clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Evan Turner adds a new dimension to the versatile Boston Celtics

New, comments
Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports

Most of the talk revolving around the Boston Celtics seems to focus on which player will replace Rajon Rondo in the starting lineup, who will likely miss a handful of regular season games with a fractured left third metacarpal.

Whether it's No. 6 pick Marcus Smart, 2013 undrafted free agent Phil Pressey, or newcomer Evan Turner, it's certainly worthy of conversation.

But what's more interesting is how the guard rotation will shake out after Rondo returns. Once that happens, Rondo will occupy between 30 and 38 minutes per game, which means someone is probably going to see their nightly role decrease.

Even if Smart isn't "ready," it's safe to assume he's going to receive heavy minutes due to his status as a high draft pick. Avery Bradley won't be playing point guard, but he will certainly earn plenty of time, at least 30 minutes per game, and Marcus Thornton will play between 10 and 25 per depending on the game flow.

But then there's Pressey and Turner, the two remaining candidates to receive playing time at point guard.

There are quite simply not enough minutes to go around once Rondo returns, and all signs point to the casualty being Pressey. Despite playing 15.1 minutes per game in 75 games as a rookie, someone has to ride the pine.

Though Pressey is a likable player, he still had a hideous 36.4 eFG percentage last season, so he needs to make drastic improvements in order to win consistent playing time over the likes of Smart, Thornton, Turner, and even James Young if he begins to carve out a role sooner than expected.

But that's not necessarily a negative thing for the Celtics. They have a lot of talent at the guard positions, so having a solid pass-first point guard on the end of your bench is helpful when needed.

Hopefully that won't be often though, because if Turner works out the way the Celtics would like him to, then they acquired themselves a versatile, talented player on a cap-friendly contract.

Turner's flexible skills could add a whole new dimension to the Boston Celtics. He says he is learning multiple positions, though the team expects him to play a lot with the ball in his hands.

Must Reads

"We've got multiple primary ball-handlers. I've always been a guy who thinks you can play two point guards together," Stevens said. "We've just got to figure out who can best get the most out of everybody else."

On Monday night the Celtics will kick-off their preseason against the Philadelphia 76ers, and Turner is expected to start if Smart is sidelined with a minor groin injury.

Turner hasn't played a lot of "true" point guard in the NBA, but the one year he did play it in college, he won national college player of the year, as Stevens boasted when discussing his potential point guard.

However, factoring Turner into the rotation of point guards once Rondo returns will be interesting.  Steven has hinted that both Jeff Green and Gerald Wallace could play some power forward, which leads me to believe that we'll see some "small" lineups, with two point guards and a shooting guard on the floor.

This would essentially take playing time away from the big man reserves, like Vitor Faverani and Joel Anthony, as Stevens would maximize his usage of his guards. Coach Stevens has hinted that he already has an idea of the eight or so best players on the team, and that likely includes more guards than it does bigs.

Here is what Boston's depth chart could look like on a typical night, with 13 active players.

Position Player Name/Expected Minutes
Bigs
(C & PF)
Jared Sullinger (30) Tyler Zeller (18) Joel Anthony (0)
Kelly Olynyk (27) Brandon Bass (14) Vitor Faverani (Inactive)
Wings
(SF & SG)
Jeff Green (30) Gerald Wallace (4) -----
Marcus Thornton (17) James Young (D-League) -----
Guards
(SG & PG)
Rajon Rondo (35) Evan Turner (17) Phil Pressey (0)
Avery Bradley (30) Marcus Smart (17) -----

For example, one possible lineup could feature Kelly Olynyk and Green as the bigs, with Rondo, Bradley, and Turner filling in the guard and wing positions. There would be three perimeter shooters (Olynyk, Green, and Bradley), complemented by two distributors (Rondo and Turner). Not to mention that all five of the players on the court are quality passers.

Another more defensive-oriented lineup could feature Zeller at center, with Sullinger at power forward, and Turner, Thornton, and Green at the perimeter positions. Shooters would surround Turner, freeing him to play more of a "pure point" role in this scenario.

Turner's unique skill-set is what makes these adaptive lineups possible. He is a good rebounder for his position, but would permit Stevens to roll with the "two point guard" system that he desires. In doing so, Boston wouldn't be "playing small," since Turner's 6-foot-7 frame would allow them to defend a shooting guard or small forward on the defensive end.

It's easy to see why Brad Stevens told media not to guess what the rotations will look like; it's nearly impossible. But what's certain is that Evan Turner's versatility skills could add a whole new dimension to the Boston Celtics.