Celtics Mid-July Roster Rundown
BOSTON – The NBA’s free agent pool is beginning to dry up and we’re beginning to get a clear vision of what the NBA landscape will look like next season. That includes in Boston.
Barring any major trade involving Boston, the C’s may already have their 15 players for next season. As of today, 17 players are under contract. That number will be trimmed down to 15 before opening night in order to meet the NBA’s roster restrictions. That being said, here’s a look at where the roster stands as of today. Players are listed in alphabetical order.
Phil Pressey, Rajon Rondo, Marcus Smart
Boston’s point guard position is stacked with talent, and that’s no sugarcoating.
Four-time NBA All-Star Rajon Rondo will lead the charge during his first full season since 2011-12. He averaged 11.7 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game and 9.8 assists per game during 30 appearances last season. Boston’s coaching staff expects him to be even better this season now that he’s fully healthy.
Playing behind Rondo will be sophomore Phil Pressey and rookie Marcus Smart. Pressey has shown flashes of Rondo in his game and can change the tempo with his speed and vision. Smart, meanwhile, can make a difference with his defense, passing and scoring. He averaged 14.8 PPG, 4.2 RPG and 4.2 APG during the Orlando Pro Summer League and showed flashes of elite defense.
This group possesses everything but elite perimeter shooting. It should be a strength for the C’s.
Avery Bradley, Chris Babb, Keith Bogans, Chris Johnson, Marcus Thornton, James Young
That’s a long list, though it is shorter than it appears seeing as Keith Bogans was excused from the team last season and James Young may log minutes at small forward.
However the chips may fall, the Celtics will have several capable bodies to back up Avery Bradley, who re-signed with the team on Tuesday. He returns to Boston for what is expected to be his third consecutive season as a full-time starter. Bradley’s numbers have improved year after year, and the Celtics expect that trend to continue next season.
One would think that Marcus Thornton, who owns a career scoring average of 13.8 PPG, would be a top option for Brad Stevens when Bradley checks out of the game. We also can’t forget about Chris Johnson’s energy, hustle and defense, or the fact that Chris Babb played well enough to earn a spot on the team last season.
Young is the wild card of the group. He did not play in summer league and his positional future with the Celtics is unknown. If they give him minutes at shooting guard, he should contribute with his great size and shooting.
Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace
No changes here. The Celtics return their two small forwards who were a solid duo last season.
Jeff Green will start after leading Boston in scoring (16.9 PPG) and minutes per game (34.2) a season ago. Many forget that he accomplished those feats while playing his first season as a starting small forward. He should be even better next season, hopefully leading to a spike in both scoring and efficiency.
Boston lost a scoring punch when Green headed to the bench last season but it gained in many other categories. Gerald Wallace was unmatched when it came to defense, hustle, rebounding, passing and leadership. He underwent surgery in early March to repair a torn meniscus and bone spurs in his left knee and ankle. Now healthy, it’s reasonable to expect him to be much better next season.
Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger
Power forward could turn out to be Boston’s most consistent position from top to bottom. There isn’t a team in the league who wouldn’t want Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger.
Bass has proven to be a valued commodity during his time with the Celtics. Not only is he lights-out with his midrange jumper, but he also serves as a versatile defender who eases his team’s stress of defending the pick-and-roll.
More shooters are alongside Bass at power forward, as Olynyk and Sullinger both showed promise last season in shooting the ball from the perimeter. Olynyk’s shooting numbers increased across the board as the season went on, and while Sullinger struggled from 3-point range, the Celtics are confident that he will become an efficient shooter from downtown as time goes on.
That’s a pretty darn good crop of power forwards. They can shoot, they can rebound, and they can defend.
Joel Anthony, Vitor Faverani, Tyler Zeller
There are no All-Stars at the center position for the Celtics. There is, however, promise.
The ever-reliable Joel Anthony returns for his second season with Boston but most fans are interested in whether Vitor Faverani or Tyler Zeller will look the part of a legitimate starting center.
Faverani showed flashes of such while playing 37 games for the Celtics last season. In the second game of the season, one of his eight starts, Faverani pushed for a triple-double by stringing together a crazy line of 12 points, 18 rebounds and six blocked shots. He had 10 more games in which he grabbed at least five rebounds and four other games in which he blocked at least two shots. That’s pretty impressive for a guy who surpassed 10 minutes of playing time only 24 times.
Faverani played through knee pain in the early portions of 2014 and eventually underwent surgery, an arthroscopy to his left knee, on March 7. That procedure ended his season.
Boston hopes that Faverani will return this season with more physicality and consistency. He’s a big guy who can shoot from 3-point range, rebound and block shots. You don’t find that combo every day at the center position.
The Celtics added more promise on June 12 when they acquired Tyler Zeller. Zeller is a 7-footer who progressed greatly from his rookie season to his second season. He averaged 13.7 points per 36 minutes and 9.7 rebounds per 36 minutes last season while shooting 53.8 percent from the field.
There are high hopes in Boston for both Zeller and Faverani. They’ll have an opportunity to show that they can make a difference on the court. If they can fulfill the team’s hopes, the Celtics’ center position will be stronger than many anticipate.