Grading Each Position Heading into Boston Celtics Training Camp
Doc Rivers is no doubt eager to get his players back onto the court, and a quick glance at the Boston Celtics' 2012-2013 roster will tell you why: The Celtics are stronger than ever before heading into camp.
Rivers and the Celtics head into training camp with a full roster and plenty of talent and depth at each position.
We know that Doc is excited; he has every reason to be.
And so do Celtics fans.
After a season plagued by injuries and a lack of depth, it looks like the Celtics won't be deprived of consistent scoring and defensive energy—and an actual bench. A loaded bench.
But let's try to contain our excitement for the time being as we assess each position on the Celtics' roster based on the team's current strength.
Point Guard: A
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Rajon Rondo is the Celtics' best player—just ask Danny Ainge.
So naturally, the point guard position gets an A.
Rondo will thrive this year because of the Celtics' addition of Courtney Lee and the return of Jeff Green.
It's no secret that Rondo thrives from playing an up-tempo style, something he couldn't do when running mate Avery Bradley was sidelined during last season's playoffs.
With Lee and Green running the floor, Doc Rivers can accommodate Rondo by assembling a combination of athletic lineups.
Rondo gets an A on his skill-set alone, but when you consider the weapons at his disposal, there's no debate.
Shooting Guard: B+
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Another player who will see some time at point guard this season is Jason Terry.
But he'll be play plenty of two guard as well—so we will classify him as such.
Terry will be delivering barrages of three-pointers on a nightly basis and will get plenty of looks when opposing defenders collapse on Rondo's dribble penetration.
And here's the best part: He will not even be in the starting lineup.
For now that job belongs to Courtney Lee.
Lee is a potent scorer in his own right, can run the floor and is a legitimate threat from downtown.
Lee brings down the grade for shooting guard a little bit because he has proven to be inconsistent offensively. He is not a great defender, but is definitely capable and has the tools (youth, athleticism) to thrive in Doc Rivers' defensive system.
Avery Bradley's absence for at least for the first month or two of the season also contributes to why shooting guard gets a B+.
We need to consider both sides of the ball, and Bradley's defense is not something that can just be replaced.
Small Forward: B+
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Paul Pierce and Jeff Green will see almost exclusive minutes at small forward.
Based on Green coming off of heart surgery, this position gets a B+.
But Pierce will surely be ready, or at least ready to play his way into shape. Either way, you can expect him to continue his offensive onslaught this season.
In the case of the Celtics, it's tough to give small forward anything less than an A-, but when one of those players suffered an aortic aneurysm, it raises some concerns.
Green is pivotal to the Celtics' success this season because he could not only spell Pierce for a nice chunk of minutes, but also allow them to go small by sliding over to power forward.
If Green stays healthy and is able to contribute, that grade will definitely jump up by the end of the season.
Power Forward: B+
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Power forward gets a B+ as well.
We know what kind of production we will get from Brandon Bass, but what about Jared Sullinger?
Make no mistake: Sullinger will contribute to this team. It's just a matter of to what extent.
The issue, as with Bass at times last season, is defense. Sullinger has the makings of a solid post defender with his strength and size, but he struggles with help-side defense because of his lack of athleticism.
Power forward may be somewhat of a weak-link for the Celtics' defense this season. Sullinger's lack of athleticism and the fact that he is a rookie may limit his effectiveness on that side floor—initially.
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Kevin Garnett has not given us any reason to doubt him.
So why start now?
Garnett is the starting center, whether he likes it or not. He will do whatever it takes to win, so if he has to take a beating in the post every now and then, he will certainly fight back.
Though Garnett is not a true center, his playoff performance last season speaks for itself.
Don't expect Garnett to average 20 points and 10 rebounds, but expect him to be effective, efficient and as always, intense.
Other centers on the roster include Chris Wilcox, Darko Milicic and Jason Collins.
Doc Rivers has options as to which big he can throw out there in any given situation.
Need someone to run with Rondo? Wilcox is your man. Need a big body to clog up the middle? Milicic and Collins will do.
As a whole, the center position receives an A-, mainly because Kevin Garnett was so effective in the position last season.
Though Wilcox is another player recovering from heart surgery, the Celtics have plenty of depth at center to soften the blow if he is unable to play.
And Milicic, despite his reputation, is better than advertised—at least for what the Celtics have in mind for him, which is to play around 10-12 minutes per game and provide solid interior defense against Dwight Howard-types while giving Garnett some much needed rest.