Countdown to camp: Resetting depth chart
POINT GUARD: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jordan Crawford, Phil Pressey
Analysis: With Rondo expected to be sidelined for the start of the regular season, new coach Brad Stevens has hinted that Bradley is the early frontrunner to handle point guard responsibilities. The diminished on-ball pressure early in the season and Stevens desire to be a running, up-tempo team could alleviate concerns after Bradley struggled to quarterback the team at times during a Rondo-less postseason. Pressey, the undrafted free agent out of Missouri, is the only pure ball-handler on the roster beyond Rondo and will get a chance to show he's ready for the NBA level after a strong summer performance. With a logjam at the shooting guard spot, slick-passing Crawford can initially carve out a reserve ball-handling role if he shows he can throttle his shot attempts and be a pass-first guard.
SHOOTING GUARD: Courtney Lee, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans
Analysis: Stevens can get all sorts of creative at the 2 and noted we might even see Jeff Green play there at times early in the year. Lee and Bradley comprised the starting backcourt during some of Boston's most inspired ball last season, but Lee must show more consistency at both ends of the floor after an underwhelming first season in green. Brooks is an intriguing scoring option off the bench, while Bogans provides a steady veteran presence in a coach-on-the-floor role. When Rondo is healthy, Bradley is likely the starter here and makes this a crowded field. Crawford and Brooks must distinguish themselves from one another to carve out consistent playing time.
SHOOTING FORWARD: Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace
Analysis: All Green is being asked to do is fill Paul Pierce's shoes and be the No. 1 scoring option for a team in transition. No pressure, right? Green is embracing that target on his back and said he's ready to show he can play a starring role after a late-season breakthrough during the 2012-13 campaign. One of the more interesting parts of camp will be finding out how Wallace fits in. At $10 million per season, he's an expensive sixth man, but Boston can find additional floor time by playing both Green and Wallace at the 4 in smaller lineups.
POWER FORWARD: Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Kris Humphries, Kelly Olynyk
Analysis: It's hard to project Boston's power forward-center rotations because there's a whole bunch of undersized bodies and it's probably going to take much of the preseason for Stevens to figure out how he'll mix and match his talent. Bass is the incumbent at power forward, but Sullinger stole that job in his rookie campaign before back surgery ended his season. Both Stevens and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge have hinted at a desire to pair Sullinger and Olynyk together, which could make it an early reserve pairing if Bass and Humphries start up front.
CENTER: Vitor Faverani
Analysis: Boston's only real offseason splurge, the team used a small chunk of the midlevel exception to sign the Brazilian center to a three-year deal. He's the only one on Boston's roster with pure center size, but the question is how fast he can adapt to the NBA level after cutting his teeth in Spain. Ainge said of Faverani, "He’s got some great skill, he can pass, he can shoot, he can score in the post. But he’s going to have to be more consistent, take better care of the ball than he has in the past, and really ingrain himself into our defensive system. Those will be the questions and we’ll see. But he’s 6-11, 265 pounds, a guy with some skill. We’re excited about his possibilities." That meshes with the early scouting report after his signing. The guess here is that Boston will often go small, utilizing Humphries and Sullinger at the 5 (and hoping that the likes of Green and Olynyk can rebound better than they've shown to this point to offset the lack of size at the center spot).
CAMP INVITES: Chris Babb, Damen Bell-Holter, DeShawn Sims, Kammron Taylor
Analysis: As we've previously noted, Boston has an open roster spot, but virtually no room under the luxury tax line (something they desire to avoid in a transition season). Someone in this group is going to have to really overachieve in camp in order to earn consideration for the NBA roster (something Boston could do if it was willing to trim payroll later via trade). It's more likely that a few of these guys (or some other late camp additions) will land with the Maine Red Claws as affiliated players (a team can shuffle three final camp cuts to their D-League affiliate; it's a lower payday than overseas, but allows the player to develop in Boston's system with a greater chance for a look down the road).
An early projection the starting lineup? Bradley, Lee, Green, Bass and Humphries would be an initial guess. If Sullinger shows he's fully recuperated from back surgery, he can state a case for Bass' spot. The Celtics could also go super small and try to showcase Wallace early on, but we'll have a better idea of how things will look as camp opens and the exhibition season begins. As Stevens has noted, all eight of those preseason games, and each of the 29 days in October leading to the opener in Toronto on Oct. 30, is super important for a team with a lot of questions to answer.
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