2013-14 NBA Season Preview Player Power Rankings for Boston Celtics

Mike WalshCorrespondent IOctober 20, 2013

2013-14 NBA Season Preview Player Power Rankings for Boston Celtics

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    How does this grouping of current Celtics rank against one another?
    How does this grouping of current Celtics rank against one another?Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    The 2013-14 Boston Celtics don't look like they will be ranking very well against the NBA as a whole, so it is worth it to take a look inside and see how they size up amongst themselves.

    There is quite a variety of players, contracts and styles on this roster, which makes ranking them an interesting task.

    How much stock do we put into preseason performance? What does the level of injury risk mean for each player's ceiling? How well can they adapt to this set of teammates? And, of course, what to we make of Rajon Rondo at this point?

    These are all questions and factors that weigh in on where to place each Celtic as we inch closer to opening night.

#ESPNRank

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    USA TODAY Sports

    Here's where each Boston Celtic ranked in ESPN's 500-player ranking for the 2013-14 season.

    481. Vitor Faverani

    439. Phil Pressey

    307. Keith Bogans

    252. Jordan Crawford

    224. Courtney Lee

    220. MarShon Brooks

    202. Kelly Olynyk

    199. Jared Sullinger

    162. Kris Humphries

    158. Brandon Bass

    149. Gerald Wallace

    102. Avery Bradley

    83. Jeff Green

    27. Rajon Rondo

End of Bench

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    Ron Turenne/Getty Images

    14. Keith Bogans

    Taking into account his lack of preseason production and recent thumb injury, along with his age and style of play, Keith Bogans isn't looking like much of a factor right now.

    He has never been much of an offensive player. His best shooting season was 2007-08 when he shot 41 percent from the field. He is more known as a defensive troublemaker. But, at 33, his athleticism is going to fade quickly and thus, that defensive presence will lighten.

     

    13. Vitor Faverani

    The idea of sliding Vitor Faverani up a few spots was toyed with. However, he is still just too unknown. The faith I have in NBA teams' scouting departments is too strong to believe that this quality big slipped into the Celtics' hands at age 25 and on a minimal contract.

    However, he is probably Boston's only true center and has produced in the preseason. He has hit 13 of 27 field goals and grabbed five-plus boards in each game he has seen double-digit minutes.

     

    12.  Jordan Crawford

    The potential is still just tantalizing enough to make you believe that Jordan Crawford can become a quality role player on a winning NBA team. Was his 20-point-per-game season at Xavier that long ago?

    Crawford hasn't done anything in the preseason we haven't seen before. He has scored at a reasonably high level, but he is one of the few players seeing consistent, heavy minutes in these games. He's also had numerous hot streaks before, but until he shoots over 42 percent for a season, he'll remain on the end of NBA benches.

     

    11. Phil Pressey

    The most promising figure of the Celtics' preseason not named Kelly, has been Phil Pressey. The minor ankle ding is definitely a concern, but overall his play has been too good to ignore.

    Pressey has been fearless as a 22-year-old leading this offense at times. He has gotten himself to the free-throw line, showed a decent touch around the rim and dealt out 20 assists in 92 minutes of play. If Brad Stevens chooses to utilize Pressey in the regular season, there is a definite chance he elevates into the top 10.

10. Courtney Lee

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    After the season he had in 2012-13, the last think Courtney Lee needed was an ice-cold preseason. Yet, that is exactly what the $5.2 million player did.

    Through six games with consistent minutes, Lee is 13-of-41, or 31.7 percent, from the field. That includes 4-of-16 from beyond the arc.

    Lee finished his first season in Boston with pretty decent shooting clips. That wasn't the problem. The issue was that he seemed tentative to play. He was like a light version of Jeff Green. And since Jeff Green was already a light version of a quality NBA wing, you can tell how low Lee fell.

    Doc Rivers started giving his minutes to Terrence Williams—the same Terrence Williams Boston waived on June 30. 

    With imports like Keith Bogans, Phil Pressey and MarShon Brooks all threatening his playing time, along with Jordan Crawford and Avery Bradley already in house, Lee's minutes are on thin ice. Did I mention that Lee's contract is higher than all five of those guards?

    If Lee is tentative to shoot and does so poorly, he won't be in Boston for much longer. Tentatively shooting while shooting well lost him his job last season.

