Thursday, May 23, 2024

What does Xavier Tillman add to the Celtics?


The Boston Celtics acquired Xavier Tillman through commerce on Wednesday, sending out Lamar Stevens as a part of the deal. The transfer possible cements Boston’s big-man rotation, giving them optionality throughout the rotation. Whereas not the offensive risk of Kristaps Porzingis or Al Horford, Tillman is a bodily presence with a fame for enjoying sturdy protection and including physicality.

He has spent his first three and a half NBA seasons with the Memphis Grizzlies. He performed in 34 video games for them this season, beginning 13. As he acclimates himself to his new teammates and training employees, Tillman will possible be the fourth-string large man behind Luke Kornet — filling the position we’ve seen Neemias Queta in over the primary half of the season.

As he grows snug with the Celtics system and will get used to the place his offense goes to come back by means of, he may probably oust Kornet from the third-string position. Time will inform.

For now, although, all we will do is take a look at the movie on Tillman’s recreation and attempt to be taught what he brings to the desk in order that we will envision the way it will translate to Joe Mazzulla’s workforce. All of it begins together with his potential to thrive as a drop defender, staying in entrance of his man and containing drives and pick-and-roll actions.

Right here is an effective instance of how Tillman can slide his ft to remain in entrance of guards. Malcolm Brogdon tries to show the nook however will get shut off. Tillman then stays linked to him with out fouling, making certain that Brogdon’s drive is contained and he’s tightly contested on any shot try.

Tillman can even defend on the perimeter and within the mid-range. The clip under is a superb illustration of how he can take in physicality on the perimeter. Watch how Zion Williamson tries to discard him with a bump, with Tillman nonetheless staying within the play.

One other side to the above clip is how Tillman angles himself to remove the middle of the courtroom, forcing Zion into an angled drive, permitting Jaren Jackson Jr. to lurk for the block. The following clip is of Tillman defending LeBron James within the mid-post.

Once more, LeBron — one of many extra bodily imposing gamers within the league- can’t bully his manner by means of Tillman. As a substitute, he settles for a tightly contested fadeaway, which clanks off the again rim.

So, it’s clear Tillman can provide you physicality and has a low sufficient middle of gravity to remain rooted when coping with among the stronger gamers within the league. One other side of Boston’s protection is how they’ve their bigs change actions after they transfer away from their drop scheme. That received’t be something new to Tillman, as he’s held an identical position with the Grizzlies.

Within the above possession, the Denver Nuggets go to pick-and-roll between Aaron Gordon and Nikola Jokic. Tillman switched onto Gordon, trailed him in a rear-view contest, anticipated the go, and acquired the pilfer. His timing and studying of the play are each encouraging on this play. It’s his understanding that he would not should be utterly linked to the curler to influence the possession.

General, Tillman’s defensive skillset matches what Boston will likely be asking of him. He’s bodily sufficient to bang with stronger bigs. He’s clever at enjoying the angles. He can guard on the perimeter or change onto ball-handlers when guarding pick-and-roll possessions. It’s an identical position to Horford, so there’ll possible be some veteran tutelage happening there.

Nevertheless, I need to level out there may be one flaw inside Tillman’s defensive recreation: his rebounding. He isn’t essentially the most commanding on the glass, which may have one thing to do with being 6’8’’ and going up in opposition to opposing facilities. Final season, he ranked within the thirty fifth percentile for defensive rebounding amongst bigs, and that was a career-high for him. This season, he’s within the twenty sixth percentile, grabbing simply 14% of accessible defensive boards when he’s on the ground.

Thankfully for the Celtics, they’ve a plethora of different rebounding choices that ought to be capable to paper over any cracks within the glass-cleaning division.

As we flip our consideration towards the offensive finish, the very first thing that stands out is Tillman’s passing potential.

