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Complete Boston Celtics Player Power Rankings for Start of 2012-13 NBA Season

Jacob KeimachCorrespondent IIOctober 31, 2012

Complete Boston Celtics Player Power Rankings for Start of 2012-13 NBA Season

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    The Boston Celtics feature the best 15-man roster in recent franchise history heading into the 2012-13. Yes, that includes before the NBA Finals winning 2007-08 team led by a younger Big Three.

    The C's will be immediately forced into the spotlight as they open the new season at American Airlines Arena in Miami. What fans and the opposition are about to see is a deep team with athleticism less typical of Celtics teams from the last five years. 

    Only five can play at one time, but Coach Doc Rivers has many options to employ at every point in the game. If they are to win, the C's need help from each player they've decided to offer a roster spot. 

    Let's rank how important each Celtics athlete is to the accomplishment of their season long goal: an NBA Finals victory. 

No. 15: Fab Melo

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    Position: Center

    Age: 22

    NBA Experience: Rookie

     

    Fab Melo most likely will not have a significant impact over the course of the regular season.

    After his academic ineligibility disqualified Melo from participating in the 2012 NCAA tournament, many have questioned whether or not he is capable of assimilating into NBA-level schemes. 

    When the Celtics selected Fab in the 2012 NBA draft, they saw a lengthy big man who can alter a lot of shots on the defensive end. Now, this assumes that they can get Melo positioned in the right place and that he understands the defensive rotations. 

    The fact is, Melo will be under Kevin Garnett's wing for most of the year. He may not change too many games single-handedly, but Fab Melo can provide an injection of defensive energy and shot-blocking potential any time he comes off the end of the bench. 

No. 14: Kris Joseph

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    Position: Small Forward

    Age: 23

    NBA Experience: Rookie

     

    The Celtics recently chose rookie SF Kris Joseph to complete their 15-man roster (via DJ Bean of WEEI). 

    Although he is firmly behind Paul Pierce and Jeff Green on the depth chart, Joseph can make a game-to-game impact with his athleticism. The rookie out of Syracuse will most likely join teammate Fab Melo in some D-League work this season. 

    Either way, Paul Pierce is growing increasingly balky on those knees with age and Jeff Green is coming off a heart injury. Joseph may not currently stand in position to play significant minutes, but he can be thrown into duty at any moment. 

No. 13: Chris Wilcox

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    Age: 30

    Position: Power Forward

    NBA Experience: 10 years

    2011-12 Averages: 17.2 minutes, 5.4 points, 4.4 rebounds

     

    Chris Wilcox, like Jeff Green, missed a lot of time last season due to a heart condition. The Celtics struggled to effectively rebound all season; the absence of big-man depth was surely a factor. 

    This year, Wilcox is set to return but is much less crucial to the Celtics' game plan. With additional big men Jason Collins, Fab Melo and Jared Sullinger and the return of Green, rebounding should be less of a struggle than in 2011-12. 

    Coach Rivers understands the importance of having the flexibility to play different lineups. For this reason, Wilcox will not be completely insignificant. However, he probably won't do much more than clean up garbage-time minutes and take fouls for the likes of Garnett and Brandon Bass. 

No. 12: Jason Collins

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    Age: 33

    Position: Center

    NBA Experience: 11 years

    2011-12 Averages (with Atlanta): 10.3 minutes, 1.3 points, 1.3 rebounds

     

    Jason Collins will be on the floor when Kevin Garnett needs to take a breather. Although Collins is the most pure center on the team—Garnett is classically a power forward—he will not receive any more minutes than necessary to keep his teammates healthy and fresh. 

    After last season's rebounding struggles, it seems that Boston should emphasize size and power. Collins is a cheap option (guaranteed only $854,389 this year) and brings enough league experience to give the C's a boost. 

    Collins is by no means a flashy option, but his contribution will be an unsung necessity for Celtics success. 

No. 11: Darko Milicic

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    Age: 27

    Position: Center

    NBA Experience: Nine years

    2011-12 Averages (with Minnesota): 16.3 minutes, 4.6 points, 3.3 rebounds

     

    Again, a big body to spell the undersized Garnett. 

    Darko Milicic can provide quality minutes, eat up personal fouls and be a large obstacle to opposing post players. 

    Milicic is currently dealing with a sore wrist. And, admittedly, according to Rob Bradford of WEEI, the pain seems like it will continue to be a factor.

    Once healthy, however, Milicic will provide a similar effort to that of Jason Collins. He'll just do it slightly better over the course of the season.  

No. 10: Courtney Lee

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    Age: 27

    Position: Shooting Guard

    NBA Experience: Four years

    2011-12 Averages (with Houston): 30.3 minutes, 11.4 points, 2.7 rebounds, 1.5 assists

     

    Courtney Lee is the youngest of the three guards the Celtics added this offseason.

