Boston Celtics: What Is Semih Erden's Ultimate Role?

Chaz SuretteCorrespondent IDecember 21, 2010

BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 16:  Semih Erden #86 of the Boston Celtics celebrates his basket against the Atlanta Hawks on December 16, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Hawks 102-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Boston Celtics may be battling injuries now, but the hope held by both the team and the fanbase is that the Green will be healthy down the stretch and into the playoffs.

Right now, the Celtics are without Rajon Rondo, Delonte West, Jermaine O'Neal and Kendrick Perkins. Because of this, head coach Doc Rivers has been forced to move third-string players up into the second-string, such as rookie guard Avery Bradley, rookie forward Luke Harangody and Turkish transplant Semih Erden.

Bradley and Harangody have gotten relatively little playing time, as Nate Robinson has primarily played point guard with Ray Allen and Marquis Daniels sharing the majority of shooting guard duties. Harangody has had to play under Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal, Glen Davis and Erden.

Ultimately, it will take time for Bradley and Harangody to develop, and will need to learn the ropes before they can compete at the top of the league; a fully healthy squad would likely freeze them out of the game except in times of severe foul trouble.

The real question is this: If everyone gets healthy, what will happen to Semih Erden in the middle of a loaded, veteran frountcourt?

Once Kendrick Perkins returns to the lineup following recovery from his knee injury (currently thought to be sometime near the All-Star break), Jermaine O'Neal heals up following his combination of injuries and assuming Garnett and Shaq stay healthy, there will be seven big men on this team.

Take out the rookie Harangody, there are six, including Erden. Although he has stepped up as of late, including having to start several games in the absence of Shaq, he will battling several veterans in the frountcourt, veterans who have had tenure not only in the league, but on the Celtics, like Garnett, Perkins and Davis.

Not only that, these are guys who have proven their worth on the court. Erden is clearly not on the same level as these guys; he's lanky and awkward, and although he has at least some potential, he's still a ways off.

I realize it's not his fault; Turkey's professional basketball league doesn't even come close to the intensity of the NBA. However, because this is the NBA, you need to be prepared and be ready to acclimate quickly.

Clearly, he's not entirely ready to play in the U.S. and it's unclear how long that will take.

At this point, it is appearing increasingly likely that Semih Erden will be left out if every big man comes back healthy. He may be relegated to third-string or worse at center, behind Perk and the two O'Neals. At power forward, he would be behind KG and Glen Davis.

As much as this is an unfortunate occurrence, it appears that Semih's opportunities may be limited in the future, as he is benefitting from a depleted frountcourt. Once everyone is back healthy (assuming that this can happen), he may very well be forced out of the rotation.

Or, perhaps at best, his role will be limited to coming in, as stated above, in severe (and rare) cases of foul trouble or in massive blowouts toward the end of the regular season as a means of resting starters and upper-level bench players.

Unfortuante? Yes. Inevitable, and part of the modern NBA? Yes.