We see the Celtics at all times run an identical motion with their bigs. Tillman units a display and slips earlier than the contact is made (a slip display.) The over-the-top go is made, setting him free in the course of the courtroom; he catches across the nail (a brief roll) and rapidly will get the go up for a lob play.

Tillman’s passing isn’t one thing that jumps out of the display at you. As a substitute, it’s primarily based on fast decision-making and making certain the correct learn is made. We additionally see his passing expertise on show when he’s operating DHOs, each on the perimeter and across the mid-post or elbows.

Right here’s an elbow zoom motion, with Tillman working because the hand-off large. You might acknowledge this play as one thing Ime Udoka favored his workforce to run, because it manipulated the protection and supplied a clearer straight-line drive for the hand-off recipient.

Anyway, discover how as soon as Tillman has initiated the hand-off, he mirrors the drive to supply a passing outlet earlier than establishing store within the strongside dunker spot. That gives the Grizzlies with two choices. First, he’s there as a launch valve if the protection kills the drive. Second, he can crash the glass if the shot misses and probably provide you with a second-chance board.

This possession is one other instance of Tillman’s hand-off passing. This time, it’s in a extra conventional Zoom motion. The identical sequence follows; he tracks the drive earlier than re-locating on the strongside dunker spot.

I like this clip as a superb instance of Tillman being a “subsequent go” creator. He fills gaps, is fast to make reads, and has no drawback getting off the ball in a rush. That may bode properly for the Celtics, contemplating the tempo they like selections to be made and the temp they prefer to run their offense with.

Now that we’ve checked out his passing and defending, it feels prefer it’s the correct time to take a look at his potential influence as a pick-and-roll large. In accordance with NBA Stats, Tillman is averaging 0.67 factors per pick-and-roll possession when Tillman is the roll-man, which happens 1.3 occasions per recreation. Put merely, Tillman isn’t a lot of a pick-and-roll risk and infrequently utilized in that state of affairs. As a substitute, he assaults out of DHO actions.

As a substitute, he’s higher when attacking in area after a DHO. It’s just like a pick-and-roll, however oftentimes, the Grizzlies use Tillman in secondary actions, permitting him further room when he turns the nook. We see Bam Adebayo run related nook hand-off actions and function in an identical manner. Tillman’s mobility makes him a risk when entering into area and receiving the ball.

Once more, right here’s a Zoom motion. Tillman as soon as once more displays the ball-handler, this time receiving the go and getting a straightforward end across the rim.

Past his hand-off scoring and talent to assault in area when slipping screening actions, Tillman can also be a worthwhile cutter who, when receiving the ball across the nail, is a troublesome participant to cease resulting from his body and general energy.

This play jumped out to me. Watch Tillman’s motion on the possession. He V-Reduce’s out of the nook towards the nail, receiving the ball and finishing the minimize by attacking the rim, absorbing contact, and getting the end. Boston has been lacking that type of bulldozer motion since Grant Williams left in the summertime. Tillman’s potential to get low, management the ball, bounce off guys, and nonetheless get to his spot will likely be a great tool for Mazzulla and his general offensive scheme.

When it comes to scoring the ball, Tillman is much from prolific. He’s capturing 56% on the rim, 35% from mid-range, and 24% from deep. His worth comes on protection, as a screener, and as a hand-off creator. Nonetheless, there are occasions when he can present some perimeter capturing.

Given his ability set, it might seem the Celtics are getting a perfect back-up large. He’s not going to search for his personal shot, however he’ll take what the protection provides him. He’s joyful to create for others, units nice screens, and is defensively versatile. The hope is that Boston can enhance his scoring output and assist enhance his capturing stroke and that working with the teaching employees can see him change into a extra dependable rebounder.

The Celtics didn’t surrender a lot to get Tillman by means of the door. He brings a special dimension to Kornet off the bench. On the floor, this appears like a wise enterprise from Stevens. We’ll know extra as he begins to get minutes throughout the rotation. Till then, I’m fairly excited in regards to the transfer.

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