Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett and the 6 Most Pivotal Players in 2012-13

Matthew SchmidtFeatured ColumnistAugust 22, 2012

Boston Celtics: Kevin Garnett and the 6 Most Pivotal Players in 2012-13

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    Boston Celtics fans seem to partake in this argument ad nauseam: who is the most important player on the Celtics? Is it Kevin Garnett? Is it Rajon Rondo? Is it Paul Pierce?

    Well, I think it's safe to say that Boston, just like any other team, has many pivotal players on its roster, and if even one of them falters or succumbs to injury, the team could be in trouble.

    So, with a new cast of characters donning Celtic green this coming season, who are the six most important players on the C's?

    Let's go through them, and remember that this is a list of the six most pivotal players for Boston—not necessarily the six best players.

6. Jason Collins

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    Hold on to your seat. Let me explain.

    The Celtics signed Collins for a reason: He is one of the best low-post defenders in the game.

    Don't believe me? Ask former Orlando Magic coach Stan Van Gundy, who once said Collins defends Dwight Howard better than anyone else in the league.

    With Andrew Bynum now in the division and Howard on a Los Angeles Lakers team Boston could potentially meet in the NBA Finals, having Collins becomes that much more important.

    This is a guy who is going to take a lot of the load off Garnett's shoulders this season, as K.G. was asked to do essentially everything in the frontcourt defensively this past year. The C's also lacked an intimidator in 2012, a guy who could deliver hard fouls to anyone who dared drive the lane.

    Well, now they have Collins for that.

    Don't underestimate how important of a signing this was. Collins is going to be huge against the Philadelphia 76ers and perhaps against the Lakers in June should the two teams get there. He might not play big minutes, but he will certainly help Garnett conserve energy for the postseason, and that is absolutely crucial.

5. Jason Terry

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    The Celtics will now have the fortune of owning two of the game's most clutch shooters: Paul Pierce and Jason Terry.

    Terry is well-known for being one of the best when the game is on the line, and he also is well-known for being one of the brashest and most confident players in the league.

    (Look no further than his recent championship guarantee to see that.)

    Perhaps what's even more important about Terry is that he brings something to the table that Ray Allen never really did: a transition game.

    Terry is a very good player in the open court, an area where Allen always seemed to struggle. Terry should represent a great running mate for Rondo, something the PG should have a lot of this coming year with Boston's new additions and injury returnees.

    The Jet should fit right into what always has been a very strong-willed Celtics locker room.

4. Avery Bradley

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    Yes, he might be out for the first two months of the season, but a healthy Bradley will pay gigantic dividends for the Celtics.

    This is a 21-year-old kid who already has stamped his name among the best perimeter defenders in the league, and that couldn't be more evidenced by the fact that Bradley gave Dwyane Wade fits both times he was matched up against him last season.

    Not only is Bradley a lock-down perimeter defender but he also has developed into a reliable three-point shooter, shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc in 2012. He shot 49.8 percent from the floor overall, demonstrating how efficient he is when he shoots the basketball (and let's remember that Bradley was seen as a guy who couldn't shoot when he first came into the league).

    It's going to be a lot of fun watching Bradley in his second full (well, kind of) season.

3. Paul Pierce

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    That brings us to the captain.

    He may be 34 going on 35, but Pierce remains one of the most lethal big-game players in the league, as evidenced by his dagger three in the grill of LeBron James in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals. Pierce's effectiveness in that series was severely limited by a sprained MCL, but he still managed to add yet another big shot to his ever-growing collection of them.

    The Truth isn't the most pivotal player on the Celtics anymore, but there is no denying that he is the heart and soul of that team, being Doc Rivers' go-to guy when Boston needs a bucket in crunch-time. He also is the guy who draws the assignment of defending LeBron, and Pierce's defense on James might be more important than anything he can provide offensively.

    With offseason additions such as Terry and Courtney Lee, Pierce's job will be made much simpler in 2012-13. The depth on the C's should allow him to be as fresh as possible when the playoffs roll around.

2. Rajon Rondo

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    Rondo is a popular choice for the No. 1 spot, but as good as he is, he isn't the most vital player on the Celtics.

    That being said, he is the engine of Boston's offense, as his court vision and ability to be in the right place at the right time are simply mind-boggling.

    Rondo is easily one of the most intelligent players in the NBA, and he is making the "Well, he is surrounded by Hall of Famers" argument more and more futile by the day.

    Rondo has to be at or near the top of his game for the C's to win a title, especially against the Miami Heat, a team to which he notoriously gives fits. He doesn't have to be dropping 44 points like he did in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, but Rondo does have to control the tempo and make life easier for Garnett, Pierce and the rest of the club.

    If only he could start hitting that mid-range jumper consistently...

1. Kevin Garnett

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    Again, I know many like Rondo in this spot, but it is very hard to make a concrete argument for Rondo over Garnett.

    K.G. is the backbone of what is consistently one of the top defenses in the league, and he was arguably the most valuable player of the postseason this past year, putting up ridiculous plus-minus numbers and clearly being the most impactful player on the Celtics.

    Garnett is one of those rare players who does anything and everything. He can play in the post, shoot, pass, handle the rock, rebound and play defense on any part of the floor.

    No, he is not the dominant force he once was as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves, but Garnett is still one of the best big men in the game and alters the game defensively like few other players in history have been able to do.

    Yes, Rondo is important, but K.G. is the man.