Brooklyn Nets player previews: Paul Pierce
After playing for the Boston Celtics for fifteen straight seasons, Paul Pierce was traded to Brooklyn this offseason with teammates Jason Terry and Kevin Garnett. Pierce, who played college ball at Kansas, is a ten-time all star and a four-time all NBA selection. He has averaged 21.8 PPG throughout his terrific career at the small forward position. He won a championship with the Celtics in 2008 and was also named NBA Finals MVP.
At age 35, Pierce is getting old, there's no doubt about it. But his numbers were still good last year. He averaged 18.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. That being said, Pierce had his lowest field goal percentage since the '03-'04 season and played less minutes per game than ever before. He's still an above average defender with size, as well as an outstanding clutch shooter and good free throw shooter.
With Paul Pierce, the Nets aren't just getting his stats, they're getting his experience, his leadership and his poise under pressure. He's also used to sharing the ball after playing with guys like Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Rajon Rondo and Jason Terry in Boston, so that won't be a problem for him. What could be, though, is his increasing age. With such a deep bench, I would expect Pierce to sit a few more minutes than he did last year.
Regardless -- if Pierce stays healthy -- he could be a big piece on a championship contending team. He's a consistent scorer, and with defenders guarding Garnett and Brook Lopez down low and Joe Johnson and Deron Williams on the perimeter, Pierce could get a lot of opportunities to create open shots and be the swing player he can be.
As usual, he'll have a lot of pressure on him defensively. He'll be guarding the best scorers in the Eastern Conference like crosstown rival Carmelo Anthony as well as LeBron James. The key to his season is going to be controlling the wear and tear, as he continues to get up there in age. Although he may be on a new team in a new city, he is surrounded by familiarity in Garnett and Terry. I expect him to produce, but also to miss a few games and play a little less minutes than usual.
I would expect about 30 MPG, leading to 17 PPG, 5 RPG and 4 APG.