On October 17, the Boston Celtics more or less previewed what their rotation will be when the 2023-24 season starts: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, Derrick White, Al Horford, Payton Pritchard (without question!), Sam Hauser, and a smidge of Luke Kornet.
While that’s who Joe Mazzulla will likely start out with in his rotation, the new wings that the Celtics brought in have shown a little something.
How the Boston Celtics’ four new wings could break into the rotation
Because the Boston Celtics summer started with the high-profile acquisition of Porzingis and ended with another high-profile acquisition with Holiday, their stocking up on wings in between then fell under the radar. However, since preseason started, they’ve gotten to see what Oshae Brissett, Dalano Banton, Svi Mykhailiuk, and Lamar Stevens can do under the microscope, and what they’ve done shouldn’t be swept under the rug.
Indeed, these four didn’t come to the Celtics with an unflinching reputation, but it’s not like they were training camp bodies fighting for their NBA lives. Excluding Stevens (who is likely making the team anyway), the Boston Celtics brought these guys in with partially or fully guaranteed contracts. Plus, despite all four of them playing the same position, more or less, they bring their own unique NBA-caliber skills to the table.
With that said, let’s evaluate how each of these wings could break through, starting with the biggest standout of them all.
Svi has left quite the impression in his first two games with the Celtics thus far. His quick trigger, deadeye accuracy from deep, competent ballhandling, playing within the flow of the offense, and… having legit hops(?!) have all culminated in him standing out like a sore thumb.
Even if the hot shooting is sure to go down, Svi has stood out so much that “Svi or Hauser?” has become a heated debate among Celtics fans, even if that can be partially attributed to bored fans wanting the season to start already.
Although part of that can be attributed to Hauser’s shooting struggles, let’s just get this out of the way. Until Hauser completely loses Mazzulla’s trust, Joe is going with the guy he trusted for most of last season. However, in the words of Tony Stark…
Playing two sharpshooting wings in the second unit simultaneously isn’t too farfetched. Plus, remember when Hauser’s three-ball disappeared for a stretch there last season? Well, now they have a backup plan with Svi in case it happens again.
Mykhailiuk may very well usurp Hauser in the rotation, but it would take him looking that good and Hauser looking that bad for Mazzulla to make such a shift. Judging from Hauser being much more heavily involved in their latest game against the Knicks, he’ll have first dibs, but Svi’s presence will make him work to keep it.
Despite having the size of a wing, Banton joined the Celtics known best for his abilities as a point guard. Banton, who took after former Celtics star Rajon Rondo, has shown himself to be the exact player that the Celtics used one of their roster spots in the best ways…
And the worst ways.
Having a six-foot-seven point guard who has shown himself some touch around the basket is an intriguing prospect because of how rare that skill set is, jumper or not. Despite the Celtics clearly putting an emphasis on floor-spacing, Banton’s never going to help them in that respect. The silver lining, though, is that Banton has a plethora of floor spacers to potentially even out that issue.
Sadly though, while Banton may pattern his game after the likes of Rondo, his consistency level during the preseason has rivaled that of prime Jeff Green. Outside of that one Knicks performance, he has not done much else. Banton gives theBoston Celtics another ballhandler and a long, athletic one at that. In case the Celtics are down Holiday or White or Pritchard for a time, Banton could get his shot to prove he can put it together.
Of all the wings the Celtics brought in, Brissett will likely get the first crack into the rotation, seeing as he’s the only one on a fully guaranteed contract. Brissett has not wowed Boston Celtics fans like Mykhailuk or gotten them excited about his potential as Banton did. But Brissett has had his moments where he lived up to his reputation as an energy player.
Brissett did not come to Boston with a reputation for being a good shooter – and he hasn’t disproven that in the preseason – but his energy has been readily apparent. The best way to describe Brissett would be “Aaron Nesmith with brakes,” which opens up a whole lot of irony, seeing how Brissett became expendable in Indiana because of Nesmith.
The Celtics may also see if Brissett could replace Grant Williams as a possible backup five. Brissett has some experience in that department, having played 19% of his minutes at center during the 2021-22 season with the Pacers, per Basketball-Reference. Given how uncertain Celtics fans are about the frontcourt rotation, Brissett’s potential emergence as a small-ball five could put their worries to bed.
It should be mentioned that even if he doesn’t pan out, Brissett is one media-savvy guy. On that alone, Celtics fans will probably love him. Just listen to what he had to say about the Celtics jersey he plans to frame on one of his Instagram pages.
It’s hard to differentiate Stevens from Brissett because they are both high-energy guys also known for being tough perimeter defenders. While some may give the Celtics flak for getting two of the same player, it goes back to Hauser and Svi – what’s wrong with having two of them? Stevens has also shown a little more offensive savvy than Brissett. So much so that Celtics media has compared his scoring to Celtics stars and alumni.
Combined with what he brings defensively, one can’t help but ask, nobody seriously wanted this guy?
Much like Brissett and Banton, Stevens isn’t going to win any three-point shooting competitions anytime soon, but he could feel more at home in the mid-range and on a post-up when paired up with other shooters on the team.
Stevens did not appear in the Celtics’ latest game against the Knicks, which could indicate where he stands with the Boston Celtics. While he will likely make the team, he may not be used unless the other options fail. However, as far as end-of-the-bench guys go, the Cs could have done much worse.
Jordan Walsh could also be included here, but the Cs added several players who play his position, he’s a rookie, and he hasn’t gotten much time during the preseason — which would indicate that the Celtics aren’t going to throw the kid to the wolves just yet. Walsh has intrigue, but expect him to play out most of the season in Maine, pending any unfortunate injuries.
From their latest preseason game against the Knicks, the Boston Celtics likely showed who will be featured in their rotation to start. However, at the very least, should injuries be an issue, their depth and versatility on the wing have shown to be good enough to withstand any curveballs thrown their way.