One thing i certain going into this season:
The Celtics need five guys to play a total of 240 minutes per game.
Yeah, I know that's up there with "the team with the most points at the end wins the game" for truisms, but let's face it: with the departures of Pierce & Garnett, with Rondo out, and a new head coach... everything's up for grabs. Looking at the performances and apparent preferences in the preseason here are my predictions grouped into "More minutes", "Fewer minutes" and "Middling minutes."
Brandon Bass In a world of low-post bangers and three-point shooters, Bass seems to be at peace with his ability to hit the Robert Parrish Memorial 15-18 foot jumpshot. And more importantly Coach Stevens seems to be comfortable with him using that as his primary offensive weapon. His defensive skills are superior (consider how he's been used against LeBron the past two years) and he seems to have become a quiet leader on the team. He may not pull down 32+ minutes a game, but he will be part of the core rotation.
Avery Bradley No matter his limitations as a point guard and his on-again/off-again outside shot his defense keeps him on the court. Presuming the Celtics are not tanking this year (let's do that for the moment), his presence will be needed as much as possible.
Vitor Faverani What's not to like about a legit seven-footer who runs the floor on both fast breaks and defense, has a solid offensive moves down low and can make a jumpshot out to 20 feet? Yes, his one-on-one defense will be tested throughout the season, but Vitor looks to be willing and able to play physical defense. If he can learn to avoid cheap fouls, he could be the guy we talk about for the next 1o years.
Jeff Green Green is gonna get minutes because of his contract and perceived skills, but I predict he's going to look lost on the court offensively unless he and Olynyk or Faverani develop a give-and-go chemistry from the high post. This is the guy who will miss Rondo's creative abilities the most. I'd love to be proved wrong, but he doesn't feel quite right in any offensive scheme I'v seen yet.
Phil Pressey "More minutes" for Phil means he's the first point guard off the bench, but even though he's tiny he has the spunk and speed to learn and improve at running the offense as he goes. He seems to "get it" whereas other PG candidates haven't.
Gerald Wallace Crash is gonna be out there because his desire and professionalism need to be out there to lead the way for the younger players and to kick the mid-career players in the butt like he already has in the preseason. His ability to cut hard from the corner to the basket is going to be a source of points for the Celtics this year. 24-30 minutes for him is my guess.
Jordan Crawford He's trying, he really seems to be. And his ability to score will be helpful in those possessions where the clock is winding down and someone has to take the shot. That said, he still hasn't gelled in his new role as team offensive instigator yet. Until he does....
Kris Humphries As Vitor waxes someone's minutes have to wane, and here's one person who takes the hit. He'll still get 20-24, but not the 28-32 most folks were figuring.
Courtney Lee Where Brandon Bass is making the mid-range jump shot, Lee isn't. And his utility as a big guard stopper on defense is limited for a team that will likely win by scoring at a higher clip than being lockdown team.Of the five players in this group, he's the most likely to fall into the "Fewer Minutes" group.
Kelly Olynyk Everyone loves KO... but he's a 7-footer with no jumping ability, not much upper body strength and he's a rookie who will likely run out of steam. Yes, he's got some great skills, but I think his progression will be closer to Butler alum Gordon Hayward than Kevin McHale. Gordon Hayward ain't that bad, but I think everyone needs to let off the gas pedal for the Olynyk bandwagon.
Jared Sullinger Sullinger wins my "Player Who Most Wants A Time Machine Back to 1973" award. I look at him and I see Wes Unseld. And I look at today's NBA and think that Wes would be eaten alive at center. At power forward he makes more sense, but Coach Stevens seems determined to play him in the post defensively and that means fast fouls. Sully will benefit the most if Faverani can play starter minutes on a consistent basis: a frontline of Faverani, Sullinger and Green has a lot to recommend it.
Keith Bogan Between his injury and the need to develop younger talent, Bogans goes to the end of the bench where he can be a pseudo-assistant coach. The more minutes Bogans logs, the worse it is for the team though no fault of his own.
MarShon Brooks While Brooks can fill up the basket, he hasn't shown much of a second skill yet. He looks to me like the emergency backup plan to Jordan Crawford 2.0. If he moves up in minutes played, I think it'll be because of injury or inability of another player; he hasn't shown me anything yet that says he will move up based on his own abilities or work ethic.