level, all be it not consistently at this stage. Faverani’s Per 36 Minute numbers further reinforce the point, where he averages 12.1 points, 9.4 rebounds and two blocks.
Despite the limited opportunities, Faverani had the chance to display the skills that general manager Danny Ainge saw in him prior to bringing him over from the Euro League. For a man his size, Faverani displayed surprising range on his jump shot, happily hoisting up three pointers without hesitation as he connected on 12 of his 40 attempts from long range. He is not afraid to mix it up in the paint, using his size to battle inside, play solid man defense and can alter shots with his length. Offensively he shows good touch in the paint, is patient with his post ups willing to attack himself or kick the ball out for better opportunities.
Faverani does still have a long way to go if he wants to be a consistent two-way contributor in the NBA however. He needs to adjust to the pace of the game, especially defensively where he was often left out of position on cuts or rebounds as more athletic players attacked the rim. He has huge room for improvement when it comes to his conditioning. The big man would often look gassed after short spells on the court and his already below-average quickness becomes more of an issue when he is tired. Overall, Faverani showed the raw tools to be an effective center in the NBA, but needs to hone his talent, work diligently on improving his fitness and dedicate himself to learning the intricacies of NBA offenses.
Signed for the next two seasons at just over $2 million, if Faverani can even become a solid back-up center he will be a bargain at that price in today’s NBA. As the Celtics continue their rebuilding project this offseason, knowing they have a cheap, productive player like Faverani on the roster is just another great asset in the back pocket of Danny Ainge. At 25, Faverani still has considerable room for improvement and once he recovers fully from his surgery it will be up to him to improve his personal fitness prior to the start of next season’s training camp. As the only true center on the roster at this stage and with considerable roster movement on the horizon, Faverani could see an increase to his playing time next season and become one of the true bargain contributors in the NBA.