NBA trade deadline: Brad Stevens identifies Celtics' biggest need

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What Brad Stevens sees as Celtics' biggest need entering deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

The Boston Celtics should be better than their 23-22 record. So, how do they get there?

That's the question facing Celtics president of basketball operations Brad Stevens with the Feb. 10 NBA trade deadline fast approaching. While some have called for drastic measures like dealing Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum, Stevens is more likely to focus on building a better supporting cast around his two young All-Stars.

In a recent interview with The Athletic's Jay King, Stevens pointed out a specific area where the Celtics can improve around the Jays.

Forsberg: Exploring the middle-of-the-road path for C's

"If there is a need as far as a very short-term need that we would look to address -- and again, you do it either by looking at your bench and figuring out rotation tweaks or you do it by small deals -- then that would be something that we’ll certainly look at from a shooting standpoint," Steven said.

"Defensively, I feel pretty good about where we’re at overall. I think our record is .500. Our point differential suggests we should be a little better than that. ... But I would say shooting would be the part where we can do a better job of accentuating those guys’ strengths."

Shooting is a pretty obvious need for the Celtics, who entered Monday ranked 23rd in the NBA in 3-point percentage (33.9%) and 22nd in overall field goal percentage (44.6%). Tatum and Brown are excellent playmakers who can generate open looks for their teammates, but outside Grant Williams and Josh Richardson, no Celtics role player has been able to consistently hit open shots.

Outside help wanted

Average 3PT% of Celtics' top six minutes leaders

32.4

Variation

Single

Stevens could view Payton Pritchard and Aaron Nesmith as internal solutions to that problem: Boston's two 2020 first-round picks are both shooting below their career averages and could turn things around if they see more consistent minutes down the stretch.

But the Celtics would be wise to explore deals for veteran shooters who can confidently knock down open looks and give Tatum and Brown more room to operate. Even if Boston wants to keep its "core" intact, Stevens should be able to get a decent return for veteran guard Dennis Schroder (or Pritchard, Nesmith and/or Romeo Langford) on the trade market.

"Every decision that we make, the question that we have to ask is, 'Does this make sense in this one deal to do to give us the best chance to be in the mix for competing for a banner?' " Stevens told King when asked about the Celtics' trade deadline philosophy. "That’s it. That’s the driving force in each one. So each deal would be its own separate entity in that, but at the same time that’s the north star."