It’s official. The Boston Celtics have moved the heart and soul of Beantown in Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. In return, the Celtics get to unload some contracts, gather draft picks for the future and add respectable talent in forwards Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries to a young lineup – with a young coach in recently hired Brad Stevens – that is sure to be desperate for leadership.
With the big roster shakeup, the 2013-14 rotation is up in the air for the C’s. Two starters and a former sixth man of the year in Jason Terry are gone, and Rajon Rondo is recovering from a torn ACL.
Let’s assume that Danny Ainge doesn’t unload Wallace or Hunphries, he doesn’t find a true center through free agency or trades, and Rondo will be back for opening tip. If the roster stays as is, Head Coach Brad Stevens is going to have a tough time juggling who starts, who comes off the bench, who gets minutes and who doesn’t.
There is no doubt that in any starting lineup the Celtics use, Rondo, Bradley and Green will be starting. To start the season at least, rookie and summer league star Kelly Olynyk will be playing off the bench and in limited minutes. Sullinger and Bass should expect to see quality floor time, but it is hard to say who will play what role because of the traffic jam the Celtics currently have at the power forward position. With those parameters set, here as some hypothetical rotation situations the C’s could use and the positives and negatives of going with each look.
Starting backcourt: Rondo, Bradley. Starting frontcourt: Wallace, Green, Hunmphries. Sixth man: Sullinger/Bass/Lee. Role players: Olynyk, Crawford, Bogans, Brooks, Randolph, Joseph.
This seems to be the most plausible starting five. With Humphries manning the middle at the center position at only 6’9”, the Celtics are going to be small compared to most of the league, but very athletic and fast.
With this look, the C’s would have a solid offensive attack in transition, which is something that has been missing in Boston for quite some time. What they would lack in size, they would make up for with pure athleticism.
The negative side of this lineup, aside from their size, is forcing Jeff Green to play out of position. Green has floated between the small forward and the power forward spots throughout his short NBA career, but when he was finally moved into the starting lineup at the small forward position last season, he flourished, leading the squad in points per game in the playoffs at 20.3 per night.
Starting guards: Rondo, Bradley. Starting frontcourt: Green, Bass/Humphries/Sullinger. Sixth man: Gerald Wallace. Role players: Bass/Humphries/Sullinger, Lee, Crawford, Olynyk, Bogans, Brooks, Randolph, Joseph.
No matter what look the Celtics go with, they are going to seem undersized. Both Sullinger and Bass have experience playing the center position as undersized big men, and it is reasonable to think that they will find themselves playing out of position again this season.
In this look, the Rondo, Bradley, Green combination has potential to rack up easy transition buckets. Green would be starting in his most comfortable and effective position and Gerald Wallace would be providing experience and star power off of the bench.
This lineup has the same issue that every Celtics lineup is seemingly going to have: They’re small. Brandon Bass is listed a 6’8” while Sullinger and Humphries are listed at 6’9”. For this look to work, transition offense would be the key.
Starting backcourt: Rondo, Bradley. Starting frontcourt: Lee, Green, Sullinger/Humphries. Sixth man: Wallace. Role players: Sullinger/Humphries, Lee, Crawford, Olynyk, Bogans, Brooks, Randolph, Joseph.
This look is as small as it’s going to get. Lee started much of last season, despite slumping and averaging just eight points in 25 minutes a night. His familiarity with Rondo and history of hitting the three, combined with his above average defense make him an option against athletic teams that can break down a defense in transition.
Again, the Celtics’ are going to be very small, and in this look their prized scorer in Green would be starting at the four, which is something Stevens and company should be looking to avoid.
While this look is very unlikely, a variation of the three guard look could be used to slow down transition offenses.
No matter the look, the Celtics are going to have to be patient with trying to find their identity. This is an entirely new squad, and with the new roster comes a new era of Boston Celtics basketball.