One of my favorite things to do in the offseason is to take out a notebook and write out roster and try to make sense of it. Sometimes it involves predicting starters or rotation players. Sometimes I like to see how the vets stack up to the young players. Sometimes I’m just bored and want to kill some time pretending to be the coach or GM.
There are a lot of power rankings, over/unders, over-rated/under-rated lists, and team tier lists around the league. Those seem fun so I thought I’d try my hand at ranking the Celtics roster into tiers. This is useful because it outlines the flexibility available to Ime Udoka depending on matchups. It is also a nice way of avoiding ranking them from 1-to-15 which just seems like splitting subjective hairs. And feel free to rank them within the tiers in the comments (or make up your own tiers).
Tier 1: The Stars - Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown
Not much to elaborate on here. Can’t wait to see them on the court again together.
Tier 2: Starter Capable - Marcus Smart, Robert Williams, Al Horford, Josh Richardson, and Dennis Schroder
I change my mind daily on who else I want to start beside the Jays and it may just depend on how things fit together during camp and in the preseason. To me, Marcus Smart is a lock and everything else is up for debate. There’s even a case to be made for a couple of the guys in the next tier down depending on what Ime wants to do with the rotations. But this is my tier list and this is the group I’d pick from.
Rob Williams vs. Al Horford is a coin toss. I trust Horford more, but if Rob is healthy he might already be better. I don’t think that playing them together is ideal, but that may just be because last year scarred me from double-big lineups.
Personally, I like the idea of starting Richardson and bringing Schroder off the bench. That makes Smart the starting PG. That said, I could see an argument for starting Smart and Schroder together and letting them both share PG duties.
Tier 3: Solid Rotation, Starter Potential - Payton Pritchard, Aaron Nesmith, and Juancho Hernangomez
By the end of the year, any of these guys could be starting, but at the moment they lack the experience that the vets above them in the rotation have. The nice thing about this group is their shooting (or at least willingness to shoot).
Tier 4: Deep Bench, Situational Value - Grant Williams, Romeo Langford, Jabari Parker, Enes Kanter, and Bruno Fernando
Here’s all you need to know about last year’s bench:
- Robert Williams started 13 games and played a total of 985 minutes.
- Semi Ojeleye started 15 games and played a total of 950 minutes.
Injuries and COVID forced the Celtics to use bench players as starters and deep bench players as rotation guys. Last year’s bench was either too young or just not good enough to provide the team with enough quality minutes.
This year’s bench should be better equipped (in theory). Grant Williams, who played 1,138 minutes, is more than capable of filling in for a few games when someone misses some time with a rolled ankle. Kanter is perfectly fine picking up minutes if Horford needs to load manage. If Ime needs to inject a few more points, he can turn to Parker. I’m not sure what Fernando’s role is going to be but he showed some toughness and tenacity in Summer League, so that’s something.
So those are my tiers. Tell me what I got wrong and tell us how you’d break up the tiers.