Court Vision: Scuffling Celtics still allergic to the rim
Boston Globe / Getty

Welcome to Court Vision, a weekly video-breakdown column on emerging trends around the NBA that you might have missed.

Boston's biggest flaw

Even in this era of pace-and-space, 3-pointers are less efficient than layups or free throws - and yet, the Boston Celtics seem content to hoist jumpers.

The Celtics are 27th in offensive rating because they don't get to the rim. It's as simple as that. They rank 28th in drives, 28th in shots from the restricted area, and attempt more free throws per game than only three other teams.

Kyrie Irving is the only Celtic consistently pressuring the basket. Jaylen Brown can finish around the hoop, but his handle is too limited to break down a set defense. Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier can maneuver their way inside, but neither player reliably hits layups. Al Horford is strictly a pick-and-pop threat, while Aron Baynes can't score from anywhere.

This same issue plagued the Celtics last season when they posted the 18th-ranked offense despite finishing second in 3-point percentage. The Celtics' efficiency metrics this year should improve once they start making more open threes, but Boston still can't get to the basket.

The hope was that a healthy Gordon Hayward would fill the gaps, but he's not fully comfortable yet on his reconstructed ankle. Hayward is driving half as much as he did during his last healthy season (9.2 drives in 2016-17, down to 4.8 now), and his free-throw attempts have dropped from 5.9 down to 2.2 per game.

Hayward is understandably shy of contact, as he's passing out of 45 percent of his drives this year compared to 34 percent before the injury. Unfortunately, there's nothing the Celtics can do other than remain patient and hope that he eventually regains his confidence.

In the meantime, they'll have to live with many more toothless drives like the one below:

Jayson Tatum is Boston's best bet to bring balance back to the offense.

He famously posterized LeBron James in the Eastern Conference finals, and Tatum has all the tools to consistently get to the rim. However, his mindset early this season has been to become a pull-up threat, which is the last thing the Celtics need. Tatum is shooting 48 percent when he drives, and 38 percent when he pulls up.

The dark art of screen setting

Baynes might not be able to score, but he's one of the best screeners in the league. Defenders bounce off this mountain of a man, especially when trying to stay attached to Irving and Tatum.

It goes beyond bulk and physicality with Baynes, who knows all the subtle tricks for creating space. Moving screens almost always take place near the ball where the infraction is obvious, so Baynes mostly does his dirty work away from the ball.

Watch how he seals off Pascal Siakam here. The veteran establishes inside position and shields the Raptors forward away from the direction of Smart's drive, giving his teammate an open runway for a layup.

There's nothing illegal about the play, as Baynes just made a heads-up move to get the spot first and hold his position.

Of course, there are many instances when Baynes gets away with more than the rules allow.

For example, he grapples with Jonas Valanciunas on the play below to free Hayward for the layup. That would be an obvious foul if Baynes had done it on a ball screen against a guard, but the referees don't call anything because the infraction happened in the paint between two big men.

Chalk it up to just some old-fashioned jostling under the basket.

One could argue that Baynes was setting up inside position for a rebound, or that he was flashing for a quick post up. But his true intent was clearly to interfere with Valanciunas' ability to defend the play.

Booker blossoming as a playmaker

The Suns might already regret passing on Luka Doncic when looking for their point guard of the future, but Devin Booker is doing his best to fill the void.

Booker is developing into an all-around playmaker, ranking 11th in the league while averaging 7.6 assists per game. He was already trending in that direction over his first three seasons, but the addition of Deandre Ayton as a legitimate lob target, coupled with the Suns' total lack of viable point guards, is allowing Booker to expand his game.

The early results are hit and miss. The upside is that Booker is learning to manipulate defenders with subtle head fakes and hesitation dribbles. Watch how he keeps his dribble alive on the drive below to draw Joel Embiid, before sliding the pass over to Richaun Holmes for the jam.

Here's another slick dime in which Booker fools Steven Adams twice - first with a hesitation dribble, and then with a drive - before floating a tip-in to Ayton.

The downside is that Booker's scoring efficiency has taken a hit since he's creating more of his own offense. Booker is taking three times as many pull-up shots compared to catch-and-shoot attempts, despite averaging 0.88 points per play on the former and 1.10 points on the latter.

The young prodigy

The best rookie nobody is talking about is Jaren Jackson Jr., who turned 19 less than three months ago.

Jackson has already started 15 out of 17 games for the Memphis Grizzlies, who quietly sit atop the Western Conference. The 6-foot-10 forward with a 7-foot-4 wingspan moves like a guard, and he's showing tremendous defensive maturity.

Jackson is an excellent weak-side defender (1.8 blocks per game), his handle and outside shot are both above average for a big man, and he's also comfortable defending the perimeter.

Check out the play below when Jackson instinctively picks up Doncic after his defender was wiped out on a screen. Not only does Jackson stay down on Doncic's pump fake, but he instantly repositions his feet to cut off the blow-by, and uses his endless wingspan to steal the ball cleanly before taking it the other way for a layup:

The Grizzlies took calls on the No. 4 pick in this summer's draft hoping to dump Chandler Parsons, but they wisely came to their senses. Jackson is the Grizzlies' bridge to the future after Marc Gasol and Mike Conley eventually fade out.

The Knicks can't stop being the Knicks

With all due respect to the empty numbers from Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, nothing on the court matters for the Knicks this season.

Knicks head coach David Fizdale already admitted that his team isn't putting stock in wins and losses. He just wants everyone to stay on the same page, but even that can be difficult.

Finger pointing is inevitable on a team that defends like a group of strangers at a pick-up run:

Everything is on hold until next summer, when the organization will once again sell the dream of rescuing New York City in spite of James Dolan to a prospective free agent.

That hasn't been a great pitch in the past, but it'll be the plan again. Everyone else is just along for the ride this year.

Court Vision: Scuffling Celtics still allergic to the rim
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