Point Guard: Rajon Rondo, Phil Pressey, Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford
We know the Celtics starting Point guard will be Rajon Rondo once he returns from his injury. However, in his absence there are multiple players who could contribute at the spot. Phil Pressey, the undrafted rookie out of Missouri is the only other true Point Guard on this roster.
But I think he will struggle early due to the increase of competition he will face. He played well in the summer league and if he performs well in training camp he could take the floor as the starter on opening night. If he struggles, look for him to be a player off the bench or possibly a player who does not dress and pays his dues until he grasps the offensive and defensive concepts.
Avery Bradley, the man who replaced Rondo last season after he went down, is probably the favorite to earn the starting nod. His offensive game needs to begin to improve this season to help shoulder the scoring gap left by Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett.
He is one of the best defensive players in the league, and can use that to his advantage as his offensive game comes along this season. With two healthy shoulders and an increase in muscle during the off season, expect Avery to have a huge role in filling the point guard spot in Rondo’s absence.
Jordan Crawford is not an ideal choice by most Celtics fans after seeing him put up too many off balance or fade away shots throughout his tenure with Boston. Danny Ainge called Jordan Crawford possibly the best passer on the team last season.
Jordan may be able to contribute due to his ability to drive and kick out to the open man. But he needs to drop the tendency of forcing a shot that has no reason to be forced. If he begins to show maturity he could be a key piece in replacing Rondo in his absence.
The point guard battle is probably going to come down to which of these players picks up Brad Stevens system the quickest and executes it the best.
Prediction: Avery Bradley will probably get the nod because of his defense while Jordan Crawford will back him up. Phil Pressey will either not dress or be a reserve off of the bench.
Shooting Guard: Courtney Lee, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford
The key shooting guard battle is going to come down to Courtney Lee and MarShon Brooks. Lee might end up getting the nod because of his ability to shoot the three ball and play defense, but MarShon is an intriguing prospect.
His rookie season he played tremendous, showcasing his offensive abilities while averaging 12.6 points per game. But with the addition of Joe Johnson his role significantly decreased. He now has the ability to out perform Lee in camp and take over the shooting guard position while Rondo is out.
He will have to make a significant step on the defensive end to overtake Lee. With the back court of Bradley and Lee expect the Celtics to have one of the better defensive guard units in the league.
Prediction: Once Rondo returns, expect Avery Bradley to shift back to his normal starting shooting guard spot. Jordan Crawford can also see minutes here sporadically throughout the season if he does not perform well in the point guard spot.
Small Forward: Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace
With the face of the franchise for the last decade gone, it is officially time for Jeff Green to take over. We saw in last year’s playoffs that he was becoming the go-to option in the Celtics offense. He will now become the number one offensive player on this roster and will have the biggest target on his back to perform.
The Celtic faithful have high expectations of Green, and with his renowned athletic ability and improving confidence he could become one of the better scoring forwards in the Eastern Conference. He is going to get a lot of touches due to Rondo’s absence and is going to have many chances with the ball to make plays.
Green will have the upper hand in a lot of small forward battles due to his size and strength. He needs to improve on his rebounding since this team is so small. Gerald Wallace was brought over in the Brooklyn trade that surged the rebuilding process in Boston.
He is going to need to show maturity in the situation he is in and try to become a mentor. Due to his age and rapid decline over the past few seasons, you can’t really expect him to shoulder the load he did when he was in Charlotte a few years ago.
Prediction: Gerald Wallace is going to come off the bench behind Jeff and will definitely be the good defensive player he has been in the past. He is the only back up small forward so expect him to get decent minutes behind Green unless the Celtics decide to play smaller line ups.
Power Forward: Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Kris Humphries
The Celtics front court is one of the most undecided in the league. Their are so many options for the players, and Brad Stevens is going to have a tough time piecing together each players role. With the summer league performance Kelly Olynyk had, the fans are calling for him to see minutes.
A player that might have had small expectations, now has had those increased significantly. Kelly has the size and offensive ability to play a big role in the front court. However he needs to improve his rebounding and his frame could use some more muscle so he can bang with the other front court players across the league. I expect him to start the season coming off the bench.
But if some of the other players struggle he could easily bounce into the starting lineup once the season starts. Jared Sullinger is ready to forget his off season troubles and get back to basketball. Coming off of back surgery, I expect him to start slow but perform on par and maybe even better than he did last season. He has a good chance of starting on opening night, but it depends if Brad Stevens decides to go with a small lineup.
The lack of depth and experience at the center position could cause them to play a small front court. Kris Humphries, the man brought over from Brooklyn, has been berated by fans since he arrived (myself as well). He is in a contract year and could perform above expectations to get a new deal from Boston or somewhere else. He averaged a double-double only two seasons ago.
I expect him to have a big role in rebounding on this small team. If he picks up Brad Stevens system and earns the respect of his teammates it is very possible he starts opening night. And finally, Brandon Bass, the 27 year old has hunkered down the power forward spot the last two seasons.
He has constantly been used as Boston’s defensive stopper in the playoffs against the likes of Carmelo Anthony and Lebron James. He has a solid offensive game, and rebounds well.
Prediction: If Brandon Bass performs in camp like he has on the court the last two seasons, I fully expect him to start at power forward.
Center: Vitor Faverani, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger
Vitor Faverani is the only true center on the roster. He has the size and ability of a true center. He has no prior NBA experience and will probably struggle early on with his defensive assignments. He has good athleticism and scoring ability.
I don’t expect him to start but as he learns the game in the NBA and garners experience he could become a solid contributor as the season progresses. Jared Sullinger does not have the size, but he does have the strength and body build to play center. He also proved a more than capable rebounder last year.
Prediction: With his toughness and willingness to win I expect Jared to start at center on opening night. But if he is bothered by injury again expect Vitor to fill his spot.
By Dustin Lewis