The Boston Celtics have an unsettled roster and that could lead to some fundamental rotation changes for Stevens
The Boston Celtics went through tremendous changes this offseason, and the rotation is going to be all over the place to start the season. The starting unit should expect changes and the bench will be going in a lot of different directions.
One thing that has been consistent during Brad Stevens’ tenure is a deep rotation. He always limited the minutes of even his best players, keeping them fresh for the most important parts of the game and embracing every part of his bench.
Stevens has continually made use of every roster spot, with maybe one or two players that only saw garbage time minutes.
Stevens used a deep rotation to keep his best players fresh, but he also used it to make up for having less talent. At the beginning, the Celtics were always considered overachievers and one of the biggest reason is by getting that second unit edge, and making sure his players were more rested than the opponent.
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Stevens knew his top end talent could not do it by themselves, and he found ways to use every bit of talent on the roster to make up for it.
Now, things have changed. The Celtics have brought in the kind of top end talent that can compete with everyone, and it might be time for Stevens to shorten up the rotation, giving the extra minutes to those top guys.
First of all, it is going to be really hard for Stevens to limit the minutes of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward to preserve them for the more important minutes of the game. That being said, if Stevens is able to get a huge boost from his bench, then they could be better off sticking to that plan, at least for the regular season.
The problem is that the bench could be a massive mess for a large part of the regular season. It is almost all new faces on the second unit, and everyone is young. Not only do the key players need time to develop and grow as NBA players, but it could take Stevens some time to figure out how to work these pieces together.
Marcus Smart will be a major factor too. If Smart is on the second unit, then that will take off a fair amount of the pressure from the starting unit carrying everything. Smart is the one player the Celtics can trust to hold things together on that second unit.
If Smart is running that unit, then Stevens will have a lot more freedom to use a deep rotation. Smart will be able to run things with a lot of their depth, and that may not be the case for the rest.
If Smart is not running that unit, then the support around that primary ball handler, which would be Terry Rozier or even Jaylen Brown, will need to be much better. Stevens will not be able to give as many young players a chance to work through their issues if Smart is not there to hold things together.
At this point, you should definitely expect a shorter rotation than last season in terms of minutes used. The top end talent alone makes it difficult to justify spreading out the minutes, and the more pressure that is put onto the incredibly young second unit players will only make matters worse.
The Celtics have all their defined talent on the starting unit, and a lot of undefined talent on the second unit. Chances are the rotation can stay deep, but the way minutes are allocated will be different.
It will not be the starters having their minutes reduced and given to more bench players. Instead, the starters should see a minutes increase for the Celtics this season, while the top bench players will be sacrificing to give the rest of the bench opportunities.
Stevens has a lot of things to figure out on the second unit, and it will be difficult to do that with fewer minutes. Stevens should be using the starters and top players more this season than he has in the past, but he could end up using the most different amount of players on the second unit, at least until things are figured out.