    He'll be a spark plug off the bench once Avery Bradley returns, but until then he has a chance to start. 

    Lee hit on 40.1 percent of his three-point attempts in 2011-12, making him qualified to step into the shooter's role left gaping by Ray Allen. 

    Although Courtney Lee will have to accept a lesser role as part of the Celtics, he has the opportunity to give the C's a much-needed scoring boost. 

    Whether he ends up earning a temporary starting role or not, Courtney Lee will be an irreplaceable part of a Celtics rotation that could be potentially be as deep as 10 players on a consistent basis. 

No. 9: Leandro Barbosa

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    Age: 29

    Position: Shooting Guard

    NBA Experience: Nine years

    2011-12 Averages (with Toronto): 21.6 minutes, 11.1 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists

     

    Leandro Barbosa is a defensive agitator and someone who can eat up minutes at the guard position. He can also score in bunches, as evidenced by his 16 points in only 15 minutes of work on opening night. 

    The Celtics won't ask him to do much more than handle the ball when Rondo, Jason Terry and Courtney Lee (and eventually Avery Bradley) need a breather. 

    Barbosa will be useful in that he can contribute to the second unit energy as well as lead a quality transition attack. 

    The additions of Terry and Lee diminish the impact that Barbosa can have on the Celtics this year. However, Barbosa's experience and tenacity round out the end of the bench nicely. 

No. 8: Jared Sullinger

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    Age: 20

    Position: Power Forward

    NBA Experience: Rookie

     

    Boston did a great job emphasizing adding big bodies this offseason. Jared Sullinger is a key asset out of Ohio State that can score and spell big teammates Kevin Garnett and Brandon Bass when they need rest. 

    Sullinger was impressive in the preseason, turning in such quality numbers that many think he could start. Plus, he adds a rebounding skill that escaped the entire Celtics team all of last season. 

    With limited other potential candidates, Sully could win Atlantic Division Rookie of the Year honors. He can gain a good start by chipping in consistent bench scoring (perhaps 8-12 points per night?) and continuing to display solid progress in limited minutes. 

    The reason Sullinger leaps ahead of the bench guards on this list is because he could settle into a more extensive role as the season wears on. In order to preserve the health of Garnett and Bass, Sullinger will surely pick up some of the slack. 

    Will the rookie from OSU be as potent throughout the regular season as he was before it began? 

No. 7: Jeff Green

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    Age: 26

    Position: Small Forward

    NBA Experience: Four years

    2011-12 Averages: N/A

     

    Jeff Green will be a huge part of the Celtics success this season after being completely absent just a year ago. 

    Despite being held off the court by a heart ailment for all of 2011-12, Green will return to the revamped Celtics style looking to make a big impact. 

    This year's team is oriented in such a way that Green's ceiling is very high. He should receive significant minutes as a substitute for an aging Paul Pierce. Additionally, Green's versatility could allow him to play at the power forward position if the Celtics run with a smaller lineup. 

    Before coming to Boston in the infamous Kendrick Perkins trade, Jeff Green was able to showcase his athleticism, made more notable because he stands tall at 6'9". Green looks like the type of asset the Celtics need to at least slow someone like LeBron when the time comes. 

    Maybe it is a bit optimistic to expect Green to return to his high-scoring ways so quickly. Yet, if he can, he will be more important to the Celtics than all but one of the players that they added this offseason. 

No. 6: Jason Terry

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    Age: 35

    Position: Shooting Guard

    NBA Experience: 13 years

    2011-12 Averages: 31.7 minutes, 15.2 points, 3.6 assists, 2.4 rebounds

     

    Jason Terry may not be Ray Allen. But, he is a better fit for the Celtics' second unit because he can create his own shot off the dribble. 

    Terry will add plenty of instant offense off the bench all season long. He is a defensive liability but will be a perfect complement to the sticky defense of eventual starting shooting guard Avery Bradley.

    More importantly, Jason Terry is another experienced veteran who knows what it takes to bring home the NBA Finals trophy. He was a major influence in Dallas' finals run only two years ago and is perfectly accepting of his role as a leader off the bench. 

    Last season, the Celtics lacked somebody other than Rondo who could consistently command a successful offense. Terry will be a fitting replacement for former C's hero Allen and help Boston get over a legitimate hump in second-unit leadership.  

No. 5: Avery Bradley

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    Age: 21

    Position: Shooting Guard

    NBA Experience: Two years

    2011-12 Averages: 21.4 minutes, 7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.4 assists

     

    Avery Bradley earned respect last year by playing ferocious defense. 

    Before anyone realized, Bradley became an effective slasher who could knock down the corner three ball. 

