5 things to know about Evan Fournier, the newest Celtics acquisition
Fournier could bring an important scoring element to the Celtics.
The Boston Celtics acquired Orlando Magic guard/wing Evan Fournier before the NBA trade deadline.
Here are five things to know about the 28-year-old.
He’s a talented scorer in a variety of ways.
Fournier is an acceptable but unremarkable playmaker and defender — don’t expect him to be Chris Paul or Tony Allen in either respective category.
What Fournier does at a high level is score the ball in a variety of ways. Most of his offense this season has come out of the pick-and-roll — 31.1 percent of his shots were generated out of those sets. He has scored 0.95 points per 100 possessions as a PnR option, which is the 70th percentile among NBA players. Like Jayson Tatum, Fournier is an excellent 3-point shooter off the dribble — he shot 41 percent from deep on pull-up jumpers.
But the Celtics might utilize Fournier in a different way. During the Isaiah Thomas era, the Celtics ran their star point guard through a healthy dose of dribble hand-off sets with Al Horford at the top of the key, and Thomas feasted. Part of that was due to Horford’s singular talents as a screener, passer, and shooter, which opened up the paint, but Thomas excelled at generating easy baskets by running around Horford and then rocketing into the paint.
Fournier might be able to do the same. He’s a good shooter (38.8 percent from three this season), but getting to the rim might be his best skill. In hand-off sets this season, he has scored 1.36 points per possession — 94th percentile league-wide. He also drives the ball roughly eight times per game, which would be fourth behind Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Kemba Walker.
In short, Fournier’s scoring stats paint the picture of a player ready to contribute right away. A look at his heat chart shows how business-like Fournier is as a scorer.
He scores 20 points per game from the corner, above the break, and in the paint. The Celtics can’t ask for much more than that, especially for the price tag of two second-round picks.
He is a free agent this summer.
One of the downsides to trading for Fournier: He’s only under contract for the next few months. As noted by the Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, Danny Ainge does not like to trade for a rental, so the Celtics may have reason to believe Fournier will be open to re-signing.
But Fournier and his agent will be in a position of negotiating power, especially if he plays well. The Celtics have lost several free agents recently and won’t be enthused by the possibility of losing another — especially given the value of the traded player exception they used to acquire him. Fournier might be looking at a hefty payday this offseason if he remains in Boston.
He’s a supremely confident player.
Fournier was the 20th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, selected by the Denver Nuggets — a team with a history of making great international selections (Fournier is French). During the pre-draft process, then-Mavericks president and GM Donnie Nelson told Grantland that Fournier “has the swagger of a big-time player.”
Fournier fell in love with basketball in 2002 after watching the Sacramento Kings’ playoff run, per the same Grantland article, and he grew up assuming he would be an NBA player.
“It’s never been a dream,” Fournier used to say. “Only a goal. I always knew I was going to make it.”
He probably does not turn the Celtics into contenders.
Celtics fans have plenty of reason to be excited — Fournier is averaging a career-high 19.7 points per game with great shooting splits, and he should shore up the Celtics’ depth. He might even become a starter if Brad Stevens prefers Marcus Smart with the second unit.
But don’t expect Fournier to turn the Celtics into contenders by himself. The Magic had a fire sale on Thursday, trading away three of their best players in Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon, and Fournier. Of those three, Vucevic — who made the All-Star team this season — was the most productive.
But even with three valued deadline targets on the roster, the Magic are 15-29 — the fourth-worst record in the NBA. Fournier is a good addition, but a complementary one. The hard work of becoming a contender still rests on Brown, Tatum, and Walker.
Don’t Google his name.
After news broke that the Celtics had acquired him, Fournier took to Twitter with a somewhat cryptic message.
Hi @celtics fans,
If you’re not familiar with me, please Google my last name.
— Evan Fournier (@EvanFourmizz) March 25, 2021
This has been a running joke on NBA Twitter for years. If you Google “Evan Fournier,” you will find plenty of links regarding the 28-year-old Celtics guard who was acquired for two second-round picks and absorbed into the Celtics’ traded player exception.
If you Google “Fournier” by itself, however, you will find results related to “an acute necrotic infection of the scrotum; penis; or perineum. It is characterized by scrotum pain and redness with rapid progression to gangrene and sloughing of tissue.”
So there you have it. If you have to search for “Fournier,” you might want to stay out of the “Images” tab.
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