During their 99-86 win Monday night over the Phoenix Suns, it became clear that the Boston Celtics are still looking for answers from the bench.
For the Boston Celtics, a majority of their production thus far into the 2019-20 season has come from the team’s starting lineup. With guys like Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward/ Marcus Smart, and Daniel Theis, there’s no wonder the unit has been so menacing.
Specifically, the starters scored 76 of the 99 points accumulated during Monday night’s victory over the Phoenix Suns. And while we can all boast about how great Boston’s starting lineup has been during their first 13 games of the season, a statistic like this is not one that will lead to sustainable success.
Off the bench, Head Coach Brad Stevens looked to backup point guard Brad Wanamaker as the sixth man. He logged 30 minutes and scored a solid 10 points. He’s not the best offensive or defensive player, but he can be serviceable on both sides of the ball, and has shown development in his jump shot and decision-making. Lots of Boston Celtics fans dislike Wanamaker because he isn’t the flashiest or toughest player, but he’s solid and a good piece to have off the bench.
Also included in the bench’s back court, rookie Carsen Edwards has seen extended playing time as of late as a spark plug option. He hasn’t been very successful so far, only shooting 35.3% from the field, but the potential is there for him to become a productive sixth man in the future. He went 1-5 and scored 4 points in only 11 minutes Monday night.
In the past two games, Semi Ojeleye has earned playing time that was previously lost at the start of the season, mainly due to the resurrection of his three point shot.
He went 3-4 from downtown on Sunday afternoon against the Kings and hit his only three point attempt in Phoenix. His defense has always been stellar, so if he can become a successful three point threat, he’ll certainly find his way into the rotation.
After rookie Grant Williams’ explosive start to the season, he fell off a bit, not earning any playing time in the Boston Celtics loss to Sacramento. However, on the second night of the back-to-back, Williams proved his worth, recording two blocks and a +/- of +18 in 18 minutes of action. He can be a versatile defender, but he still needs to find his way on offense, as he has not made a single three pointer so far this year.
Second year big man Robert Williams has had his share of highs and lows. He often finds himself lost on both sides of the floor, yet he also seems to make an athletic alley-oop to spark a Celtics rally. He is one of the best rebounders on the team, earning him consistent minutes off the bench.
Newcomer Enes Kanter hasn’t found his role on the team yet, getting only five minutes in which should be an easy match up versus backup Suns center Frank Kaminsky. He can be a productive offensive center, yet his defensive liabilities will be exposed by the right team, making it difficult for him to earn extended playing time. Look for Stevens to rely on Theis and both Grant and Robert Williams later in the year.
Although Javonte Green didn’t earn minutes in Phoenix Monday night, he has shown the capability to be an athletic 3-and-D wing — something that is becoming more and more valuable in the league. He will get his fair share of opportunities in the upcoming games, especially with Gordon Hayward being injured until Christmas.
Finally, rookie Vincent Poirier also didn’t earn playing time, but it’s possible for him to make an impact on the team. Many of the Boston bigs are injury prone, meaning it is likely he’ll have to step in to major minutes sometime this season. Look for him to be a rim-running center, as he’s the only true seven-footer on the team.
The Boston Celtics are looking for answers in terms of bench production, and simply put, they haven’t found it yet. Each player has looked good in certain games, yet coach Stevens hasn’t found anyone to rely on to get easy points in the second unit.
Personally, I think Stevens will continue to experiment with deep rotations until something sticks. There are lots of quality players on this team, but it remains to be seen which of them can contribute consistently and effectively.
Who do you trust to be productive off the bench for the Boston Celtics? Let us know in the comment section below!