After going after Paul Pierce for three years, the Clippers finally closed the deal this summer, adding the former Finals MVP and future NBA Hall of Famer using the taxpayer Mid-Level Exception. In his first year with the team, Pierce has frankly been a harsh let-down, scoring under 6 points a game and shooting under 35% from the field and just 31.7% from deep. He's started the last 25 games in the absence of Blake Griffin, but his production still hasn't improved.
Thomas Wood: F. He's provided almost none of what was expected of him, and what was expected was very little. The man is a legend, and by that I mean that he should already be retired so we can begin talking about him in the past tense. Unfortunately, his bounceless legs are betraying what is still a sharp basketball mind. Pierce was never a great athlete, but craftiness can only carry you so far. This year, it's carried him to the worst numbers of his career, by far, and he isn't passing the eye test either. The only saving grace: he wasn't particularly good in the regular season last year -- although he was better than this -- and turned it up in the playoffs.
Adithya: D. The man is done. The few good games aren't signs of an uptick in play (although he's playing better now than he did in the beginning of the season). They're blips, occasional exceptions to the depressing reality that is the waning days of a Hall-of-Fame career. Doc is going to have some tough decisions to make when Blake returns, assuming the roster doesn't change dramatically. Pierce works as a rotation player right now because he can play 3 and 4 interchangeably with LRMAM, but Blake takes his spot when he returns and Pierce doesn't fit the playstyle of the bench as currently constructed (although if a new SF or Wes/Lance eventually grab the starting 3 spot, you can play Pierce/LRMAM together off the bench). Pierce supporters will defend him by claiming that it'll all be worth it if he wins the Clippers a playoff game, but one good performance won't quite offset his contributions (or lack thereof) in multiple other contests, especially if his minutes come at the expense of more productive options.
Niels Pineda: F. Father time has claimed another player, and unfortunately, we signed him this summer. Pierce looks absolutely done out there, and the only reason people seem to defend him out there is because they hope he can magically flip a switch and become decent during the playoffs. But that's not what this grade is about. Pierce's poor defense is attacked constantly, and outside of a hot 5 game shooting streak, his offense has been abysmal. He also fails to secure rebounds leading to second chance opportunities for the other teams. Overall, Pierce has been a huge negative whenever he is out there, and I sincerely hope that A) that magical switch exists or B) Doc stops playing him sooner rather than later.
Lucas Hann: D-. There's not much tip-toeing around the topic to do--Pierce has been bad this season. He'll hit a timely shot, he'll get a strip defensively, he'll come down with a rebound--but he won't do any of those things consistently. He's shooting under 35% from the field, which is absolutely abysmal, and under 32% from three. He's really struggled to rebound and defend power forwards, but he'd easily be worse against quick wing players. As we go along, it's becoming increasingly difficult to justify giving Pierce minutes over the likes of Wes Johnson and now Jeff Green. I'm ready for Paul Pierce to be an assistant coach next season.