Name: Shane Larkin
Position: Point Guard
Acquired: Free Agency (July 31, 2017)
Contract: One-year, $1.5 million remaining
2016-17 Stats: 13.1 PPG, 5.7 APG, 1.3 SPG for Saski Baskonia in Spain
He’s dangerous around the rim, especially for somebody who stands at 5’11”. Larkin has a great feel for put back dunks and tip-ins and he’s very good at playing off the ball and running a backdoor cut to the basket. Speed is his asset to make this all happen and if Brad Stevens is able to figure out a play or two that works for him, Larkin could find himself a bigger role in the rotation. With turnover problems and some shaky shooting at times, it’s hard to justify playing him at point guard for heavy minutes. But the tools are right here for the Celtics to figure out creative ways to use the former 18th overall pick.
By far, the biggest issue Larkin had as a point guard was protecting the ball. Over his three seasons in the NBA, he posted a turnover percentage of 18.7% and that number was as high as 21.0% during his final season before heading off to Spain. By compression, Isaiah Thomas – who could be a little turnover happy at times himself – only posted a turnover percentage of 10.7% last season for the Celtics. Most of the tools to be a good NBA player are there, but the one glairing weakness in his game also happens to be something that players of his particular position are usually asked to excel at. His size can often limit him on the defensive end. He is listed in most places at 5’11” but that could also be a bit generous.
Shooting was a major issue for Larkin over the first two years of his NBA career as he shot 42.0% from the floor and 30.5% from beyond the arc, but things started to turn around a tad during that third season as he improved to clips to 44.2% and 36.1% respectively. His shooting continued to trend upward last year in the EuroLeague – where it seems like shooting is an asset for everyone big and small – so hopefully the once glairing weakness to his game is now something that can be counted on.
It will be tough for Larkin to get minutes because this team is so talented at both guard spots. Kyrie Irving and Jaylen Brown will likely hold down the two starting spots while Marcus Smart can play over 30 minutes per night off the bench and Terry Rozier has also proven himself a capable reserve. He might find himself with Gerald Green-like usage, who played in only 47 regular season games last season but was healthy and active for all 82. Because Brown can fill it at other positions on the roster, almost any injury would probably give minutes to Larkin or something like foul trouble as well. He’ll be able and ready all season, but he won’t make that big of an impact.