As previously reported, head coach Doc Rivers and the Boston Celtics are experimenting with a variety of starting lineups. With a massive infusion of depth and youth, the fight for minutes in a packed rotation will be one of fierce proportions.
The latest move that he is considering just so happens to be equally as detrimental to the potential for team success.
According to Paul Flannery of WEEI 93.7 FM, the Celtics' latest experiment could come with shooting guard Jason Terry replacing the departed Ray Allen in the starting lineup. If not Terry, it would be Courtney Lee taking over the role.
“[Terry] could start. Whatever I prefer is whatever I think will be the best fit for our team. We may start Jason Terry and use him like Kevin [Garnett] for the first five minutes, just to get him some minutes and then bring him back in. We may start Courtney [Lee], so there’s a lot of ways we can go with it.”
Although it is always beneficial to have flexibility, there is no rationale behind moving Terry to the role of starting shooting guard. He hasn't been a full-time starter since 2007 and has enjoyed the greatest success of his career as a Sixth Man.
Before Rivers makes a drastic decision, he must weigh the factors that make Terry such a great second unit leader. Upon doing so, it is fair to assume that he will make the right choice and place Terry in his usual role.
If not, the Celtics' second unit could be in shambles.
Sixth Man of the Year
Since the 2008 NBA regular season, Jason Terry has primarily been used as a Sixth Man. In that time, Terry has averaged 16.5 points, 3.6 assists and 1.2 steals with a slash line of .450/.368/.865.
In other words, he has been as dominant a second unit force as one could imagine. His 2009 Sixth Man of the Year award can attest to that.
To put it simply, Doc Rivers must ask himself one question: why fix what isn't broken? If Terry is a proven commodity as the Sixth Man, why waste his talent by placing him on the floor with a multitude of other scorers?
Terry's greatest success comes as the lead scorer for the second unit. In turn, he makes big shots and warms up for late game heroics.
Don't waste a phenomenal talent by removing him from his comfort zone.
Second Unit Needs a Scoring Spark
We now know how the role of Sixth Man fits Terry as an individual. What we must address, however, is how beneficial his presence would be for the second unit in terms of scoring the basketball.
The Celtics' current second unit would consist of Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Jason Collins. Alternate Chris Wilcox and a healthy Avery Bradley in and you have yourself one glaring need.
The presence of a scorer.
Although Courtney Lee has proven capable of shooting the basketball, he is far from a prolific scorer. Never has the Western Kentucky alum averaged more than 12.5 points per game. When he hit that 12.5 mark, he started 66 of his 71 appearances.
For that reason, it is imperative that the Celtics bring a true scorer into the second unit of their rotation. The defensive output would be solid and both Green and Sullinger could emerge as scoring threats.
Both are young and unproven, however, which proves that this team needs a veteran marksman to turn to.
Second Unit Needs a Ball Handler
Not only does the second unit need a lead scorer, but it needs a primary ball handler as well. Although Avery Bradley could provide that for the team, he remains sidelined as he recovers from shoulder surgery.
Presently, the alternate options would be Jamar Smith and Dionte Christmas.
Fortunately for the Celtics, Terry is more than capable of running the point for short periods of time. Not only does this provide the second unit with a ball handler while Rajon Rondo rests, but presents the team with limitless rotational options.
With Terry at the point, Courtney Lee could remain at the 2. The sharpshooting would continue and the second unit would thrive.
All Your Eggs in One Basket
With a blind eye, it'd be difficult not to be impressed with a starting lineup consisting of Rajon Rondo, Jason Terry, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass and Kevin Garnett.
Unfortunately, basketball is not won on paper. It is won on the court, where depth is of the utmost importance.
Should Doc Rivers opt to go with said lineup, he would place his five most talented scorers in one lineup. As a result, the second unit would consist of the team's better defenders but lack any true scoring threats.
As a result, the Celtics would find themselves in a situation with a high level of defense, but would lack the points necessary to keep up with their opponents. This would require Terry, Pierce or Garnett to remain on the floor rather than all three resting together.
In turn, their time spent on the floor as a unit would diminish and the all-around production would suffer.
Should Terry play the role of Sixth Man, however, he would enable the stars to receive the rest they need. Once the fourth quarter rolls around, that will lead to opportunities for the Celtics to play Terry with their starters.
Consider the phrase "it's not how you start, it is how you finish" to be applicable to the Boston Celtics' future with Jason Terry.