Just a couple weeks ago I was breaking down this Celtics roster that very much included Isaiah Thomas on it. Two weeks later and I’m here thinking, what’s next season starting lineup? That’s 4 starters gone, in 1 offseason. Avery traded to the Pistons for Morris, Amir (yes, I know, but he still was a starter for most of the regular season), Jae the Bae Crowder and the mighty one, IT.
Plus Olynyk, Jerebko, James Young, Jordan Mickey, Jackson. That’s a complete roster turnaround. Only Brown, Smart, Rozier and Al left from the ECF team. That’s madness! We are talking about the team that made the ECF last year too.
And what’s, even more, crazier, we might have gotten better. Let’s break down this team and how everyone will fit into Brad’s new system. I will break down the team in 3 categories.
BALL HANDLERS: Kyrie, Smart, Rozier, Larkin, Bird and Allen.
WINGS: Hayward, Brown, Tatum, Ojeleye, Nader.
BIGS: Horford, Baynes, Morris, Yabusele.
PROJECTED STARTING 5:
Let´s get rid of the obvious first. Kyrie, Horford and Hayward are locks to start.
Celtics replaced Thomas with Kyrie, one of the most gifted offensive players in the league. Kyrie averaged 25.2 points, 5.8 assists and 3.2 rebounds while shooting just over 40% the 3PT last season. And that while sharing the stage with the man himself, LeBron James.
At SF, Hayward. The now All Star, who was under the head coaching of our very own Brad Stevens in Butler, has improved his scoring averaged in the last 6 seasons. He’s also a great playmaker.
Hayward is great with the up fake. Here he drives to the middle of the lane, as his path was blocked, he adjusted quickly and found an open Lyles who knocked down the open corner three. Kyrie and Hayward will compliment each other very well. Both can make plays for each other and the rest of the team.
Because of Al’s ability to stretch the floor, this lineup could have some serious offensive upside.
After that? It’s all based up on match ups.
Jaylen is coming off a successful rookie camping. He looked great in the second half of the season and shot the ball very well (37.9% from 3PT after All Star break).
Fans might argue Smart at the 2 and I can see why but he just fits that 6th man role so well and at this point, Rozier isn’t ready to lead the bench. Great rebounder but still lacks shooting (only .367% FG and .318% 3PT last season) and playmaking.
Now, this lineup could have some issues, actually lots of issue with rebounding. Morris isn’t a great rebounder, in fact, he is not a very good rebounder. He only averaged 4.6 rebounds last season and we all know Al is not a very good rebounder for his size. How can Brad maybe fix that? Insert the bigger Baynes at C, and move Morris to the bench.
Baynes would serve the same purpose Amir had. A tough, nasty dog who plays 15 mins a game and does the dirty work. But not finish games. We know Brad loves going small in close games in the 4th. We will see lots of Smart in those situations.
Smart and Rozier will share ball handling duties off the bench.
Baynes and Theis can provide much-needed size to the front court off the bench.
Tatum’s role will unfold as the season goes on. He’s so gifted offensively. Can create his own shot while being effective. He’s got the size. He is a little bit more NBA ready entering the league than Brown was and that will earn him some minutes.
And he is already clutch.
Bird? Allen? Is this a throwback season or what? Jokes aside, this completes the team for now. The player to watch here is the big dancing bear, Yabu, who was overseas last season. We did not see him this past summer league, which sucks, due to a foot injury. The rest will either spend time going back to Maine.
If Danny does not decide to randomly trade Kyrie for Curry, this is the team the Celtics will be rolling with to start the season.
What’re your predictions for the Celtics next year Celtics Nation? Let us know!