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Rotation Battles in Training Camp

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Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#1 » by Elrod is Back » Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:35 pm

Jay King has a new piece on The Athletic trying to project the Cs rotation for next season. https://theathletic.com/1092944/2019/07/25/king-taking-a-guess-at-how-celtics-new-rotation-will-play-out/?source=dailyemail

Jay did as well as one could expect, but I think it is a thankless, and fruitless, exercise. The best we can do is forecast what the key battles will be for slots in the rotation. There are simply too many unknowns this year to do anything more. That is the point of this post/thread.

As I see it six players are sure bets to get major starter/rotation minutes barring injury. They are Walker, Brown, Hayward, Tatum, Kantor and Smart. Probably all five starters and the first guy off the bench are among those six. Between them they will probably play around 180 of the 240 game minutes. That leaves around 60 minutes for the rest of the rotation.

In my view a rotation guy plays a minimum of 10-12 minutes per game, and probably more like 14-20. They play in both halves and have a regular role. There may be guys who play every now and then as situation guys—last year’s Semi Ojeleye, anyone?—but that is not a rotation guy. I think the Cs will probably have three such rotation slots available after the first six guys, making for a nine-man rotation. Four guys after the first six at most. If Brad tries to squeeze five guys into 60 minutes there will not be enough time to develop consistency and continuity.

As I see it there are three main battles for rotation slots.

Battle Number One: Back-up 5. The Cs will need to have a rotation big to be able to defend the 5. The battle here, as I see it, is between Vincent Poirier and Robert Williams. Daniel Theis could get spot minutes here if the other team goes small, but I think the Cs need to develop a legitimate 5 in their rotation, someone who plays at least 15 minutes per game. I think this is completely wide open and either Williams or Poirier can win it.

Battle Number Two: Back-up 4. The Cs will likely start Tatum at the 4, and at any rate he will play at least half of his minutes there, if not more. They need a legitimate 4 to play many of the other minutes, one who can defend an NBA 4 and nail a three pointer. The battle here is between Daniel Theis and Grant Williams. (I do not include Semi Ojeleye as a back-up 4 because he is purely a spot guy here—useful to take on big 3s playing as small ball 4s, but not good against strong guys 6-8 or taller. Semi is better laterally than he is vertically, and as far as rebounding goes he makes Brian Scalabrine look like Bill Russell.) In this case I think the edge goes to Theis because of his experience. The Theis of 17-18 was a damned good player, and no reason to think Theis won’t return to form now that he has had time to recover from his knee injury. It is not out of the question that Williams gains ground during the course of the season, and is in the rotation come the spring. He is really hard to project. I will say that were Williams two inches taller I’d like his chances right out of the gate a lot more.

Battle Number Three: Back-up Guard: The Cs are stacked at the wing position and all those minutes will be covered by Tatum-Brown-Hayward-Smart. But there will be minutes available at back-up guard, and because of Smart’s flexibility—he can play the 1, 2, or 3—Brad can opt for any type of guard. The candidates are Edwards, Langford and Wanamaker. They each have a shot. Edwards looks to be on the inside track because he has the instant offense thing going, which can be helpful. But Langford may surprise—we are all keen to see him in action—and Wanamaker was steady in limited minutes last year. If Semi Ojeleye makes a quantum leap in training camp he could bully his way into the rotation, with Marcus playing most of the back-up guard minutes. But I think that is a long-shot. I think Semi is more likely to be in line for irregular spot duty depending upon match-ups.

So that is how I project the training camp battles to be. I have no idea how they will turn out, and I suspect they are wide open right now. It is worth noting that having this many training camp battles on a team expected to make the playoffs and win a round or two in the playoffs is unusual. Last year, by comparison, we pretty much knew who was going to play before training camp. The only question was how the minutes would get divvied up.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#2 » by cloverleaf » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:36 pm

Of the backups, I think Smart gets his usual 30 minutes and then there will be a lot of 10-12 minute players for a good chunk of the season, including RW, DT, GW, and CE. That's a regular 10-man rotation. Possibly VP, RL or BW if one of them shows well and gets those minutes too, making it an 11-man rotation. Otherwise, they will be deep/situational bench, along with Semi and, I hope, Tacko.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#3 » by Curmudgeon » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:20 am

The starting 5 should be Theis-Tatum-Hayward-Brown-Walker. I feel strongly that Kanter should come off the bench. 6th man is Smart, then Kanter-G. Williams-Ojeleye (or TL or Poirier). You always want Smart and a second good interior defender on the floor with Kanter. Let Enes do what he does best: score the basketball against the other team's second unit.

