We’re a week away from Opening Night against the Sixers. The preseason is winding down and it is time for the games that count to start counting. So, let’s lock down the starting lineup, shall we?
Since this discussion is for the start of the season, we’re taking Robert Williams III out of the equation. I think it is pretty safe to assume that Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Al Horford will all be starting. I think the team is pretty committed to Marcus Smart starting as well. So, what we’re really talking about here is the 5th starter.
You could make a case for Malcolm Brogdon, but the team seems set on bringing him off the bench in a 6th man role. Joe Mazzulla may have tipped his hand by starting Derrick White in all the preseason games thus far. That lineup leans into small-ball and gets ball movers on the court together. However, they do lack the length that last year’s double big lineups provided.
You could make a case for starting Luke Kornet, who has missed all the preseason games thus far due to a sprained ankle. He and Horford could maintain the double-bigs lineup from last year, just not at the same level it was at with Robert Williams. I could see this being an option if Rob was only going to be out for a few weeks. You could get people used to their normal rotations and swap Rob in for Luke when the time comes. However, with as long of a recovery as Williams has, you might as well adjust the plan to the next best lineup.
What about splitting the difference by putting Grant Williams into the starting lineup? At his height, it wouldn’t exactly be “double big,” but he can play the traditional stretch 4 role allowing Brown and Tatum to stay at the 2 and 3 respectively. Then again, do traditional positions even matter anymore?
You could get even more creative with the starting lineup by inserting Sam Hauser. That might be the last reasonable solution unless you’re a really big Payton Pritchard believer.
Who should be the Celtics 5th starter opening night?
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Ok, your turn. Make your case for the Celtics 5th starter in the comments below.