In today's edition of Countdown to Celtics Camp, Street Ball asked: "If injuries occur to the starting big men, could Jordan Mickey fill a larger role on the team?"
The Celtics have a plethora of options at center and power forward, and as previously covered, the crowded depth chart could lead to more traditional lineups.
So multiple bigs would likely have to be inactive or injured for an extended period for Mickey to jolt into a consistent role.
But anything is possible, so if Mickey does get the opportunity to play minutes on a nightly basis, expect Brad Stevens to adjust to his personnel by using smaller lineups.
It's en vogue for NBA teams to go small, and more teams will likely copy Golden State's version of small ball this year.
That's why the selection of Mickey is so intriguing.
"[Mickey] is a shot-blocker and an athlete that we desperately need in the frontcourt," said Danny Ainge at June's rookie introductory press conference. "He was the best athlete there, very long and athletic, and he can switch. It's a big thing having big guys that can protect the rim and switch and guard perimeter guys, and we think that Jordan can be one of those guys."
At 6-foot-8, Mickey doesn't have the height of a traditional big, but he has a long 7-foot-3 wingspan and quick leaping ability to compensate. At LSU he showcased the ability to switch screens, often defending perimeter players.
Mickey needs to get better at staying disciplined by not falling for pump fakes and jab steps, but for the most part he showed he can defend the perimeter.
The Celtics would probably play a switching style defense if Mickey is playing "center," much like they did toward the end of last season. If this is the case, versatile lineups including Mickey, Jonas Jerebko, and Jae Crowder could be potent, since they can effectively defend all three frontcourt positions.
The real key for Mickey would be staying disciplined. We already know he's capable of blocking shots, which was clearly evident in his play at LSU (3.6 blocks per game, leading the nation) and in the summer league. But many young bigs struggle to stay out of foul trouble.
Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk aren't exactly high-end rebounders, but they do box out, which is something Mickey would also have to commit to in an elevated role.
Offensively, it'd be unfair to ask much of Mickey. The Celtics probably wouldn't go to him on the low post unless there was a mismatch, and he's clearly not one of the team's best shooters.
But what Mickey can do very well is set screens, which sets him apart from most rookie bigs. On Vantage Sports, Mickey ranked as the best screener from the class of 2015, which suggests he'd be able to handle an off-ball role on offense.
If Mickey is setting hard screens with the proper angle and playing serviceable defense, then he's already established that he can accomplish two key "role player tasks."
Maybe Mickey adjusts to the speed of the NBA and becomes a threat in the pick-and-roll sooner than expected, like he was in the summer league, but even if he doesn't, he has two important skills going for him.
In short: yes, Mickey could probably handle a larger role if necessary, but only one that asks him to do the little things: set screens, contest shots, be versatile on defense, and box out on the boards.
If Mickey is doing more than that, then it's icing on the cake.
Thank you for today's question, Street Ball!