One month into the 2022-23 NBA season, the Boston Celtics look like a well-oiled machine. At 13-4 and fresh off a nine-game win streak that ended Monday against the Chicago Bulls, the Celtics own the best record in their conference and the entire league. The negative attention the franchise received early on in the season because of the Ime Udoka situation has seemingly evaporated.
However, even though Boston is playing at a very high level, the team still has weaknesses to address. For one, the Cs have gone through stretches this season where they’ve struggled to rebound the ball. Boston currently ranks just 23rd in the NBA in rebounds per game.
When Robert Williams returns, he’ll help shore up this number, but he can’t singlehandedly fix Boston’s ineptness on the glass. That’s why it would do the Celtics good for them to trade for a third center. Someone who the team can rely on besides Williams and Al Horford to pull down misses at a high rate and prevent opponents from pounding the offensive glass.
Now that’s different from saying the Celtics need to trade for a top-notch center — they already have one. Plus, Boston is clicking on all cylinders right now, and more than a move around the margins could damage the good vibes the team has going. All Boston needs is a dependable backup that the team can acquire without trading away any current rotation pieces.
Celtics trade target: Bismack Biyombo
Enter Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo. This season, he has provided elite rebounding and rim protection in limited minutes with Phoenix. His current block and rebound averages per 36 minutes are out of this world — Biyombo is averaging 10.5 boards and a career-high 4.7 rejections.
For perspective on just how terrific Biyombo has been at deterring opponents at the rim, his block percentage of 6.8% ranks in the 100th percentile among all NBA bigs, per Cleaning the Glass. Myles Turner currently has the second-highest block percentage in the league at 5.2%, a whole 1.6% less. The advanced metrics regarding Biyombo’s rebounding are less elite but still quite impressive (56th percentile in offensive rebounding percentage).
Besides being an uber-impactful board snatcher and shot blocker, Biyombo is an underrated finisher at the basket. He’s been practically automatic inside, as he’s shooting 73% on his at-the-rim looks this season. Biyombo is a constant threat to score at the rim because of his athleticism. His bounciness allows him to finish above the rim with ease and thrive as a lob man.
All in all, Biyombo’s traditional big man skillset would fit like a glove on this undersized Celtics team. On top of that, as aforementioned, the Celtics wouldn’t have to break the bank to acquire him. Far from it, in fact. A second-round pick, plus Cs rookie JD Davison, should be enough to stir the pot. After all, Biyombo averages just 12.9 minutes per contest, and the Suns already have plenty of center depth, with DeAndre Ayton and Jock Landale monopolizing most of the available minutes at the five spot.
Sure, there are far sexier big men whose names are being thrown around in trade talks, such as Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins. However, the Celtics would be hard-pressed to find a better center cheaper than Biyombo. That’s why Brad Stevens should pick up the phone before February’s trade deadline and give the Suns a call about their 30-year-old center.