9. MarShon Brooks

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    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Spo

    Personally, I'd like to have MarShon Brooks be a bigger part of the Boston Celtics' 2013-14 season.

    The reasoning goes beyond that Providence MarShon bobblehead I have sitting on my refrigerator. The kid has produced when given minutes. He was a surprise sensation during a rookie season in which he saw 29.4 minutes per game and started 47 contests.

    Then, for whatever reason, his minutes were jerked around. Of course Joe Johnson had something to do with this, and rightfully so. However, even in the preseason with Boston, Brooks has scored 38 points over the three games he earned more than three minutes. Overall, he is shooting 13-of-22 in the preseason.

    The Celtics are going to struggle through a rebuilding period, but maybe they already have a quality third guard in Brooks. Why not give him a chance to play real minutes again and see what you have?

    Still, he hasn't proven a ton in just 129 regular-season games. Until we see more, Brooks can't go any higher than this.

8. Brandon Bass

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Brandon Bass has been an integral part of successful teams for the past three seasons.

    Unfortunately, I believe he has peaked as a player. That isn't to say that the player one spot ahead of him hasn't as well, but the ceiling of Bass has always been lower. Since he has made such a solid career for himself, many forget that Bass was a draft afterthought in the second round and was a garbage-timer until a few years ago.

    He has a definite skill with that mid-range jumper and has improved immensely on defense in recent years. However, he is generously listed at 6'8" and doesn't rebound particularly well. Given the direction this team is headed, power forward minutes should be going to Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger so Boston can see what it has in those inexpensive youngsters.

    Bass is a valuable piece to a good team, but in Boston his skills won't be utilized fully and he'll be relegated to a forgettable role on the second unit. 

7. Kris Humphries

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    David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

    Kris Humphries is definitely overpaid, given his production last season. However, there is a reason he is overpaid. When he signed that contract, it was deserved.

    Humphries was the No. 5 rebounder in the league for two straight seasons while scoring 11.9 points per game on 49.7 percent shooting. Those are very productive numbers and worth a $10-$12 million contract. That is also a two-year peak better than anything Brandon Bass has ever accomplished.

    Whether he got sidetracked by his personal life, liked New Jersey more than Brooklyn, or simply was outplayed by Reggie Evans, Humphries disappeared last season.

    He'll have every opportunity to return to form in 2013 with the Boston Celtics. Having a height advantage, as well as plain rebounding skill, will give him the chance to play a thin center position for Boston. That is something Bass and Jared Sullinger may not be able to pull off.

    Humphries may not return to that peak he had with the New Jersey Nets, but given his past success, size and overall solid preseason performance, he stays ahead of Bass for now.

6. Jared Sullinger

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    Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

    Injury risk and draft position keep Jared Sullinger out of the Celtics' top-five rankings.

    It is hard to ignore the fact that Sullinger fell in the draft because of back concerns, and a few months later he missed the second half of the season with a back injury.

    He was promising through 45 games, earning more and more respect and confidence from Doc Rivers and his experienced teammates. However, they're all gone now and he'll have to prove himself once again, post-back surgery.

    The early returns from preseason have been solid. Sullinger is struggling a bit to get his shot off inside, something he'll have to learn to work around. He is rebounding at a high level, though, and getting to the line nicely. The three-point shooting (2-of-12) is odd, but you can't blame a young player for following a head coach's orders.

    If he continues this preseason through a couple more games, Sullinger has earned the right to start again at power forward, depending on what kind of lineup Brad Stevens is looking to use. However, until he plays a full season, we have to be cautious with ranking him too high.

5. Kelly Olynyk

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Probably the Boston Celtics' preseason MVP, Kelly Olynyk continues to prove himself worthy of playing at this level.

    From performing well at a school in a weak conference to dominating the NBA Summer League, Olynyk has faced questions on the competition level he was beating up on. The next step of that was the preseason, which isn't real NBA basketball but roughly as close as you can get. For the most part, these are the opponents Olynyk will be facing, and he has held his own.

    In the four preseason games that Boston's first-rounder has played more than 20 minutes, Olynyk is averaging 12.8 points on 59.5 percent shooting. He has added 5.3 rebounds per game. In 24 minutes on average, those are some pretty impressive numbers.

