The Boston Celtics’ front office was a bit busier than expected this offseason. There were multiple moves made to add some fringe talents in places where the team was lacking and one of those places was depth at the point guard position.
This need became a necessity with Kemba Walker hobbled most of last season with a nagging knee injury. The Celtics have since announced that he will not be ready for the start of the regular season with the team eyeing a return in January.
The most prominent addition was veteran point guard Jeff Teague. He was signed on to be the primary backup to bring veteran leadership to this young roster. He will be filling the void of Brad Wanamaker who was not extended a qualifying offer by the Celtics and signed with the Golden State Warriors. Teague will come in to be a bit of an upgrade to Wanamaker as the Celtics know how important this depth is.
The other addition was drafting Payton Pritchard out of Oregon with the 26th pick of this year’s draft. Pritchard hopes to bring some shooting to the bench as he was known as a sharpshooter for the Ducks. Four years of college experience and a high basketball IQ should give Brad Stevens some level of comfort in an early season role for the rookie.
This season the Celtics will be trying to patch together a rotation of true point guards along with the other ball dominant wings on the roster. Kemba Walker is out until at least January, so the new guys will have to be ready immediately to contribute. The Celtics are hoping that Teague can be more of a spark to ignite the offense either off the bench or now as a possible starter.
As everyone knows, this Kemba Walker injury could go on all season long and potentially, through the life of Walker’s max contract. It’s not a secret anymore. Wanamaker received big minutes in some big games because of this, and Stevens will expect Teague to do the same thing.
The rotation to start the season will instantly have Teague getting the big minutes as the true point guard with Kemba out. Stevens will still have his lineups with Marcus Smart as primary ball handler, but that will only be until Teague settles into the offense. It will take this lineup a bit to run together smoothly. Because of that shortened offseason, both Teague and Pritchard will not have as much time as normal to understand and learn in Stevens’ offense. The early games, especially with Teague, will be very important to watch.
It’s important to consider that this is all under a 72-game season. That will mean less days off and more miles for these players to log under the condensed schedule. Coaches across the league will have to go to deeper into their benches to try and combat these challenges. With the Celtics, that means Pritchard or even Carsen Edwards will likely get early minutes to try and find their rhythm with this team. Kemba Walker and Jeff Teague will be able to balance the major load, but on the second game of a back-to-back, look for the young guys to step up.
All in all, the point guard rotation is an upgrade from what it was last year. Jeff Teague, of course, headlines the backup role, however, it is Payton Pritchard who may be able to seal up the back end. Last year, after Wanamaker, it was a revolving door of Carsen Edwards and Tremont Waters minutes that were never a good thing. Hopefully, Teague and Pritchard are able to come in and help manage Kemba Walker’s workload.