So, I can’t be the only Celtics fan who was excited when I heard Jared Sullinger’s father’s quote about what Danny Ainge promised his son at the beginning of the offseason. Wow! A “true”, full-fledged center. A guy that could be over 6’8, defend, rebound, and could slide guys like Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger to their natural position.
Now it’s only August, so I could be eating my own words soon, but what we got was pretty much more of the same. We didn’t get any centers that were free agents, we had to keep Joel Anthony because of that player option in his deal, we lost Kris Humphries and replaced him with Tyler Zeller, and kept all the other forward-centers we had throughout the season (Bass, Sully, Olynyk, Faverani).
Forget about the “fireworks”, I really thought we were at least going to work hard to get a quality center. I didn’t see us getting a Dwight Howard or a Marc Gasol, but when I saw this quote from papa Sullinger, my first thought was maybe Embiid might be sliding to us in the draft? Or maybe we might be after the Wizards’ Gortat. Or at worst, we might be getting a player that could fill that Kendrick Perkins role he had back in 2008.
Well despite what I wished what would happen during the offseason, we’ve got to work with what we got. And in reality it isn’t really as bad as I’m making it. We might not have that elite shot-blocker I was hoping for, but we do have a lot of good talent that bring different things to the table. Let’s go over the best options Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has at the center position:
Celtics Option #1 – Tyler Zeller
According to ESPN, Tyler has chosen the number 44. Other notable 44ers include: Pete Maravich, Danny Ainge, and our favorite, Brian “White Mamba” Scalabrine. Zeller will have some trouble living up to those former Celtics, but the newly acquired young man is an intriguing talent. In fact, he was the 17th pick in a LOADED 2012 draft class that included Bradley Beal, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, etc. What he doesn’t have in defense and strength, Tyler more than makes up for in his mobility as a 7-footer, as you can see in this video:
Zeller is one of the most agile 7-footers in the league. He also has a pretty reliable 15-20 foot jump shot and is an underrated rebounder. Tyler at the center position with Jared at the four, would be my favorite option for the Celtics as the roster stands now.
Celtics Option #2 – Sullinger and Olynyk
Michael Pena, columnist from Bleacher Report, did a great job giving us the numbers. When Olynyk and Sullinger shared the court together last year, the Celtics scored 106.8 points per 100 possessions on offense, 7.1 points more than the team’s average. Those numbers to me make sense for the offensively talented duo. Both of these guys can shoot the ball and both beat their opponent with their skill set, not their athleticism. And for all you defense gurus out there, when KO and Sully were on the court together, the Celtics only allowed 101.9 points per 100 possessions, compared to the team’s average of 105.2 points per 100 possessions. Those defensive numbers are surprising to me! Both of these players aren’t really that long or put the fear in our opponent’s offense, but numbers never lie. On the other hand, this is a small sample size, they only shared the court together for a total of 542 minutes and only 57 games. In the end, this wouldn’t be a bad option for us, and this could be our frontcourt for many years to come! I just think, since we were pretty much handed Zeller this offseason, why not start Zeller and have Olynyk bolster our bench?
Celtics Option #3 – Emergency Situations
Say if KO or Zeller gets injured, what would we do then? Hopefully Vitor Faverani will be healed up by then. El Hombre Indestructible is a favorite in my book, because he can finish with the big boys in the league and has a KG-type mentality. The mentality that says, “Be my guest entering the paint, just know that whether you make the shot or not, you’ll end up on the floor”. I also like possibly going really small if it comes to this option, putting Jeff Green at the four and shifting Sully/Olynyk/Zeller/Faverani to the center position. We all know that lately in the NBA, small lineups have been implemented on multiple teams. The last two champions, the Heat and the Spurs both won with small lineups. This allows the pace of the game to go up, and spaces the floor better with all the extra shooting that’s put on the court.
Let me know what Celtics Nation thinks! #HardwoodHoudini