Lineup versatility is a strength that the 2021-22 Boston Celtics possess. Just one season ago, Daniel Theis was playing out of position at power forward alongside Tristan Thompson before being traded midseason.
This season, there will be none of that…even if the Cs decide to go big again.
And if you ask HoopsHabit’s Holden Walter-Warner, Boston could well be planning on doing just that.
In ranking all 5 members of the Boston Celtics starting lineup, Walter-Warner listed Al Horford at #5 and Robert Williams at #4.
With Horford in Theis’ place, Ime Udoka can go big without sacrificing spacing considering Horford’s career 36% 3-point conversion rate. Horford is also a superior facilitator to Theis, especially at the 4. He has averaged over three times as many assists in his career as the German big man.
As for the ‘Time Lord’, Williams looks to finally lock down the starting center position after three years of showing in spurts that he is ready for that role.
Truthfully, the biggest drawback to Williams reaching those heights has been his checkered injury history. Year in and year out since 2018, the first-round pick has had to miss time for a variety of reasons ranging from his ankles to his toes to his hips.
This past offseason, newly implemented President of Basketball Operations Brad Stevens stocked up on talent worthy of starting. Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, and Juan Hernangomez were all starters last season in Los Angeles, Dallas, and Minnesota, respectively, but may end up on the Cs second unit. Aaron Nesmith and Romeo Langford were both starting at times late last season as well but they too may have to wait before they can crack the starting lineup in this scenario.
Starting games big doesn’t mean Horford and Williams are tethered together, either. Having a strong rim presence could be the best way start games off on the right foot and would be an easily justifiable move by Udoka, but the two are probably still best at the 5.
Successfully staggering the two each game, mixing in Enes Kanter and Bruno Fernando on occasion, could result in great things. Count the Houdini in for seeing Horford and Williams start games together in a supersized starting lineup.