The Celtics depth has been questioned for a few years now, and for a few years they have been proving critics wrong. Pointing fingers at the age of the starting lineup has overshadowed their accomplishments, and it will continue to.
The Celtics have a growing concern for bench depth as their star veterans age, and they addressed the issues this offseason.
The loss of Tony Allen could prove detrimental from a defensive standpoint if other players don't step up, but I doubt that will be too much of a problem with the arrival of new faces Jermaine O'Neal, Shaquille O'Neal, Avery Bradley, Luke Harangody, Von Wafer, Semih Erden, Tony Gaffney, and Oliver Lafayette.
After Shaq and Jermaine, the next three mentions have the greatest likelihood to see any significant time off the bench. I have already previewed in previous articles the dynamic abilities of Avery Bradley(quickness, defense, jump shot) and Von Wafer(quickness, range, offensive versatility) and what they could bring to this squad. Bradley and Wafer are two of the more potentially exciting pieces to the Celtics future.
Luke Harangody, the Celtics second round pick out of Notre Dame, greatly impressed Danny Ainge over the summer with his his outside shooting. At 6'8”, Harangody has post up capability with a three-pointer to boot which could cause a few match-up problems for opposing benches.
Erden was the Celtics 60th pick in the 2008 draft and has yet to make an impact, playing in the Turkish league last year. At 7'1”, Erden adds more size depth, but he has not been very impressive and is unlikely to find any time amongst the other Celtics big men.
Although Shaq and Jermaine will likely be splitting minutes, one of them will inevitably be coming off the bench. Once Kendrick Perkins makes his return in February, two of the three will be. This makes for significant size waiting in the wings.
Nate Robinson, as he proved late in the playoffs, is growing accustomed to his unique role on the Celtics and his tenacious quickness should only prove more effective this year. He is learning to control his sometimes over-the-top efforts he made as a starter in New York.
Marquis Daniels was one of last year's hopeful additions for the Celtics. Daniels was a proven lock-down defender in Indiana, but injuries(thumb) kept him from returning to form as he missed 31 games. Daniels is now fully healthy and has a chance to prove his future worth on a one-year deal. Look for him to have a much stronger presence this year.
Whoops, I almost forgot to mention “Big Baby”. Glen Davis is still unable to avoid his nickname, even after requesting the name “Ticket Stub” as a disciple to Kevin Garnett's “The Big Ticket.”
Davis spoke with the Boston Globe recently, passionate about his future:
“This is the year of finally hitting that line of maturity, of finally becoming that player that I knew I could be. This is the year of just all-around. Throughout my career, my three years being here, it’s been up and down. When I play, you’ve seen glimpses, like, ‘Wow, this guy could start. Or come off the bench.’ Glimpses up and down. But this is the year of Glen becoming that whole player that 10 years down the road, eight years down the road will hopefully be an all-star.”
Davis is fully capable of living up to his chatter. While working with Kevin Garnett he has progressively developed some of KG's intensity and defensive prowess. His strength makes up for some of his size issues against bigger players and his jumper on the elbows seems to become a more reliable signature every year.
The Celtics bench is full of proven veterans and full of potential this year. The massive upside of some of their youth will likely become necessary, but for now they are just an added bonus that should have Celtics fans buzzing. Be ready to hear some of these new names more and more when the season gets under way.