    Olynyk is going to have some leeway with Boston. The Celtics moved up to draft him this summer, and he will get every chance to succeed.

    If summer league and preseason are any indication, that is exactly what he will do.

4. Gerald Wallace

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    On the bright side, Boston Celtics fans, Gerald Wallace was probably the preseason No. 4 player on a team that wound up winning 49 games last year.

    For all the flak Wallace catches for his contract, he was a starter on a very good Brooklyn Nets team last season. It certainly wasn't his best year, but his presence counts for something. He also had a good postseason, despite the Nets' first-round flop.

    He had a good 2011-12 season but may not be capable of 30-plus quality minutes anymore. Wallace is 31 and approaching 800 NBA games played with a reckless style at a break-neck pace.

    The positive for Boston is that he won't have to take on such a major role with this team. Jeff Green allows Wallace to slide into a veteran backup slot which may jibe more with his current abilities.

    The Celtics aren't stocked with name players, and Wallace was good enough to be considered in that group once. He is one of the most skilled players on this roster, despite contract numbers and age.

3. Avery Bradley

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    All players listed before No. 3 are probably not as valuable as a half season from Rajon Rondo.

    A full season from Avery Bradley is more valuable than a half season from a limited Rondo. Unfortunately, there is little guarantee that the Boston Celtics will get a full season from Avery Bradley this year.

    Bradley missed much of the postseason in 2012 and wasn't ready to go at the outset of last year. He is just 22 years old and has already done a ton of damage to both shoulders. They had a nasty habit of popping out, so Bradley had surgery on each of them, recovering one by one.

    This can't be pushed to the back burner until we see a full season from him.

    Otherwise, Bradley is an intriguing player for this Celtics team. This season and the ensuing summer should give a glimpse of whether he is a long-term building block for the franchise or perhaps a trade chip.

    Bradley's preseason has done little to calm the concerns of his ability to run the offense as a point guard, which he'll have to do again if Brad Stevens doesn't want to use Phil Pressey. He clearly has the green light to shoot as well, though that hasn't been going great. Bradley is shooting 36.9 percent in the preseason.

    Even if he winds up being nothing more than a defensive stopper in his career, on this roster his level of defense is worth the No. 3 spot.

2. Rajon Rondo

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    Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    The enigma of the Boston Celtics' 2013-14 season remains Rajon Rondo.

    For countless reasons, no one can get a read on what he means to this team or franchise in general. Rondo could return in a few weeks just as easily as he could wear suits to games through February. He could return at 100 percent and immediately elevate this unorthodox roster to playoff level just as easily as he could return and struggle with limited teammates and a dearth of perimeter shooting.

    We won't know what to make of Rondo until it is happening in front of our eyes. Hopefully that happens sooner rather than later, but who knows? 

    What we know for sure is that Rajon Rondo is a brilliant NBA player. Even with no idea of a timetable for his return, we can safely state that he is one of the league's best at his position.

    In terms of value, half a season of a recovering Rondo is going to be more important than nearly all other names on this Celtics roster. On top of that is the factor of having Rondo on the bench as an assistant coach.

    The team is better with Rondo, even if he isn't able to dole out assists on the court. There aren't many players who can say that.

1. Jeff Green

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    How is that for a scary realization?

    The No. 1 player on the Boston Celtics for this upcoming season averaged 12.8 points and 3.9 rebounds per game last season.

    It probably will never be perfect with Jeff Green. He might always be a frustrating player who looks better than he really is and disappears for stretches of games. 

    It will be a lot harder to pull that Houdini maneuver this season, as Green will be a focal point nightly.

    All of that being said, Green has the opportunity of a lifetime coming up here. He has always played the second, third or fourth fiddle to much-superior talent. Now he'll be taking the big shots and will be responsible for creating offense out of nothing and guarding the league's elite wings full time.

    Green has an injury concern that won't go away, as that heart surgery will walk with him for the rest of his career. However, playing in 81 games last season helps his case for the coming year.

    Green's preseason has been average, at best, but the tantalizing talent and size is there—it is just waiting to be realized and put into full use. Maybe this is the year Green puts it all together.

    Unfortunately, even if it isn't the year, Green is still the best Boston has right now.