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Can Aron Baynes bring it on both ends of the court in 2018/19?
Aron Baynes is back with the Boston Celtics for another season.
Celtics GM, Danny Ainge had high praise for Baynes when the re-signing was announced.
Danny Ainge on Aron Baynes, via #Celtics:
“Aron was a big part of our success this past year and we’re thrilled to have him back. He’s a great teammate and an anchor to our defense. The energy and passion that he brings to the table are contagious.”
— Adam Kaufman (@AdamMKaufman) July 7, 2018
Baynes played a big role in helping the Celtics to a 55-27 regular season record and then taking down the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers in the playoffs.
The Celtics eventually lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals, but without Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, the squad defied expectations.
Looking ahead to season 2018/19, Baynes' role will be similar to last season with the Celtics bringing back much of their squad.
Bench With Attitude (B.W.A)
On media day, Celtic teammate Marcus Smart named the team's second unit B.W.A; Bench With Attitude. Baynes certainly fits that bill; he does the dirty work (including getting dunked on), fights hard in the paint and just works his tail off on every possession.
Marcus Smart on BWA nickname: "We have the toughest team, the toughest bench, the toughest coach. I definitely have a lot of attitude, I know Morris has some attitude, I know other guys have some attitude. I'm rocking with the name."
— Brian Robb (@BrianTRobb) September 26, 2018
Boston's second unit is impressive and tough. From Baynes and Smart to Terry Rozier and Marcus Morris, there's no shortage of confidence and with Baynes making an impact on both ends of the court, he is one of the most important members of the B.W.A.
His defence and three-point shooting will be keys for the Celtics as they look to push towards an NBA Finals berth.
One major point of interest for Baynes this season will be whether he can keep up his impressive three-point shooting efficiency. Whilst it will be unlikely he can keep up the ridiculous pace - 11/23 (47.8%) - he set during last season's playoffs, a 6'10" centre who can shoot even 38% from deep is a hot commodity and a true offensive weapon.
In a very small sample size, Baynes attempted four triples in Boston's four preseason games. He connected on one of those. One attempt per game is almost on par with his average attempts (1.2 per game) over the length of the 2018 playoffs.
Of players standing 6'10" or higher last season, there were only 10 (minimum 50 games played) who attempted at least 1.2 triples per game and connected on no less than 38% of them. If Baynes can hit something close to that mark, he will be a vital cog on offence - and not just because of the scoring.
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With the offensive weapons that Boston possesses; the likes of Kyrie Irving, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, any extra space that Baynes can help create by sucking the opposing big out of the paint could prove to be a problem for opposition defences.
It may not sound like much, but averaging one attempt per game and hitting a decent percentage of those makes the opposing big man think about coming out and challenging Baynes and that thought is all it can take for the paint to open up for his teammates.
Baynes is tough, big and loves competition. His defensive work, along with do-it-all Al Horford, will be crucial for the Celtics this season.
When Boston goes big with Baynes and Horford sharing the frontcourt, Horford can take the four position, knowing that Baynes will take care of the opposing centre. This then allows Horford to go to work on offence where he can at times take advantage of a mismatch by either bullying his way to rim or distributing to a teammate with great effectiveness.
Baynes' defensive work against Joel Embiid in the Eastern Conference semi's was nothing short of fantastic. Against a player like Embiid, you are not going to completely stop him, but Baynes made life as difficult as possible for the big man. His relentless play absolutely affected Embiid. Head to head, Baynes challenged every single shot and Embiid tired noticeably late in games and there's no doubt that Baynes played a huge role in that.
The Celtics tip-off their season against Embiid and Aussies Ben Simmmons and Jonah Bolden at home on October 17 from 11am (AEDT).