Celtics Player Profile: International Big Man Vincent Poirier

The Celtics lost center depth over the summer after trading Aron Baynes to the Suns. To address this, Boston looked outside the states for help, finding French big man Vincent Poirier.

Overseas Career

Poirier started his basketball career at the Bussy Basket Club. In the 2013–14 season he was the best rebounder in the Espoirs Championship. He averaged 12 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 1.6 assists in 30 games. On April 24, 2014 he moved to Paris-Levallois but was loaned to Hyères-Toulon. He made a very good start of the season accepting the role of a solid rotation player. After that season he made a terrific return to Paris-Levallois for the 2015-16 season. In just 17 minutes of play, Vincent averaged eight points and five rebounds on the season. That makes his per 36-minute production 17 points and 11 rebounds per game.

The super-sub even participated in the 2016 NBA Summer League with the Magic, but it didn’t amount to a permanent deal. He chose to head away from the NBA and stay with his French squad. Following an even better year with them after being granted an increased role, Poirier left P-L for Baskonia to compete in the EuroLeague and Spanish Liga ACB. In just his second season with the club, Poirier led the EuroLeague with 8.3 rebounds, as well as also putting up 12 points per competition. This even earned him a spot in the All-EuroLeague Second team. The Celtics, who have reportedly been scouting him for years, grabbed Vincent on July 15th to add to their slightly depleted depth.

Shift Towards NBA

His amazing rebounding and blocking skills should transition well to the NBA, as the seven-footer is used to strong competition. While of course the EuroLeague isn’t the NBA, it is considered the second-best league in the world. Since signing with the Celtics, Poirier has already shown fans on the world stage why it was a smart move. He was instrumental to France’s FIBA World Cup run, succeeding even as team USA struggled. In fact, France even beat Team USA in the quarter-finals while also winning the bronze. Poirier was crucial to this shocking run and was a rebounding machine for France. To prove his consistency, in the final game of the tournament he produced seven rebounds against a powerful Australian team.

Recent History of International Signings

This signing was a no-brain decision for the Celtics, thanks to the recent hidden gems they’ve found in international players. Aron Baynes was signed from the Pistons in 2017 and was crucial to an amazing Celtics’ defense. He would start whenever Brad Stevens wanted to lock down an opposing big star like Joel Embiid, and would happily come off the bench when he wasn’t needed in that capacity. The Celtics got rid of him almost solely due to the need to make salary cap room, but Poirier could be an even better version of Baynes.

Theis is another overseas center from Salzgitter, Germany. He has had a solid NBA career so far, but not as impactful as Baynes. He could step into Aron’s spot, except he doesn’t really have the same post presence as Poirier. If Vincent lives up to the ceiling that fans and teammates are setting, then he could be the best Celtics international player in recent memory.

Support

There has been a great amount of support for the Celtics acquisition. French teammate and star Evan Fournier spoke some very encouraging words when describing Poirier.

“It’s clear that he’s a center that can block shots and control the paint,” raved Fournier. “He’s a terrific roller, can really catch a lob, and obviously has a lot of energy. It’s a good pick-up for Boston, for sure.”

But he’s not the only person to vouch for Poirier’s skills. Nicolas Batum also gave similar compliments shortly after France won the bronze. But nothing stands out more than Celtics director of player personnel Austin Ainge’s warm welcome.

“We’ve been scouting him for a few years,” Ainge told the Boston Sports Journal. “In my opinion, when he had the move to Baskonia two years ago, he really improved very rapidly. They did a great job with him in development. He really improved and has become a very good player. This year, we obviously started talking with him and his agent throughout the season and we’re excited that he chose to sign with us.

The Celtics needed someone who can bully guys in the paint, make then less confident about driving. His potential bench partnership with Robert Williams could be special for that very reason, allowing players like Edwards and Smart to do their thing. They needed someone to become their new Giannis and Embiid stopper. I feel safe saying they found a suitable guy in Vincent Poirier.

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