Boston Celtics: Is Paul Pierce Finished As An Elite Player?
Paul Pierce has been one of the most consistent and dominating players of his generation. A 10 time All-Star and a career 22 PPG scorer, he has never averaged below 16.5 PPG in his career. Even with these solid stats, he is often overlooked because of the more explosive, high-flying, flashy athletes in the NBA. This has caused many people to wonder: Has Paul Pierce’s time as an elite player in the NBA come to an end?
With New York, L.A., Miami, and Oklahoma City taking center stage this season, Pierce and the Celtics have continued to play under the radar. Currently sitting as the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference with a record of 12-11, it seems there hasn’t been much to talk about when it comes to the Celtics. When they do come up in conversation, it is often because of Rajon Rondo‘s stellar play at the point. Not because of Paul Pierce. This may lead us to think that Pierce isn’t playing as well as he has in the past but that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Pierces’ numbers this season have done anything but dwindle. In fact, he is actually putting up slightly better numbers than last year:
2011-12: 19.4 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 4.5 APG
2012-13: 19.7 PPG, 5.5 RPG, 3.5 APG
Yes, his assists per game are down this year but this is because Rondo is leading the NBA in assists per game this season at 12.9. With Rondo handling the ball most of the time, Pierce is rarely asked to initiate the offense.
Still not convinced? Let’s talk about Pierce’s performance in the playoffs. Even though the Celtics are an 8th seed at the moment, no one wants to meet them come playoff time; and Pierce is the main reason. He is one of the more experienced playoff performers in the league with a total of 130 playoff games under his belt. In those games, he has averaged 21 points, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.9 assists. Pierce regularly elevates his game and comes up big in the playoffs. This is a unique trait that only an elite player holds.
So before we start blaming Pierce for the Celtics’ slow start this season, we need to look at the big picture. Pierce is putting up better than average numbers this year and the Celtics are still a favorite to be a playoff team in the East. Pierce is definitely the same player he has been in the past and undeniably one of the elite in the league. Don’t believe me? Just wait until playoff time. That is when the elite players perform at their best. That is the truth.
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Brady is a die hard Jazz fan who was born and raised in Utah. If he isn't watching basketball, he is writing about it. He is a perfect example of a basketball junkie. You can follow him on Twitter @bradyslife.