With the season starting this week, lets take a look at the young Celtics team, who will look to return to the playoffs after losing in the first round last season.
Point Guard – Marcus Smart:
There are really only two options for starting point guard, Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas. Thomas is Boston’s best scorer without question, and may just be a better player than Smart right now. Based on what we saw last season though, Thomas seems best suited for the sixth man role. In the postseason series with Cleveland, Thomas struggled defensively and offensively being an undersized point guard. Having Thomas come off the bench in the sixth man role and leader of the second unit, his skill set will be utilized in the best way possible. With Marcus Smart in the starting role, he has the chance to build upon his up and down rookie campaign. Last year Smart was tenacious on defense but was inconsistent offensively. On a team loaded with young talent, Smart has more potential than anyone and giving him the starting role will help him get closer to reaching his maximum potential.
Shooting Guard – Avery Bradley:
While the Celtics have a crowded backcourt, the choice of who to start at shooting guard is a pretty simple one. The Celtics backcourt players include rookies RJ Hunter and Terry Rozier, second year James Young, and Evan Turner. This young backcourt makes Avery Bradley a lock at starting the SG position. With Bradley you know what you’re getting, lock down defense, a relatively consistent midrange game, and corner threes. Bradley is known around the league for his defense and the tandem of him and an improved Smart should make for one of the best defensive backcourts in the NBA.
Small Forward – Jae Crowder:
Evan Turner will see some starts at small forward during the year because of his ball handling abilities. Last year we saw Turner play a lot of forward and likely we will see that same trend again, however Evan Turner will not be in the starting lineup on opening night. Jae Crowder became the heart and soul type of guy that Boston fans love so much. Other then being a fan favorite, Crowder played an important role in getting the Celtics into the playoffs. Crowder will rarely wow you with flashy plays or scoring outburst, but he is a grit and grind type of player that impacts the players around him. Crowder has drawn lots of comparisons to DeMarre Carroll, who was a breakout player for Atlanta last year, so don’t be surprised if we see Crowder boasting similar numbers.
Power Forward – David Lee:
Power forward is probably the toughest to call with a plethora of talent at the position and no clear leader. Jared Sullinger got most of the starts at the power forward position for the Celtics last season, but he will be fighting for playing time in the crowded frontcourt due to new acquisitions during the offseason. Amir Johnson and David Lee were both acquired over the summer and will be fighting for the starting role along with Sully. Amir Johnson is the best defender and most athletic out of the three, Sully has looked like he is in better shape than last year but only time will tell, and David Lee is the most polished offensively. Brad Stevens seemed to like starting David Lee at power forward during the preseason and the best bet would be to say that trend continues. It will be the 2013 NBA All-Star getting the start for the Celtics on opening night, but don’t be surprised if he doesn’t hold that starting job very long.
Center – Tyler Zeller:
With just Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk as options for starting center (unless the Head Coach Brad Stevens wants to play small ball) it is almost a wash between the two in terms of what they add to the starting lineup. Zeller was a pleasant surprise last year; he played consistently and better than people expected. Olynyk, on the other hand, was very inconsistent and that is going to cost him the starting roll going into the season. Tyler Zeller is just a better fit for the starting role as we saw Brad Stevens start him most games this preseason.
PG – Marcus Smart
SG – Avery Bradley
SF – Jae Crowder
PF – David Lee
C – Tyler Zeller