The Boston Celtics are loaded. Last year in the postseason, the Celtics went to an 8-man to 9-man rotation, and the wear-and-tear was noticeable in the end. Now, with the latest free agent additions, the Celtics could go to a deep 10-man rotation.
With the depth, the Celtics can have a lot of fun. For example, could fans see Danilo Gallinari play a small-ball center? There’s defensive liability there, but surround him with high-end defensive players and length, it could be lethal.
Point is, the Celtics have options, including options for the starting lineup. Let’s explore the essential question: what if the Celtics changed the starting lineup? We’ll explore a variety of options that we could see this season, and they’re all super fun.
The shooting lineup
During Game 2 against Brooklyn, head coach Ime Udoka inserted a lineup that didn’t have much experience playing together — certainly, a risky move.
The lineup consisted of Payton Pritchard, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford, and Grant Williams. There was tons of shooting on the floor. The Celtics forced the Nets to spread out just because shooters were everywhere.
This season, we could see Malcolm Brogdon replace Pritchard in that lineup. He’s a 37.6 percent career 3-point shooter. Furthermore, Brogdon’s playmaking skills will raise the knockdown potential of the other starters.
The bench would be thin with shooters, but Gallinari has converted on at least 40 percent of his 3-pointers in three of the past four years. Sam Hauser could receive some time off the bench with this starting lineup in place. He’s a big, shooting-minded wing that would provide some of that, especially if Derrick White struggles from deep as he did last season. And with Robert Williams’s injury history, we could certainly see this lineup make some appearances.
Point guard Marcus Smart lineup
Notice something with that last lineup? Marcus Smart is not a starter. But, with this lineup, Smart is there and the lineup is centered around the playmaking ability he flashed late last season.
Smart was good all-around last season, so Udoka will likely go back to Smart as the starting point guard. In order for Smart to thrive, Tatum and Brown also need to continue developing as passers and playmakers.
Grant Williams and Robert Williams III would hold down the frontcourt. Smart and Grant Williams flashed a solid 2-man game due to Grant’s high-end 3-point talent. Smart also showed an elite pick-and-roll lob connection with Robert Williams.
Marcus Smart with the half-court lob to Robert Williams III ✈️pic.twitter.com/Tgfm8eFG6W— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) March 17, 2022
The Smart and Brogdon pairing
Smart and Brogdon make some sense together. Smart can act as the on-ball point guard and Brogdon can play the 2-guard thanks to his off-ball talent and movement. Defensively, both can guard multiple positions. Having length and size at both guard positions will be important and lethal on both ends of the court.
Both will need to sacrifice and change their styles, however, for this to work. Smart has another similar-minded player next to him. With Brogdon in town, will Smart get the love he got last season? Probably not. For Brogdon, he won’t have the ball in his hands as much. With the Pacers, he ran a ton of pick-and-rolls. That won’t happen anymore.
On the bright side, both have stated their desire to win and their desire to be in Boston. It could be special.
Tatum and Brown are the constants
The one thing that’s always consistent with the starting lineup is this: Tatum and Brown will always be in it. They’re the centerpieces of the franchise, and they’re both top-25 players in the league.
They’re high-end starters, so both Tatum and Brown will keep their place in the starting lineup. With those two on the court, the Celtics are dangerous and they will remain a top-3 seed in the Eastern Conference. Surround them with any three other players, and Tatum and Brown will find a way.