Initial Post-Draft Depth Chart for Boston Celtics
By drafting Marcus Smart at No. 6 and James Young at No. 17, the Boston Celtics have officially opened up a world of speculation about their next move.
Add to that owner Wyc Grousbeck insisting that "trade season is not over yet," and it is clear we're in for an interesting few months.
For now, though, Boston acquired two athletic, high-upside pieces to bolster its backcourt.
Smart's competitiveness made him a Danny Ainge favorite, and Young could blossom into the smooth-shooting swingman the Celtics would love to replace Paul Pierce.
It's worth wondering why Boston didn't roll the dice on a big man at No. 6 since there was plenty of talent left at the 4 and 5 positions or why it opted for Young over Michigan State's Gary Harris, but overall it's tough to fault Boston too much for its 2014 draft.
Now that we have a pretty clear idea of what the 2014-15 Celtics are going to look like, let's put together a preliminary depth chart of the squad.
Remember, though, if Grousbeck has his way, the C's could look quite different when the season tips off.
Point Guard: Rajon Rondo
Even with Smart coming aboard, it’s only fair to assume that Rajon Rondo will retain the starting 1 spot.
For all of Smart’s athleticism and potential, he isn’t nearly as polished as Rondo, who is going into a contract year and has every reason to play his hardest.
Rondo averaged 11.7 points, 5.5 rebounds and 9.8 assists in 30 games last season after returning from ACL surgery.
He shot just 40.3 percent from the field and 28.9 percent from three-point range but showed enough flashes of pre-injury Rondo to inspire hope in the beleaguered Boston fans.
But what if Rondo gets traded?
Obviously, it’s a possibility, but according to Ben Rohrbach of WEEI.com, Ainge wants to go forward with Rajon Rondo.
The Celtics still need frontcourt talent, but Rondo will have two more dynamic athletes to run the floor with in Smart and Young.
Rondo proved in 2013-14 that he can keep his numbers impressive with subpar teammates, but Boston’s offense struggled overall.
The C’s were 26th in the league in points per game at 96.2 and 22nd in assists at 21 per game.
They’ll be better next year with improvements from Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk, but Boston projects to be a middle-of-the-pack offensive squad yet again.
Reserves: Marcus Smart, Phil Pressey
Smart will likely log a lot of his minutes at the 2, but don’t expect him to start over Avery Bradley if Bradley is retained.
Smart is a liability as a shooter (29.5 percent from three at Oklahoma State) and needs to make major strides in that department.
However, his athleticism and ability to break down the defense guarantee him minutes from day one.
As a sophomore, Smart averaged 18 points, 5.9 rebounds and 4.8 assists while dealing with more criticism than perhaps any other college player.
Standing 6’4”, Smart will have a size advantage over most point guards in the league and will be able to use his frame to bully smaller perimeter players.
The odd man out here is Phil Pressey, who emerged as a decent backup for the Celtics down the stretch.
He’s the furthest thing from a scoring threat, but Pressey has excellent court vision and can get into the teeth of a defense consistently.
Pressey averaged 2.8 points and 3.2 assists last season but upped those numbers to 8.2 points and 7.2 dimes in 11 starts.
Already 23 years old, Pressey doesn’t have the upside of Smart, but he certainly deserves a few minutes given his handle and pick-and-roll prowess.
Pressey should see spot minutes when Boston goes small but not much more than that.
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley
While there is always a possibility Boston lets Bradley walk, he’s a restricted free agent, so the safe bet is that he stays in green. As Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix noted, Bradley could command between $7 and $9 million per season on the open market, a hefty pay increase.
Bradley enjoyed the best season of his career in 2013-14, averaging 14.9 points, 3.8 boards and 1.4 assists while shooting 39.5 percent from deep.
Coach Brad Stevens moved him almost completely off the ball, and Bradley thrived cutting and curling off screens. According to 82games, Bradley’s offensive (98.5) and defensive (102.2) ratings were better when he played shooting guard.
Defensively, Bradley is a menace with full-court pressure and could form a deadly tandem with Smart. Additionally, Smart’s size means that Bradley could spend more time covering point guards. Bradley is just 6’2” and can be easily posted up by taller wings.
Obviously there’s a chance another team swoops in and snags Bradley, but he’s still young and could be a key piece for the C’s going forward.
Reserves: James Young, Jerryd Bayless
Boston took Young at No. 17, and he’ll have an immediate role backing up Bradley.
Young never emerged as an elite shooter at Kentucky, but he managed to average 14.3 points, 4.3 boards and 1.7 dimes for the Wildcats.
The fact that Young shot just 40.7 percent overall and 34.9 percent from deep is troubling, but there’s no reason to think his shot won’t get better.
More importantly, Young proved himself as a gifted athlete and a multifaceted offensive threat. He can react to a closeout and beat his man off the dribble, and his athleticism allows him to play in transition.
Young may not get more than 18 minutes per game early on, but expect him to make big strides as the year goes on.
Jerryd Bayless is an unrestricted free agent, but if he’s willing to sign another deal in the $3 million range, he could be a realistic option.
He’s an underrated playmaker and shooter who can log time at either guard spot.
Defensively he’s a liability and may not be necessary with Smart around, but Boston’s anemic offense could always use an extra spark.
The C’s also have Chris Johnson, Chris Babb and Keith Bogans on non-guaranteed deals heading into 2014-15. Expect Johnson to be picked up.
Small Forward: Jeff Green
That’s right Boston fans, it’s time to get psyched for another frustratingly erratic Jeff Green campaign.
Green was supposed to emerge as the Celtics' go-to scorer in 2013-14, but he ultimately floundered. His averages of 16.9 points, 4.6 boards and 1.7 assists were largely hollow.
