Who should be the Celtics’ Back-Up Point Guard?


Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo during media day at the Celtics training facility. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

Let me be one of the first to say, the Celtics lack a true point guard to back up Rajon Rondo. Rondo is in my mind, the best point guard by definition in the league. He makes the game of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett a whole lot better with him on the court.  Rondo is a top the NBA in assists and has shown tremendous improvement in his jump-shot, evident from his performances against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. To add to the list of his basketball gifts, Rondo is also a very skillful defender and has the athleticism to convert a turnover into an easy fast break bucket.

Now the big question for the Celtics this off-season is who can Doc Rivers rely on to handle to ball for the ten minutes Rondo isn’t in the game. Since the  Celtics are a slow half-court based offense, leadership and management skills are necessary for any ball handler. Keyon Dooling’s departure casts a curse for the Celtics who are quite loaded with depth at the shooting guard position.

Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, and Courtney Lee are all above average shooting guards that definitely have their unique characteristics. I’m going to analyze who would be the most appropriate back-up for Rondo when it comes to ball handling and for those games Rondo might miss due to his vulnerability of being injured.

Jason Terry

Many forget that Jason Terry had a very good season last year. He averaged around fifteen points per game and close to four assists. Terry did some ball handling for the Mavericks last year especially when Jason Kidd was on the bench. Terry brings in experience where it most needed, at the point guard position.

Lets start with Terry’s case for being Rondo’s back-up. First off, he has the most experience in general especially at the point guard position versus the much younger Bradley and Lee. A large factor for Doc Rivers to consider especially because he likes to put in a lot of schemes during half-court offense. A point guard has to facilitate directions to a team especially vital for the Celtics who often get into very close games. The point guard is the most important position and if Rondo were to go down, the Celtics need a confident ball handler who can make plays.

Jason Terry is notorious around the league for his clutch shooting and had the responsibility of being the second option behind Dirk Nowitzki during the last two  minutes of a game. The Celtics have a closer in Paul Pierce, but sharp shooting by Jet Terry can be a lethal combination that could give the C’s several victories.

Avery Bradley

To many of the Celtics’ most dedicated fans, Avery Bradley is the answer for the Celtics two-guard position. That’s probably true considering he plays like a shooting guard more than a point guard.

Bradley is a relentless defensive specialist who could make a case as being as a good of defender as Ron Artest back in hay day with Indiana. He plays up tight against players like Kobe and D-Wade and makes every one of their shots a tough, contested shot. He definitely can handle the point guards like Chris Paul, Deron Williams, and Russell Westbrook because of his quickness and great hands to get in front of the ball. Obviously if you need defense at the point guard position, I’d take Bradley over Lee or Terry.

However, the one drawback I have about Bradley is his lack of experience and his iffy jump shot. If I was a coach and needed a few buckets to overcome a deficit and have my star point guard in the bench, I would want my point guard to rally my team by scoring a few points and handing off a few assists. Bradley still needs to develop his passing game and shoot off the dribble much better.

Courtney Lee

I know alot about Courtney Lee from his brief season campaign with the New Jersey Nets. Lee is a stud role player who can erupt for fifteen points. Lee came into the NBA forefront when he led an Orlando Magic team to the Finals when Jameer Nelson went down. Yes, I’ll admit Lee was overhyped and was valued way to high for the Nets to ultimately trade star Vince Carter for him.

Let’s talk about his value to the Celtics. Lee brings a great slasher and could bring some versatility at the shooting guard position. He a slightly above average defender and he is a very good off the dribble scorer. Lee might be the best offensive player from the three that are being described.

However the one knack I have about Lee is his lack of leadership and overall doesn’t fit to be a very good point guard. Lee isn’t someone who makes his teammates better, he’s just another tool Doc Rivers could use to score baskets. Lee has to drastically improve his intangibles and his passing if he ever wants to be a primary ball handler in the league.

The Verdict:

Jason Terry posing on Media Day for the Celtics. Credit: Greg M. Cooper-US PRESSWIRE

If I could pick any of the combination of Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, and Courtney Lee to be my primary ball handler when Rajon Rondo is not on the court, I would go with Jason Terry.

Terry brings the most to the table when it comes to being the floor general for the most orchestrated team in the league, the Boston Celtics. Terry is an above average passer and brings his leadership to a team who demands perfection and discipline. He is a proven champion and thus being the only of the three mentioned with a championship with a ring.

Jason Terry can play the role of coming off the bench and directing a team and plays well with a very good shooting big man such as Kevin Garnett. Terry is the premier back up point guard any team would want and can very easily score twenty points and a pick up a few dimes.