Projecting Each 2012-13 Boston Celtics Player's Minutes Per Game
The key to the Boston Celtics' success is efficient management of playing time. Talent and skill are nothing without the proper balance of minutes.
Head coach Doc Rivers is faced with the challenge of utilizing all of his weapons while keeping his best players fresh. Veterans Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are core players, but their legs tire easily compared to their younger counterparts. Rivers must find a way to maximize their ability without overworking them.
During the offseason, general manager Danny Ainge made it a goal to increase the team's depth and versatility. By picking up players like Jason Terry and Courtney Lee, Boston is a better team than last year. Many players can play multiple positions, which makes Rivers' job a little easier.
With the wide variety of talent and ages, how will the Celtics balance their minutes in the 2012-13 season?
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Projection: 34 minutes per game
Without a doubt, Rajon Rondo's minutes will be the highest of any Celtic again next season. Last year, he led the team with 36.9 minutes per game. That number will slightly drop because of the new depth at the guard position.
Rondo hardly seems to get fatigued, so 34 minutes per game will suit him well. He needs to be the No. 1 player in Boston if the team plans on being a true contender. Although his backups are much more capable of continuing his pace than in previous years, Rondo will still play a majority of the game.
Projection: 32 minutes per game
Brandon Bass' role on the team is crucial to the team's success because he is consistent. Due to his consistency on both sides on the ball, his contribution to the Celtics has increased over the last year.
Bass is still young and improving, so he can benefit from the high amount of minutes too. He posted career numbers last season, but still hasn't even reached his peak yet. He averaged 12.5 points and 6.2 rebounds last year. With his spot as starting power forward, Bass is poised to enter his prime next year.
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett
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Projection: 30 minutes per game
Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett were second and third, respectively, on the team for games played and started. They each played 60 or more games, trailing only behind Avery Bradley.
As his age increases, Pierce's minutes will decrease. The same logic applies to Garnett as well. In an attempt to keep his veterans' legs fresh for the postseason, Doc Rivers will try to conserve their energy as much as he can during the regular season. The versatility on the bench allows him to do this.
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Projection: 29 minutes per game
Courtney Lee rounds out Boston's starting five this season at shooting guard (at least to begin the season). Although he won't crack 30 minutes per game this season, it's not because of his lack of skill or ability. The Celtics are just deep at his position, so there's no need for Lee to stay on the court for a long period of time.
Once Avery Bradley returns to the team from injury, he will most likely slide back into his starting spot and send Lee to the bench. Even after the change, Lee will still put in 20-30 minutes per night because of the amount of depth on the team.
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Projection: 29 minutes per game
After Avery Bradley returns from last year's season-ending injury, he is expected to resume his new role as starting shooting guard. Bradley started 28 games last year, filling in for Ray Allen as he struggled with an ankle injury.
Bradley's youthful energy combined with his lockdown perimeter defense will keep him on the floor. Although he's known for his tough defense, his offensive game also increased greatly last season. Bradley may not average 20 points per game, but his all-around production has earned him every minute.
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Projection: 25 minutes per game
The former Sixth Man of the Year will continue his bench role in Boston. As the leader of the bench, Jason Terry will put in roughly 23 minutes a night.
Terry will thrive in his position as Boston's instant offensive threat off the bench. He's played that role considerably well over the years, and he is exactly what the Celtics need to improve their second string.
Last year in Dallas, Terry scored 15.1 points in 31.7 minutes per game and shot 43 percent. If the Celtics get that type of production from him, opposing teams should dread playing Boston.
Jason Collins and Jared Sullinger
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Projection: 20 minutes per game
As the backup center and power forward, Jason Collins and Jared Sullinger both have considerable roles on the Celtics.
With only two players taller than 6'11", it's obvious that this year's version of the Celtics lacks size. At 7'0", Collins' presence will be needed in the post, especially against bigger teams. Kevin Garnett is the starting center, but he will most likely take frequent rests to preserve his energy and legs.
Sullinger is second on the depth chart behind Brandon Bass. The rookie's ability to rebound effectively will get him plenty of playing time late in games, especially on a Celtics team that has notoriously struggled with grabbing boards.
Chris Wilcox, Keyon Dooling and Kris Joseph
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Projection: 13 minutes per game
Chris Wilcox played sparingly for the Detroit Pistons over the last two seasons, and he will do the same in second year in Boston. He still managed to average nearly six points and four rebounds per game. Even though his minutes will be low, his energy during that time will still be high.
Keyon Dooling's role on the Celtics has diminished due to the incredible depth that the team now has. Although he was impressive in last year's playoffs, he has fallen on the depth chart. Despite his decreased minutes, expect Dooling to contribute greatly on defense. His intense style fits perfectly with the Celtics.
Kris Joseph is a rookie small forward coming off the bench for Paul Pierce. He still needs to prove himself in the NBA, but should see minimal playing time when Pierce rests on the bench.
Fab Melo, Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas
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Projection: 8 minutes per game
As a rookie center, Fab Melo shouldn't expect to see as much playing time as he had in college. Doc Rivers is known for sticking with what works best, so Kevin Garnett and Jason Collins will both have considerable minutes over Fab Melo.
Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas will also see minimal playing time on the Celtics. Boston is deep with talent at the guard position, so Smith and Christmas will have to take a back seat to Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Jason Terry.