If Kanter starts at the beginning of the season, I expect that to change after a few games.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#4 » by cloverleaf » Sat Jul 27, 2019 12:55 am

Curmudgeon wrote:The starting 5 should be Theis-Tatum-Hayward-Brown-Walker. I feel strongly that Kanter should come off the bench. 6th man is Smart, then Kanter-G. Williams-Ojeleye (or TL or Poirier). You always want Smart and a second good interior defender on the floor with Kanter. Let Enes do what he does best: score the basketball against the other team's second unit.

If Kanter starts at the beginning of the season, I expect that to change after a few games.


Theis just can't defend adequately against the bigger starting centers. He's okay at the 5 in small ball against lots of bench units, but I think will get played more at the 4 this year anyway. On the other hand Kanter's D is suspect for a starting unit that otherwise is already somewhat weak on D. The good solution would be Rob to start, but he's probably not ready for that. So I think they'll probably roll with Kanter to start the season, and if that fails, they will go with whatever other option among Theis, Williams and Poirier seems to be playing best for that role.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#5 » by BfB » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:43 am

Elrod is Back wrote:Jay King has a new piece on The Athletic trying to project the Cs rotation for next season. https://theathletic.com/1092944/2019/07/25/king-taking-a-guess-at-how-celtics-new-rotation-will-play-out/?source=dailyemail

Jay did as well as one could expect, but I think it is a thankless, and fruitless, exercise. The best we can do is forecast what the key battles will be for slots in the rotation. There are simply too many unknowns this year to do anything more. That is the point of this post/thread.

As I see it six players are sure bets to get major starter/rotation minutes barring injury. They are Walker, Brown, Hayward, Tatum, Kantor and Smart. Probably all five starters and the first guy off the bench are among those six. Between them they will probably play around 180 of the 240 game minutes. That leaves around 60 minutes for the rest of the rotation.

In my view a rotation guy plays a minimum of 10-12 minutes per game, and probably more like 14-20. They play in both halves and have a regular role. There may be guys who play every now and then as situation guys—last year’s Semi Ojeleye, anyone?—but that is not a rotation guy. I think the Cs will probably have three such rotation slots available after the first six guys, making for a nine-man rotation. Four guys after the first six at most. If Brad tries to squeeze five guys into 60 minutes there will not be enough time to develop consistency and continuity.

As I see it there are three main battles for rotation slots.

Battle Number One: Back-up 5. The Cs will need to have a rotation big to be able to defend the 5. The battle here, as I see it, is between Vincent Poirier and Robert Williams. Daniel Theis could get spot minutes here if the other team goes small, but I think the Cs need to develop a legitimate 5 in their rotation, someone who plays at least 15 minutes per game. I think this is completely wide open and either Williams or Poirier can win it.

Battle Number Two: Back-up 4. The Cs will likely start Tatum at the 4, and at any rate he will play at least half of his minutes there, if not more. They need a legitimate 4 to play many of the other minutes, one who can defend an NBA 4 and nail a three pointer. The battle here is between Daniel Theis and Grant Williams. (I do not include Semi Ojeleye as a back-up 4 because he is purely a spot guy here—useful to take on big 3s playing as small ball 4s, but not good against strong guys 6-8 or taller. Semi is better laterally than he is vertically, and as far as rebounding goes he makes Brian Scalabrine look like Bill Russell.) In this case I think the edge goes to Theis because of his experience. The Theis of 17-18 was a damned good player, and no reason to think Theis won’t return to form now that he has had time to recover from his knee injury. It is not out of the question that Williams gains ground during the course of the season, and is in the rotation come the spring. He is really hard to project. I will say that were Williams two inches taller I’d like his chances right out of the gate a lot more.

Battle Number Three: Back-up Guard: The Cs are stacked at the wing position and all those minutes will be covered by Tatum-Brown-Hayward-Smart. But there will be minutes available at back-up guard, and because of Smart’s flexibility—he can play the 1, 2, or 3—Brad can opt for any type of guard. The candidates are Edwards, Langford and Wanamaker. They each have a shot. Edwards looks to be on the inside track because he has the instant offense thing going, which can be helpful. But Langford may surprise—we are all keen to see him in action—and Wanamaker was steady in limited minutes last year. If Semi Ojeleye makes a quantum leap in training camp he could bully his way into the rotation, with Marcus playing most of the back-up guard minutes. But I think that is a long-shot. I think Semi is more likely to be in line for irregular spot duty depending upon match-ups.

