4 Boston Celtics Role Players Who Will Have Biggest Impact
There have been key additions and subtractions from the roster, none fueling the fire in Kevin Garnett's heart more than the departure of Ray Allen to the Heat.
The new general on the court, Rajon Rondo, has proclaimed that this "is the best team we’ve had since I’ve been here."
Hopes are high for the season as the Celtics squad shipped off to Istanbul to play a couple of preseason European matches.
Let's take a look at four role players who will have a significant impact on the road to a championship.
Due to the retirement of veteran point guard Keyon Dooling and the shoulder surgery that has shelved Avery Bradley for the start of the season, Jason Terry is being thrust into the backup point guard position.
Terry, who was signed as a free agent over the summer, has already displayed his excitement to be in Celtics green this season. They are the third team he has played for in his career after spending the first 13 seasons with the Atlanta Hawks and Dallas Mavericks.
Terry is a versatile point guard who can shoot the ball from beyond the arc as well as create offense off the dribble.
Coach Doc Rivers has commented on how surprised he was to learn the natural point guard ability that Terry possesses.
The former Maverick has averaged between 31 and 33 minutes per game over the past five seasons and should hover around that amount of playing time in Boston.
While he will be the primary replacement for Rondo during the first two months of the season, his skill at the two-guard position will also hand him playing time behind Courtney Lee.
Terry discussed his willingness to play whatever position to help this team win (via Enterprise News):
I’m a guard. I’m what Isiah Thomas said when they always questioned him about are you a (point) or are you a (shooting guard). I’m just a basketball player and I’m able to play multiple positions because (I’m) willing to learn and my ability to break the film down and dissect the defense
His 15.1 points per game last season should help catalyze the bench scoring for the Celtics, a key aspect to winning those grind-out games.
Terry's veteran leadership and readiness to come off the bench will bode well for the new-look Celtics in 2013.
Chris Forsberg, the Celtics reporter for ESPN Boston, relayed great news about Jeff Green after the Celtics' first practice of the 2012-2013 season.
First, Doc Rivers praised Green, saying "Jeff looked great. Actually, he had one of the better practices, and I thought his conditioning was phenomenal."
Returning from surgery to fix an aortic aneurysm that caused him to miss all of last season, it is the best news to hear regarding Green—that he is in top physical condition without any restrictions.
Second, the first-round draft pick by the Celtics in 2007 (fifth overall), Green was unable to hide his emotions during practice a few days ago.
I was trying not to smile too much during practice. I had to keep a straight face. I mean, it's hard. I let some emotions go, telling all the players that I'm happy to be back, just encouraging them. Just talking a lot for no reason, because I was just glad to be back on the floor.
It is all positive for Green, who is hoping to play in his first full NBA season since the 2009-2010 campaign with the Oklahoma City Thunder. That year he played in all 82 games and averaged 15.1 points per game and 6.0 rebounds per game.
On a Celtics roster scrutinized for its old age, Green, along with Rondo, is a critical face for the team's future.
He was the main piece in the Kendrick Perkins trade two years ago and at 6'9'' can play the backup role at small or power forward.
Green will be one of the first players off the bench for Doc Rivers due to his multitalented repertoire. He can shoot the three-pointer, can knock down mid-range jumpers and is a physical presence on both offense and defense.
When health is not a concern, Green has the ability to make a major impact on both sides of the ball.
The shooting guard position will look foreign compared to what Celtics fans have been used to for the past five seasons.
Avery Bradley's quick and electrifying play allowed him to take over Ray Allen's starting job late last season. Gaining the confidence of Doc Rivers, Celtics players and fans have begun to find peace with the departure of Allen to the Heat.
However, shoulder injuries that derailed Bradley's playing time during the playoffs will continue to delay his return to the court this season.
His left shoulder was surgically repaired during the playoffs last year, and the right one was repaired in July. Bradley is looking at a return no earlier than late December or possibly January.
Bradley has greatly matured during his two seasons in the NBA. He understands that to come back and play he must be at full strength. Plus, new addition Courtney Lee can fill in the shooting guard role until his eventual return.
When that return does come, Bradley said he will take whatever role the team needs to win games. Via NESN:
It doesn't really matter to me. Danny [Ainge] got some great players. I'm excited about this year. I feel like the players he got are going to help us out a lot. However much time I give when I get back, it doesn't matter to me. The only thing that matters to me is winning a championship, so I just have to worry about being prepared and strong enough so I do come back.
That sort of mentality is exactly how an important role player should think.
Boston's depth at the guard position is going to be an essential part of their push to the playoffs.
Through recent history, playing time for a Celtics rookie is hard to come by.
Through the depth chart, it is a crowded fight to the top for big men.
If any rookie will see solid playing time this season, it will be Jared Sullinger.
Dropping to the Celtics at the 21st pick in the NBA draft, Sullinger was an absolute steal. Concern about bulging discs in his back have proven to be irrelevant as Sullinger has played through the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues, as well as time at training facilities through September, without any setback.
The rookie from Ohio State will be playing behind Brandon Bass at the power forward position.
Based off of praise from Doc Rivers and president of basketball operations Danny Ainge, Sullinger should see minutes off the bench from the very start of the season.
Just how many minutes he gets is yet to be seen. The Celtics added seven-footers Jason Collins and Darko Milicic to supplement a Celtics roster that was dead last in rebounding numbers last year.
Sullinger's polished play and in-the-paint skills are evidence enough to put him on the court.
He has a great post move, and his ability to make contact in the air and adjust his body is an attribute seldom found in rookie big men. He is a physical presence in the paint and can pull down offensive boards just as easily as defensive ones.
The kid knows how to play. If he stays healthy, we could see him as one of the first off the bench by the end of the season.