Entering the 2013-14 NBA preseason, the Boston Celtics were expected to shape their rotation with a youth movement. Rajon Rondo is sidelined by injury, head coach Brad Stevens is in his first year in the professional ranks and the stars of the organization were traded.
After defying the odds during the preseason, expect center Vitor Faverani to play a critical role for the Celtics in 2013-14.
Faverani was an unknown commodity entering the preseason. The 25-year-old Brazilian big man wasn't a star import or a notable draft choice, but instead a hard-working interior player who earned his spot on the roster.
Now, Faverani looks like he could end up starting for the Celtics.
Even if Faverani is moved to the bench, he will play a major role for Boston moving forward.
Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe reports that Faverani has earned playing time under Coach Stevens. This is hardly shocking for anyone who has watched him play, as the Brazilian rim protector has been a defensive menace.
Consider him to be what Fab Melo wasn't.
What Fab Melo Wasn't
At the 2012 NBA draft, the Celtics used the No. 21 overall draft choice on power forward Jared Sullinger and No. 22 on center Fab Melo. One year later, Boston acquired big man Kelly Olynyk at the 2013 NBA draft.
With Sullinger proving to be a low-post presence and Olynyk providing all-around offensive skills, all Boston needed was a defensive-minded center. With Melo disappointing and underwhelming, Faverani has entered the picture.
During his collegiate career, Melo became a heralded player for his defensive upside. In 25.4 minutes per contest in his final season at Syracuse, Melo averaged 5.8 rebounds and 2.9 blocks.
Unfortunately, Melo has been exposed as a player that's far too raw to contribute in the near future.
That's where Faverani steps in, as he's the only player on the roster that has displayed any prowess as a rim-protecting big. Olynyk, Sullinger and Brandon Bass are all offensive-minded players who can defend their man but fail to block shots on a consistent basis—Olynyk tops the group with 1.1 block per game as a senior at Gonzaga.
In just one game, Faverani proved that he could be that defensive force for Boston.
How awesome has this night been for Vitor Faverani? He has six blocked shots. The team's leader coming in tonight was Jeff Green with seven.— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) October 24, 2013
Come the regular season, his ability to block shots will earn him minutes.
Whether he's used in a Greg Stiemsma role off of the bench or becomes a full-time starter, Paverani's defense is enough to keep him on the floor. Coach Stevens loves hard-nosed players, and if there's anything you can tell by watching the Brazilian star, it's that he has no quit.
If that's not enough to convince you of his bright future with the Celtics, try this: Boston doesn't have another true center on the roster.
Power Forward Overload
Boston's interior has no shortage of NBA-caliber players. Bass and Sullinger are both worthy of starting spots, and Olynyk may be the most complete offensive big man in this year's rookie class.
Who should be Boston's starting center?
If you're wondering where Boston's centers are, you only have to look at one person: Faverani.
As it presently stands, Faverani is the only true center on the Celtics roster. The myth of the dying center position is absurd, and even the Miami Heat proved in 2012-13 that every team needs a rim-protecting big man who can bang down low on defense.
As the only center in the rotation, why wouldn't Faverani see playing time?
Having already established himself as the best interior defender on the team, Faverani will be needed until another center is signed. Not only will he block shots, but he'll help to provide a high-screen presence at 6'11" and 260 pounds.
It may not be transpiring the way the NBA community expected it to, but Boston's youth movement is coming along in an excellent manner. Faverani plays a major role in that.