So that is how I project the training camp battles to be. I have no idea how they will turn out, and I suspect they are wide open right now. It is worth noting that having this many training camp battles on a team expected to make the playoffs and win a round or two in the playoffs is unusual. Last year, by comparison, we pretty much knew who was going to play before training camp. The only question was how the minutes would get divvied up.


Wouldn’t discount Semi getting a tie-hold on those 4/3 minutes


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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#6 » by Curmudgeon » Sat Jul 27, 2019 2:56 am

Who knows? The issue is interior defense at the center position.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#7 » by zoyathedestroya » Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:32 am

My locks as starters: Kemba, Tatum, Hayward
My locks to play 30+ mpg: Kemba, Tatum, Hayward, Brown
My locks to play 26+ mpg: Smart

Open for audition:
◾Starting Wing - Brown vs. Smart (Brown's to lose)
◾Starting Big - Kanter vs. R.Williams vs. Poirier vs. Theis (don't really want to discount anyone; no standout coming into camp)
◾Primary Backup Big - whoever isn't starting from above but my preference is Kanter
◾Primary Backup Wing - Langford vs. Ojeleye vs. Edwards
◾Primary Backup Swing - Ojeleye vs. G.Williams vs. Theis

If Kanter has to play 28+ mpg* because no other big stands out, we might be in trouble. Or we might need a midseason upgrade. Or maybe Kanter isn't hurting us spending so much time on the floor. I'm desperate to be proven wrong by Enes on defense. (CAN'T SPELL DEFENSE WITHOUT ENES!)

* The last time Kanter played over 28 mpg was as a backup big for OKC in 2014-15. They were significantly worse on defense and slightly worse overall when he was on the court. The following year, his playing time was cut by around 10 minutes per game. In 2016 (#4 in defensive rating), our main bigs were Sully, Amir, and KO. None of them played over 24 mpg. I can see us doing the same this year to be competitive on that end.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#8 » by BfB » Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:57 am

Curmudgeon wrote:Who knows? The issue is interior defense at the center position.


No question. We’ll see how that plays out with the options on hand. If it can’t be solved internally the team is positioned to seek alternatives on the market.

Lots of player development storylines at other positions need to shake out before there’s a clear go-forward.


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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#9 » by djFan71 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 6:51 am

BfB wrote:
Curmudgeon wrote:Who knows? The issue is interior defense at the center position.


No question. We’ll see how that plays out with the options on hand. If it can’t be solved internally the team is positioned to seek alternatives on the market.

Lots of player development storylines at other positions need to shake out before there’s a clear go-forward.


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I’m genuinely curious, how are they positioned? That’s the one thing I don’t love about this off-season. No flexibilty for trades. We have valuable assets, but it’s hard to compile a lot of them to match salary without giving up Smart or a bunch of guys we like. It feels like we’re limited to overpaying for bigs on rookie contracts or sending out people we don’t want to.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#10 » by Elrod is Back » Sat Jul 27, 2019 3:30 pm

BfB wrote:
Curmudgeon wrote:Who knows? The issue is interior defense at the center position.


No question. We’ll see how that plays out with the options on hand. If it can’t be solved internally the team is positioned to seek alternatives on the market.

Lots of player development storylines at other positions need to shake out before there’s a clear go-forward.


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Great to see BfB on this board again!
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#11 » by TheTruth316 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:42 pm

I think competition is good. Marcus smart is no lock for major minutes. If all he is doing is me three misses, then he needs to sit. Edwards is going to play 20 minutes, score 14 +. Williams is going to play and score 8 to 10. It would be ideal if Rob Williams got in shape, focus so he started. Kanter does one thing well that we have not had. He rebounds. Especially offensively. In my mind I pair him with a poor shooter smart... If porier is as good as advertised, I start him. I love theis but think he won't play much .
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#12 » by ZeroTolerance » Sat Jul 27, 2019 4:49 pm

Top silly season question... Can Hayward and Kantner possibly be on the floor at the same time without Marcus Smart being there too to take up the slack defensively?

The possible answer could depend on Hayward's recovery or the lack of....

And dusting off my infamous "Debbie Downer hat"....I fear this year's likely mid-season POed board fan cry could be ""Trade Hayward now....I want him outa here!"