    All of a sudden, Ray Allen had an injury and AB was thrust into the starting role. Most shockingly, he never really relinquished the spot. 

    Now, Bradley is sidelined until at least December while healing a shoulder he hurt at the end of last season. The Celtics do not have a better perimeter defender than Bradley. Without him on the floor Boston will have a much more difficult time slowing the top offensive threats in the NBA. 

    Yet, he'll be around when it matters most and you can count on him being on the floor during make or break time. 

    For this reason, Avery Bradley cracked my top five most important Celtics in 2012-13. 

No. 4: Brandon Bass

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    Age: 27

    Position: Power Forward

    NBA Experience: Seven years

    2011-12 Averages: 31.7 minutes, 12.5 points, 6.2 rebounds

     

    Once again, the Celtics need to rebound better if they are going to win the NBA Finals in 2012-13. 

    Brandon Bass, along with big teammate Kevin Garnett, are primarily responsible for ensuring that the Celtics do not finish worst in the NBA in rebounding like they did last season. 

    Bass proved throughout the 2012 postseason that he can consistently knock down a mid-range jump shot. He also displayed impressive hustle and toughness under the basket. 

    Boston inked Bass to a three-year contract in the offseason. His pay is well deserved. 

    This season, Brandon Bass will be a fundamental option in both the Celtics' offensive and defensive rotations. He will need to chip in bigger minutes than last year, but he also has greater depth to lean on from the bench. 

    As a full-time starter, the Celtics' power forward will have the best opportunity yet in his career to be a major contributor to a title run. Hopefully he handles the responsibility with determination and fervor. 

No. 3: Paul Pierce

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    Age: 35

    Position: Small Forward

    NBA Experience: 14 years

    2011-12 Averages: 34.0 minutes, 19.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists


    It is strange to see Paul Pierce this far from being the most valuable Celtics player. His time as the main option is over and it is time to acknowledge "The Truth" for what he is. 

    Pierce has been a mainstay in the Celtics franchise since the beginning of his career, spanning 14 seasons. He has played with the likes of Antoine Walker, endured a 24-win season, and helped bring home a title alongside Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo

    Today, Pierce is 35 and has not been able to keep his body in the proper shape through the grind of recent postseasons. 

    Without him, the C's would surely be much less a viable contender than they are today; however, how Doc Rivers and the coaching staff treat Pierce needs to change this season in order to accommodate his body. 

    With a healthy Jeff Green to reduce Pierce's regular-season minutes, look for the Celtics' star small forward to be fresh enough to elevate his postseason play for one of his last runs at raising another banner. 

No. 2: Kevin Garnett

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    Age: 36

    Position: Center (listed as a Power Forward but currently starts at C for Boston)

    NBA Experience: 17 years

    2011-12 Averages: 31.1 minutes, 15.8 points, 8.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists


    The Celtics are founded on their defense. The Celtics defense is founded on Kevin Garnett.

    He may be getting older, but KG is every bit the spitting, angry and loud defenseman that opponents loathe matching up against.

    He is playing a bit out of position as the C's starting center. However, his versatility and willingness to commit to a new position is a testament to his valuation of the team over himself.

    Plus, he did a pretty good job as the center last season!

    Garnett's ferocity is unwavering. He's even gone so far as to remove friend and former teammate Ray Allen's phone number from his contact list because he shipped out for the Miami Heat. 

    KG's bitter, stubborn refusal to throw in the towel has become emblematic of the Celtics' toughness. It will again this season more than ever.

    For that reason, KG earns the nod as second most important Celtic in 2012-13. 

No. 1: Rajon Rondo

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    Age: 26

    Position: Point Guard

    NBA Experience: Five years

    2011-12 Averages: 36.9 minutes, 11.9 points, 11.7 assists, 4.8 rebounds, 1.8 steals

     

    Finally, it's official. Rajon Rondo is the man in Boston. 

    If the Celtics are going to win it all this season, Rajon will have to be a court general, a distributor, a scorer, a rebounder, an off-court leader and more disciplined at handling pressure and adversity. 

    That's a heavy load to heap on an individual in a team game, is it not?

    Considering Rondo has yet to reach his potential, maybe not. This season, Rondo will duck, weave, pass and score better than we've ever seen him do before. He'll have Doc River's official stamp of approval as the go-to player when on the court and will not relinquish his position. 

    He also has many new faces to help him reach his goals and that complement his skill set. Rondo will also get more extended rest when he needs it because Boston touts five guards on the roster. 

    Simply put, Rondo will be in charge of setting Boston's pace throughout the season. He is as much the engine of the offense as KG is of the defense and has the opportunity to prove his excellence this season. 

    The Celtics will go only as far as Rajon Rondo can take them in 2012-13. 

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