ESPN Insider Chad Ford said that if Boston kept both of its picks, it could look to trade both Green and Rondo.
While Ainge has said Boston intends to move forward with Rondo, the same has not been said for Green. Still, despite his obvious flaws, there is no denying Green has talent.
He’s an elite athlete and a decent outside shooter who can explode for 30-plus points when he’s engaged.
Unfortunately, Green often settles for contested two-pointers instead of attacking the rim.
According to Basketball-Reference, Green’s average shot distance of 14.6 feet last season was by far the furthest of his career.
For better or worse, though, Boston truly does not have another starting-caliber wing player, so expect Green to start and log heavy minutes unless he is dealt.
Reserves: Gerald Wallace
Who’s excited for another year of old Gerald Wallace refusing to shoot while earning eight figures?!
Didn’t think so.
Wallace had a fascinatingly mediocre first season in Boston, averaging 5.1 points, 3.7 rebounds and 2.5 assists. He shot an impressive 50.4 percent from the field but attempted only four field goals in 24.4 minutes.
The Celtics tried using Wallace in a variety of ways, as a ball-handler, as a small-ball power forward, but nothing truly worked.
Wallace has always relied more on athleticism than finesse, and with that waning, he has limited ways to make a positive contribution.
He’s no longer a dominant rebounder, and while his defense remains solid, it’s far from elite. Wallace held opposing 3s to a player efficiency rating of 14.0 but allowed opposing 2s to reach 16.9, according to 82games.
Fans should get used to having “Crash” in town, though. He’s owed $20.2 million through 2015-16.
Power Forward: Jared Sullinger
The C’s could have bolstered their frontcourt through the draft with Noah Vonleh or Julius Randle, but they opted to hope for internal improvements.
Sullinger enjoyed a strong 2013-14 campaign and has the most upside of any current Celtic.
Last season, he averaged 13.3 points, 8.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists, albeit on 42.7 percent shooting overall and 26.9 percent from three.
Sully emerged as a viable stretch 4, but he needs to get his outside shooting to at least league average before it becomes a genuine asset.
He is still best used under the basket, where he can exploit his strength, touch and wide frame.
At 6’9”, 260 pounds, Sullinger is a load to handle on the block, and he complements his physicality with a great touch around the hoop.
He’s an intelligent player who knows how to get into rebounding position, and he’s easily the Celtics’ best rebounder.
Sully was appreciably better at power forward than center last season. He posted a 24.3 PER at the 4 compared to a 16.6 PER at the 5, according to 82games.
He’ll still play some minutes at center due to Boston’s lack of size, but he’ll log the brunt of his minutes in 2014-15 at power forward.
Reserves: Brandon Bass, Kris Humphries
Brandon Bass has been on the trade block for over a year, but with Boston passing on drafting a big man, it could keep him around next season.
Bass averaged 11.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.1 assists last season on 48.6 percent shooting. Typical Bass numbers.
He started most of the season but has also proved capable of being an impact player off the bench.
Unfortunately, at 29 years old, it’s tough to see a future in Boston beyond 2014-15 for Bass.
Sullinger and Olynyk may never be All-Stars, but they are at least somewhat unknown quantities.
The same cannot be said for Bass, who has been effectively the same player since he came to Boston in 2011-12.
Don’t be shocked if the Celtics end up dealing Bass this offseason. As ESPNBoston.com’s Chris Forsberg wrote: "The guess here has been that the team will continue to explore moving Bass to contenders that can use his versatility and professionalism, if only because power forward minutes seem pegged for the likes of youngsters Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk."
Kris Humphries is an unrestricted free agent, but he was a valuable role player for the C’s and told The Boston Globe’s Gary Washburn he may want to re-sign.
Center: Kelly Olynyk
Olynyk looked like a stiff for much of his rookie season but came on in a major way as the year drew to a close.
Olynyk rattled off three straight 24-plus-point games to close the season and wound up averaging a decent 8.7 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists.
He also improved his field-goal shooting to 46.6 percent overall and his three-point shooting to 35.1 percent overall.
The 46.6 percent mark isn’t great for a big man, but it’s acceptable given Olynyk’s tendency to shoot outside jumpers.
Perhaps most importantly, Olynyk proved himself as a decent rebounder who wouldn’t be eaten alive on the glass.
Despite being a true 7-footer, there were many questions about Olynyk’s toughness and ability to impact the game in ways besides scoring.
He rarely dominated, but Olynyk established himself as a valuable rotation piece who improved as the year went on.
The Celtics lack another proven option at center and seem hesitant to spend big money in free agency, so expect to see Olynyk slotted into the starting lineup.
He averaged a strong 13.1 points, 7.3 rebounds and 3.1 assists while shooting 48.9 percent in nine starts, and he’d be a success if he put up numbers anywhere near that in 2014-15.
Olynyk should benefit from having a shooter on the wing in Young and another guard who can collapse a defense in Smart.
Given Boston’s lack of backcourt shooting, it’ll need to play Olynyk heavy minutes just to create enough space and driving lanes.
Reserves: Vitor Faverani, Joel Anthony
Vitor Faverani started off as a surprise impact player for Boston but wound up buried on the bench due to his lack of defensive discipline.
Still, he’s a gifted offensive player and shot-blocker, so he warrants another look from Stevens.
The Celtics also owe Joel Anthony an absurd $3.8 million player option, which Basketball Insiders’ Alex Kennedy reported he will be opting into.
Anthony appeared in 21 games for Boston, averaging one point and 1.5 rebounds.
Not exactly an impact acquisition, but he does provide some depth.