Seriously....it's way too early to form a decent opinion beyond going with last year's roles....I've given up trying to make sense of a team that we haven't seen play a minute together as yet...And unlike some of you, I see the youngsters having larger roles than most here are talking about....But we will see what shakes out?... I think the Williams boys will play allot... and the same goes for Mr. instant offense Carsen Edwards....
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#13 » by Curmudgeon » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:09 pm

Yeah, it's too early, especially since there's an open roster spot and still a few veterans looking for work.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#14 » by Bad-Thoma » Sat Jul 27, 2019 5:43 pm

TheTruth316 wrote: Marcus smart is no lock for major minutes. If all he is doing is me three misses, then he needs to sit.


Marcus will probably stay around his career average, 28 min. As for "all he is doing is missing threes" (translated) that's an effing joke, aside from shooting slightly above the league average from 3 last season he does a **** ton of things on the floor. Saying all he does is miss 3's is one of the most ludicrous things I've heard on this board, and that's no small feat.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#15 » by snowman » Sat Jul 27, 2019 7:57 pm

Starters:
Walker, Brown, Tatum, THEIS, Kanter
Theis should be starting 4 in place of Hayward, allowing more defense in the middle, and a second ball handler too come off the bench. Theis is a good 3 pt shooter, and should get plenty of open looks with all the other offensive player on the court.

Bench/ rest of rotation players:
Smart, Hayward, G. Williams, R. Williams, Poirier

deep bench:
Edwards, Wannamaker, Langford, Semi, Tacko.

Smart, Hayward and Poirier could all be in the starting lineup by allstar break, replacing Brown, Theis and Kanter.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#16 » by cloverleaf » Sat Jul 27, 2019 9:14 pm

snowman wrote:Starters:
Walker, Brown, Tatum, THEIS, Kanter
Theis should be starting 4 in place of Hayward, allowing more defense in the middle, and a second ball handler too come off the bench. Theis is a good 3 pt shooter, and should get plenty of open looks with all the other offensive player on the court.

Bench/ rest of rotation players:
Smart, Hayward, G. Williams, R. Williams, Poirier

deep bench:
Edwards, Wannamaker, Langford, Semi, Tacko.

Smart, Hayward and Poirier could all be in the starting lineup by allstar break, replacing Brown, Theis and Kanter.
snowman wrote:Starters:
Walker, Brown, Tatum, THEIS, Kanter
Theis should be starting 4 in place of Hayward, allowing more defense in the middle, and a second ball handler too come off the bench. Theis is a good 3 pt shooter, and should get plenty of open looks with all the other offensive player on the court.

Bench/ rest of rotation players:
Smart, Hayward, G. Williams, R. Williams, Poirier

deep bench:
Edwards, Wannamaker, Langford, Semi, Tacko.

Smart, Hayward and Poirier could all be in the starting lineup by allstar break, replacing Brown, Theis and Kanter.


I think the expected plan would have Gordon at the 3 and Tatum at the 4, but Brad's system really needs Hayward in there starting as a secondary ball handler, a role that Al used to fill.

Also, Edwards is gonna force his way into the rotation from the start. Grant more likely at the 4 than 3 and Rob and Poirier probably don't work on the court together, as they are both offensively challenged with little range.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#17 » by The Comedian » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:07 pm

TheTruth316 wrote:I think competition is good. Marcus smart is no lock for major minutes. If all he is doing is me three misses, then he needs to sit. Edwards is going to play 20 minutes, score 14 +. Williams is going to play and score 8 to 10. It would be ideal if Rob Williams got in shape, focus so he started. Kanter does one thing well that we have not had. He rebounds. Especially offensively. In my mind I pair him with a poor shooter smart... If porier is as good as advertised, I start him. I love theis but think he won't play much .


Of course Smart is a lock to play major minutes, thinking otherwise is fooling yourself. Brad LOVES him, if he played him 27+ minutes when he was shooting 35/30, he's not going to stop now that Smart is coming off as a season as a top 50 player.

Also, Edwards is not going to average 14+ a game lol. C'mon. Id guess somewhere between 6-9 at most, which would be awesome for a backup rookie guard.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#18 » by CelticsPride18 » Sat Jul 27, 2019 10:47 pm

The Comedian wrote:
TheTruth316 wrote:I think competition is good. Marcus smart is no lock for major minutes. If all he is doing is me three misses, then he needs to sit. Edwards is going to play 20 minutes, score 14 +. Williams is going to play and score 8 to 10. It would be ideal if Rob Williams got in shape, focus so he started. Kanter does one thing well that we have not had. He rebounds. Especially offensively. In my mind I pair him with a poor shooter smart... If porier is as good as advertised, I start him. I love theis but think he won't play much .


