The Boston Celtics are a team going through a major overhaul. Their trade of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets was one of the most stunning moves of the offseason, closely followed by their decision to hire Butler’s Brad Stevens as head coach. With Rajon Rondo surrounded by a ton of youth, it will be very interesting to see the decisions Stevens and Danny Ainge make when assembling the final roster.
Here is my projection for the Celtics’ final 15 man roster:
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo, Phil Pressey
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee, Marshon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Jordan Crawford
Small Forward: Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, DeShawn Sims
Power Forward: Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk
Center: Kris Humphries, Victor Faverani
Like all teams, the Celtics have several players in camp for depth who have not shot at make the team. Two who do, however, are Sims and Damen Bell-Holter. Sims has been a high level scorer in the D-League and Europe, and he looks like the non-roster invitee with the best chance at making the roster. Bell-Holter has a shot if he can be a presence in the post, but the Celtics are likely to spend a lot of time in small lineups with Green or Wallace at the 4.
Starting at point guard, the Celtics are now being turned over to Rondo. He is the best player on the team by a mile, and it will take everything he has to drag this squad anywhere near a playoff berth. Unfortunately, he will likely miss at least the first month of the season, if not longer. While he is out, Bradley will start at the point and be backed up by Pressey. Don’t be surprised to see the Celtics seek out a veteran at this position, unless Pressey dazzles in camp.
The Celtics have a glut of shooting guards, and Lee and Brooks will battle for the starting job. Bogans brings veteran leadership and defensive toughness, and he will easily make the team. Crawford is an interesting player, because there doesn’t seem to be any playing time for him in Boston. Don’t be surprised if Ainge tries to find a trade for Crawford, especially if the Celtics go after another veteran point guard.
At small forward, Green will be asked to build on last season’s promising campaign, when he averaged 12.8 PPG and displayed his well rounded skills. The Celtics are hoping Wallace can get back to being the lockdown defender and star rebounder he once was, especially because he is due just north of $30 million over the next three seasons.
Up front, Bass and Humphries will start in an undersized front court. Sullinger and Olynyk, this year’s first round pick, are both very skilled offensively but huge defensive liabilities. Faverani is a total unknown, but he also the only true center on the roster. He’ll make the team, but don’t expect much production.
The Celtics are going to need young players to step up, and Bradley in particular has to improve. This team looks destined for the lottery, so youth development is a high priority.