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.