Of course Smart is a lock to play major minutes, thinking otherwise is fooling yourself. Brad LOVES him, if he played him 27+ minutes when he was shooting 35/30, he's not going to stop now that Smart is coming off as a season as a top 50 player.

Also, Edwards is not going to average 14+ a game lol. C'mon. Id guess somewhere between 6-9 at most, which would be awesome for a backup rookie guard.


People need to lower their expectations on the rookies. They looked good in the SL but the NBA is different. I expect Wanamaker to get the first shot at backup guard minutes because he’s an experienced player and played really well as a third string pg last year.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#19 » by Slartibartfast » Sat Jul 27, 2019 11:39 pm

djFan71 wrote:
BfB wrote:
Curmudgeon wrote:Who knows? The issue is interior defense at the center position.


No question. We’ll see how that plays out with the options on hand. If it can’t be solved internally the team is positioned to seek alternatives on the market.

Lots of player development storylines at other positions need to shake out before there’s a clear go-forward.


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I’m genuinely curious, how are they positioned? That’s the one thing I don’t love about this off-season. No flexibilty for trades. We have valuable assets, but it’s hard to compile a lot of them to match salary without giving up Smart or a bunch of guys we like. It feels like we’re limited to overpaying for bigs on rookie contracts or sending out people we don’t want to.


I don't think they are necessarily shooting for someone superamazing. The brass's apparent refusal to think of trading Tatum and reluctance to pay Horford makes me think they are comfortable with Tatum at the 4 long-term even if his body isn't filled out enough yet.

If they feel they have star-ish talents 1-4 with Kemba/JB/Hayward/Tatum, then they might be cool with an offensively limited 5 that has more defensive value than our current assortment.

I think that's fairly doable with our bargain bin big platter or with smaller deals centering on picks. My favorite target is Cody Zeller as I think he would come very cheap. Mason Plumlee from Denver might be available. Allen from BK might be available now that they have Jordan (though he wouldn't be cheap).

I don't think our 1-4 set-up will work as well as Ainge and Brad seem to, but if they do, our 5 spot will be simple to address. Kanter and co. just aren't the right guys to do so.
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Re: Rotation Battles in Training Camp 

Post#20 » by Slartibartfast » Sun Jul 28, 2019 12:14 am

zoyathedestroya wrote:My locks as starters: Kemba, Tatum, Hayward
My locks to play 30+ mpg: Kemba, Tatum, Hayward, Brown
My locks to play 26+ mpg: Smart

Open for audition:
◾Starting Wing - Brown vs. Smart (Brown's to lose)
◾Starting Big - Kanter vs. R.Williams vs. Poirier vs. Theis (don't really want to discount anyone; no standout coming into camp)
◾Primary Backup Big - whoever isn't starting from above but my preference is Kanter
◾Primary Backup Wing - Langford vs. Ojeleye vs. Edwards
◾Primary Backup Swing - Ojeleye vs. G.Williams vs. Theis

If Kanter has to play 28+ mpg* because no other big stands out, we might be in trouble. Or we might need a midseason upgrade. Or maybe Kanter isn't hurting us spending so much time on the floor. I'm desperate to be proven wrong by Enes on defense. (CAN'T SPELL DEFENSE WITHOUT ENES!)

* The last time Kanter played over 28 mpg was as a backup big for OKC in 2014-15. They were significantly worse on defense and slightly worse overall when he was on the court. The following year, his playing time was cut by around 10 minutes per game. In 2016 (#4 in defensive rating), our main bigs were Sully, Amir, and KO. None of them played over 24 mpg. I can see us doing the same this year to be competitive on that end.


I think JB is a lock to start - I don't think they are going to bring him off the bench in a contract year. Morris being gone and unreplaced I think is a concession to JB/Hayward so they can both start.

Big: Kanter would be best off the bench - he'll get more post-up opportunities and he'll face less dangerous offensive players.
Problem is picking the starter. I don't think RWIII qualifies - still too green. Poirier has the advantage of being a complete unknown so we can pretend he's starter-grade. Theis' spacing is probably the best offensive fit but he's also the smallest and we can't really afford to be small. I think Kanter gets it for the first few games before Brad's David Lee flashbacks kick in. So I'm gonna guess Poirier/Kanter is what we end up with.

Back-up wing I think is Marcus (taking JB's spot as 6th man) and the 3 spots open are Rozier's and Hayward's and Semi's 7th, 8th and 10th men roles.

I think Edwards, Langford and Grant are going to be the ultimate winners there. Not because they are world beaters, but because Brad doesn't seem to have excessive faith in Wanamaker and Semi

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