Brad Stevens has indicated that he prefers Enes Kanter in a role where he comes off the bench. That leaves the Celtics with a decision to make at starting center. The team has 3 traditional big man options with no clear cut favorite.So I asked the team for their suggestions.
Since it seems like Kanter is coming off the bench this season (I would have him starting), my choice at center would be Robert Williams III, i.e. Timelord. Williams brings a different edge to the center position that we haven’t seen in some time for the Celtics. He’s a young, athletic center that could stick to a role that doesn’t expect much from him. Offensively, the points will come from the players around him, and he can contribute finishing around the rim and rebounding. On defense, Williams can impact the game far more with rim protection and the athleticism that Kanter doesn’t possess. Without huge pressure on him, he has the upside to develop into the center the Celtics have missed.
Daniel Theis (and Gordon Hayward) straight up manhandled an enormous Orlando lineup that gave the Celtics trouble last year. Even without Vucevic playing, I fully expected this matchup to be terrible for Boston. Without Kemba, it could be worse. Theis standing his ground against bruisers like Aaron Gordon is huge, and pretty easily answers some of the questions we’ve had since the first preseason game. If the Timelord isn’t ready, do we have someone who can step in? If Kanter doesn’t look good in the starting lineup, do we have any other options? Yes, and yes. His numbers fly a bit under the radar, but statistically, Theis was better last year than his rookie season, even if he never looked fully healthy. This team is so young that Theis might as well be a veteran, and as a solid front court defender I think he scales the depth chart and lands the starting role.
As the pioneer of the term “Poirier Foyer,” I feel responsible for representing Vincent Poirier in this conversation. But in all seriousness, I’m quite bullish on the idea of Poirier starting alongside the ostensible lineup of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward and Jayson Tatum.
Enes Kanter is on the bench because his skillset would seem to run contrary to how that starting unit would want to play. Poirier, on the flip side, would perhaps fit perfectly. He’s simply an outstanding finisher at the rim, perhaps the best pick-and-roll finisher the Celtics have had in some time, and the playmaker-heavy starting lineup of this team desperately needs a big man who does his best work without the ball in his hands. Poirier provides that in spades. Additionally, at a legit seven feet tall, he also provides much-needed size to an otherwise quite small starting lineup. Poirier may likely be nothing more than a drop defender at the NBA level, but for 10-15 minutes a night, I think there’s quite a bit of value to be gleaned from letting him loose alongside the Celtics’ best playmakers.
I’m going to cheat and play the Brad Stevens coach-speak card. Chances are the team is going to experiment a lot with this position and the rotations in general. I could see Brad beginning the year with Theis if only because there’s tremendous value in just knowing where to be on the court at all times. Perhaps sometime during the middle of the year Poirier can take over if only because he’s larger than Theis. I am very much hoping that Robert Williams will make enough progress to earn the starting center spot by the end of the year. There are other options as well with going small (Grant Williams? Start Marcus Smart and forget having a traditional big?) but I’m not a fan of that as a long term solution.
Clearly the team has some decisions to make at this position. What are your suggestions? Vote below and share your thoughts in the comments.
Who should start at center for the Celtics? (assuming Kanter comes off the bench)
This poll is closed
Robert Williams III