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Key Reserves: Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger, Chris Wilcox.
In the opinion of many fans and pundits, the Boston Celtics’ injury-plagued bench and lack of depth is what cost them a shot at playing for another NBA championship.
The Celtics’ front office clearly took this to heart as they went out and both signed and retained a number of players to give them what is, to me, the top second unit in the league.
The team retained Jeff Green and Chris Wilcox, drafted big men Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo and signed Courtney Lee and Jason Terry in order to give them a completely retooled rotation around the core of Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett or Paul Pierce.
Terry will assume Ray Allen’s sixth-man role but while Allen struggled to adjust to a spot on the pine, Terry thrives starting the game on the bench.
Last season, the 34-year-old averaged 15.1 points, 2.4 rebounds and 3.6 assists. He is capable of both scoring and facilitating and at this point is a better player than Allen, who will primarily be used as a long-distance shooter.
Lee will provide gritty perimeter defense and timely three-point shooting and gives Rondo an athletic running mate in the backcourt to play in transition. Along with Avery Bradley and Rondo, Lee gives Boston one of the best perimeter defensive units in the league.
Green missed the entirety of the 2011-2012 season due to an aortic aneurysm, but is a versatile frontcourt piece that can both back up the aging Paul Pierce and play alongside him as needed. Green can slash to the rim, shoot the three and guard multiple positions defensively. He’ll likely see the most minutes off the bench and will be a vital piece of the Celts’ frontcourt.
Sullinger and Wilcox will provide the muscle inside, helping to pace the boards and score down low. Sullinger is a bit of an X-factor but if he can live up to his potential, he could be the star of the future for Boston and the successor to Kevin Garnett. He’s an extremely polished post scorer who still has upside so long as his back holds up.
Boston obviously is not the Eastern Conference favorite with Miami retaining that title, but thanks to their star-studded starting lineup and their bolstered, multi-faceted bench unit they have earned the title of the clear-cut second best squad.
They can rest their starters during the regular season and so long as everyone stays healthy are as serious a title threat as any next season.