The Boston Celtics center position has been a point of debate early on. Daniel Theis showed why he’s deserving with his performance against the Bucks.
There are five players who could suit up at the center position for the Boston Celtics, each of them bringing a different skill set to the table. Injuries have forced coach Brad Stevens’ hand to start the season, both Enes Kanter and Theis have spent time on the treatment table already.
Theis entered this game having missed the previous game against the Knicks due to an injury sustained versus Toronto.
Theis ended the game with 11 points, nine rebounds and an assist in 28 minutes. He shot 5-of-8 from the field and 1-of-3 from deep, picking up a block along the way.
While Theis was far from perfect, he played his role valiantly. Utilizing the drop defensive scheme being implemented by the coaching staff, Theis was able to cut the lanes off when opposing players drove. His lateral quickness was key to him staying in front of his man.
However, the Bucks did exploit him on the post, backing him down for some easy buckets inside.
In the above play, Theis is guarding Lopez on the block. Initially Lopez passes out to the perimeter. The ball finds its way back into the Lopez for him to exploit Theis and get the easy bucket.
Due to Boston’s “switch everything” approach, these opportunities were limited for the Bucks. Khris Middleton was eating on the inside, but some things you just have to live with.
Theis did perform on the low help line, however.
In the above defensive play, Theis is on the low help line. The ball-handler drives the lane, but his man keeps in front of him, enabling a contested shot. Theis sees the ball-handler rise up and closes in for the block.
His patience on this play is impressive, not closing out to the shooter until he can be sure the ball wont be kicked out to Lopez in the corner.
Defense wasn’t the only end of the floor Theis displayed an impressive touch. He was a capable roll man of the offensive end too.
Here Theis utilizes a perfectly executed dribble hand-off to Jayson Tatum from the strong side low block. As he hands the ball off, Theis shields Tatum from his defender creating space from him to slip in to the lane.
Tatum reads the play and hits the cutting Theis for an easy bucket.
A simple pick-and-roll play here allows Marcus Smart to hit Theis rolling to the basket unchallenged. Another easy bucket inside.
Having shown composure on both ends of the floor and an ability to be effective within the team’s system, Theis has thrown down the gauntlet. He has likely earned the starting role following this game against one of the best teams in the league.
Capable of stretching the floor, facilitating the offense and playing smart defense its becoming hard to see which other big on the roster can challenge him.