If the season started today, who would start for the Boston Celtics?
As free agency winds down, now is a good time for teams to reflect on their off-seasons and start to look at what roles each of their new acquisitions will have. From draft picks to free agents and even trade acquisitions, there are many new faces on each team that will look to make their mark and contribute to their team. As of right now, the Boston Celtics have a logjam at two areas of their team. One being the point guard position and the other being the power forward position. The Celtics elected to take a point guard in the first round of the NBA draft for the second straight year and also signed a power forward and acquired another power forward through trade. Although the team may not be done with their offseason, now is a good time to look at who should get the starting nods.
The point guard position should be one of the easiest positions to predict for this upcoming season. 2014 first round pick, Marcus Smart, showed great potential last season, especially with his motor on defense. If the summer league has taught us anything so far it is that Marcus Smart looks to have taken great strides to make himself a more complete offensive player. Some might say that now is the time to start Isaiah Thomas, but in my opinion, Thomas is perfect as the 6th man of this Celtics team.
Shooting Guard is another position that should be fairly easy to foresee. Avery Bradley had another solid season for Boston last year. Although he still needs to work on some parts of his offensive game, his ability to shoot and his great on ball defense, make him a lock to start the year along with Smart in the backcourt. There is really no competition with Bradley for this position as every other player who might be in line for the starting role is either too young and inexperienced or fits a different position better.
The battle for the starting small forward will most likely be between Evan Turner and Jae Crowder. Although Crowder just signed a new long term deal to remain in green for the foreseeable future, I still see Turner as the starter right now. I do believe that Crowder will become the starter at some point this season, but until Smart begins to display more playmaking ability, I expect Turner to continue where he left off last season. Turner displayed great ability that led to him having a very solid season in green. He finished tied for third in the NBA in triple-doubles which shows how he broadened his array of skills to fit what the team needed. Crowder is not far behind in my book, but for the sake of argument, Turner is the better fit right now.
Although the Celtics have a number of very good young options to start at power forward, I believe that the best bet will be that veteran David Lee will get the start. Lee had a down year last season as he lost his starting role and even missed quite a few games with injuries. Golden State’s ability to win without Lee playing a big role was one of the reasons why the team decided to trade him to a team where he will get more playing time. In Boston, Lee immediately becomes the best offensive option at the position and even one of their better rebounders which should be of great help to a Celtics team that struggled in that area last season. If Lee can get back to playing like he has for most of his career, then the Celtics will have themselves a great option at the position for the upcoming season.
The center position for the Celtics is one that is still very much up in the air. The team could try to put third year center Kelly Olynyk out there as he would be a great compliment to Lee’s low post game. However, I believe that seven footer Tyler Zeller should get the nod as the starter. Last season he proved to be a capable mid-range shooter and also a fairly decent option around the rim. Although he lacks the shot blocking ability that the team needs, he gives them a good option moving forward as he continues to grow into the type of player he will become. With more minutes and more familiarity with the team, I expect Zeller to continue to improve in every area of his game and help the Celtics get where they want to be.
There is still time for the team to make other moves to make the roster look more balanced, but if they decided to stay with the current group, I believe that they would have a great chance to get back to the postseason. The team will still have their best two reserve players in Thomas and Crowder and, with the signing of Amir Johnson, the Celtics have another solid forward option to go along with Jared Sullinger. Although there are many different players who could fit in starting roles this upcoming season, I believe that the group of players I listed are the best fits with where the team will be as they continue to develop into a contending team in the Eastern Conference.
Colby Gatz covers the Boston Celtics for MFST, and you can follow him on Twitter @bostonfan_15.