Celtics fans that love fantasy basketball know that this year will be an interesting one if you can draft and hold some of the young players on this team. It's always a thrill to grab players from your favorite team during fantasy drafts, which are gearing up now through the month of October for most fantasy leagues. Celticsblog lended Chris Towers at CBSsports.com a hand by discussing the fantasy implications of the Celtics players. You can listen in at CBSports.com.
The Celtics are an interesting team to gauge because other than Rajon Rondo, most of the team doesn't have established roles set-up where you can bank on them putting up certain numbers in the box score. It varies widely night to night when you no longer have a Big Three in place. The crux of the matter then becomes, who is going to get minutes, and who is going to be the most efficient players with the minutes they have on the floor?
The Celticsblog staff recently got together and estimated what the average stat projections will be for each of the players (see Celtics Stats Projections), Below, we take a cursory fantasy spin on the projections, following the conversation with Chris presented in the podcast.
Based on Coach Brad Stevens' rotations last year, the only players that you can count on getting greater than 30 minutes per game (mpg) are Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. In fantasy basketball, getting big minutes like that can make your ugly duckling a virtual swan!
Rondo is the only Celtics player that will generally go within the first 4 or 5 rounds in fantasy drafts that don't count turnovers (TO). If TOs are counted as a scoring stat - all bets are off - he falls several or more rounds unless you decide to punt TOs of course. Overall, the Celtics' assists leader would be a fantasy stud if not for the poor free throw shooting percentage (FT%), high TOs, and miniscule points/3's. You usually can bank on great FT% and 3s from the PG spot, so Rondo becomes a mixed bag, because his assist totals are in the uber category. This is especially the case this year as the Celtics have surrounded Rondo with better shooters this year, and folks that can run and score in transition. There is also a "contract year" bump that you can anticipate for most players . . . we'll all have to wait and see how he performs once his hand heals.
Jeff Green will get his 35 mpg and likely be the team's highest scorer, but it comes at a price of not being great at anything else in the box score. Nevertheless, because he at least does a little bit of everything, Green typically will be the second Celtics player taken in fantasy drafts. You likely will be able to get him around the 10th round in drafts that don't have rabid Celtics fans!
Avery Bradley played 30.9 mpg last year, but because of the arrival of the likes of Marcus Thornton, Evan Turner and the rookies Marcus Smart and James Young, something has to give. Thankfully, Bradley will be totally relieved of any point guard duties. But when you draft Bradley, you aren't looking for assists anyway - you are looking for 3s, steals and good percentages. Bradley's game doesn't translate well to fantasy production, and he'll most likely go undrafted within the top 150 players of your draft.
The most efficient players for the C's will be Kelly Olynyk, Jared Sullinger, Marcus Thornton and Brandon Bass. You can probably add the unproven Marcus Smart to that list too. If these guys get minutes, they have shown that they will pay fantasy dividends. Olynyk and Sullinger have the highest ceiling of these four, and you can count on them getting more run this year than last.
Olynyk is particularly intriguing as he doesn't hurt you in any category, with potential plus stats in points, 3s, rebounds, and shooting percentages (FG% & FT%). However, if you draft a Center, you expect to get some blocks, and that's not happening with this 7-footer. In fact, you'll have to look elsewhere than the C's if your are jonesing for blocks.
Sullinger is the more popular player and is typically drafted in the 10 through 12 rounds, after Green but before Olynyk. He's obviously a double-double threat every game he plays, and should round out to be comparable to Zach Randolph or Carlos Boozer in their heydays. But Sully will also bring the added dimension of providing 3's. Sully and Olynyk will most likely be available when filling out the 11th or 12th guy on your fantasy roster, and you can't go wrong drafting either one.
Marcus Thornton is a shooter, and you can rely on him for some spot production for 3's. He should see some reliable court time as the Celtics need the scoring. Think of him as the reincarnate of Vinnie "the Microwave" Johnson coming off the bench for the C's in the 4th quarter of close games.
Expect Bass's mpg to drop from the 27.6 he had last year, but that is only because Stevens will look to give Olynyk, Sullinger and Tyler Zeller as much run as they can handle . . . Bass will likely see roughly 5 min less mpg, so don't expect Bass to be worth owning, or Zeller for that matter.
Evan Turner has the tools to be a triple double threat if he gets the minutes, and he would join Rondo in that threat of distinction . . . if he gets the minutes, which obviously can't happen without injuries to key guys. Turner will have to assert himself into the G-SF rotation along with Marcus Smart. I suspect that once Green and Rondo are healthy, we'll see Smart then Turner as the first smalls off the bench.
Which leaves us with Smart. If you are in a keeper or dynasty league, then it's definitely worth dipping in at the end of your draft and grabbing him. He seems destined to play for Stevens simply because he can play defense. He looked like he will be able to fill the stat sheet based on his brief play thus far, and when his shooting comes around, he could be the next fantasy stud on the Celtics. I've seen some expert drafts where people are grabbing him in the top 100. His ultimate fantasy fate will be tied to Rondo being on the Celtics or not. Regardless, he's worth owning for a late roster spot because he looks to be an across the board contributor in fantasy.
Happy drafting everyone - October is the best time of the year!
10/14/2014 addendum from basketballmonster.com on Yahoo pre-ranks for bigs:
Another pair for which Yahoo! is lagging is Kelly Olynyk (178) and Jared Sullinger (131), your expected starting frontcourt for the Celtics. Olynyk was a huge per-minute performer down the stretch last season, and coach Brad Stevens has been raving about him throughout the preseason. Simply put, grab Olynyk anywhere and everywhere that you can. Sullinger is no slouch with the per-minute production, either, and he's now fully healthy and ready to put last season's horrific 43-percent shooting well behind him . . .