The NBA off season came and went and the Boston Celtics for the most part have a pretty good idea of the roster they will bring to training camp. They have a nice blend of veterans and youth, and have seemed to shed the “they’re too old” label in the process. One possible concern as we approach training camp is the lack of height on the current roster. The only players who are currently taller than 6’10 are Kevin Garnett, Fab Melo, and Jason Collins. No disrespect to Melo or Collins, but neither is expected to contribute the meaningful minutes that Garnett will give the team.
In past seasons, the lack of height in a nine or ten man rotation might raise a few question marks, but over the past few years, something different has happened. Teams have adopted a “small ball” strategy and value quickness and team speed over height and size. The two main examples of this are the Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder. It obviously helps to have two of the most versatile players in the league in Kevin Durant and Lebron James, but it clearly has been a philosophy that more and more teams are adjusting to.
Should the Celtics transition to a smaller ball lineup or have they essentially already done so? It appears that the team has valued this approach after last season’s finish. Garnett is not your typical center in that he is a much quicker player than your traditional types and does not carry nearly the amount of bulk that an Andrew Bynum or Roy Hibbert carries. The team now has great versatility in the lineups that Doc Rivers can throw out there. With Jeff Green’s return from season ending heart surgery, he provides the team with great depth and versatility. He is primarily a small forward but can more than hold his own as a power forward. When Garnett needs a breather, the Celtics could very easily have a front court lineup of Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, and Green. The team would clearly be sacrificing size for more speed, quickness, and outside shooting ability. There have even been times over the past few years where Rivers has utilized Pierce at the four positions. He can also do similar things in the backcourt. If he wants to take out Courtney Lee, Rivers can easily bring Jason Terry in off the bench to pair with point guard Rajon Rondo. This is a much smaller than average back court but they negate their height disadvantage with the same traits that the frontcourt possess.
GM Danny Ainge clearly knew that in order to dethrone the Miami Heat this season, he needed to field a similar type of style. The makeup of this team is one that will be very enticing to watch as the season unfolds. No longer will the team throw out lineups with Jermaine O’Neal, Greg Stiemsma, and Mark Blount amongst others. They identified a style that can work and will go to battle with it. The Celtics have new and improved depth and versatility. They have clearly made huge strides in matching up with the Heat and have positioned themselves to make another strong run at an Eastern Conference Championship, with of course the ultimate goal being hanging Banner 18.
Rob Lunder covers the Boston Celtics for Rant Sports. For all Celtics news, check out the Boston Celtics homepage on Rant Sports.