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The $15 challenge: Build your dream Celtics starting five

Choose your players to make your lineup.

Bill Russell At Celtics Practice
Paul Pierce and Bill Russell on the floor together in their Celtics primes? That would be a quite a sight.
Photo by Barry Chin/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

It’s that tantalizing portion of the offseason, where anticipation is building but there’s still quite some time before the action starts.

Even though you know the NBA is near, it feels so far away. The offseason gets repetitive at times and dry at others, and there’s no real way around it. Watching Anthony Edwards go off internationally is cool, but it’s not the same.

With that in mind, here’s a silly little exercise to keep you entertained for at least a few minutes. Feel free to come up with your own point values if that helps (there’s no science to this whatsoever), and feel free to weigh in with your dream starting five in the comments.

Here’s how it works: I’ll assign monetary values to 25 of the greatest Celtics of all-time. I’m basing this off my knowledge of the franchise and Bleacher Report’s list and making sure to include a variety of positions.

This isn’t based on how many championships they’ve won; it’s based on overall skill and potential to win a championship with your chosen starting five. Try to forget the era and focus on the player, if you can. You may view some as plumbers and some as prima donnas, but they can all hoop.

With those 25 players, I’ll assign a monetary amount to each one – $5 for the best, $4 for the next best, etc. You have to then build your own team (well, you don’t have to do anything, but that’s the exercise). When doing so, consider where each player was or is in their Celtics prime. So, Bill Walton would be at the tail end of his career, rather than at the peak of his powers.

Also, consider positions. You wouldn’t want Bob Cousy, Rajon Rondo and Bill Sharman all on your squad. Well, I suppose you could, but it would be a rather small lineup. You can avoid certain monetary amounts as you see fit. For instance, you could go with two 5s, two 2s and a 1.

Hopefully I’ve explained that well enough. You’ve probably done this before, so chances are you get it.

Here we go:

The 5s: Bill Russell, Larry Bird, John Havlicek, Paul Pierce, Kevin McHale

The 4s: Jayson Tatum, Dave Cowens, Kevin Garnett, Bob Cousy, Robert Parish

The 3s: Sam Jones, Jo Jo White, Ray Allen, Cedric Maxwell, Tommy Heinsohn

The 2s: Don Nelson, Nate Archibald, Reggie Lewis, Jaylen Brown, Dennis Johnson

The 1s: Danny Ainge, Rajon Rondo, Bill Sharman, Frank Ramsey, Bill Walton

Greg Stiemsma and Walter McCarty just missed the cut.

If you’re already upset, and arguing with these rankings, that’s a good thing. It’s encouraged. Feel free to bash your computer or throw your phone if that helps, though I don’t recommend it.

Let’s give it a shot. Give me Larry Bird to start. You can’t go wrong with any of those five, but Bird is absolutely electrifying with the ball in his hands and inspires everyone around him to be great. He’s Larry Bird. You get the picture.

Who would mesh well with Bird? How about Kevin Garnett? Those two might get into some spats (imagine Garnett’s spitting and Bird’s zingers side by side in the social media era), but it would be all love. They’re two guys you want to go to war with every night.

Boston Celtics v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images

That’s $9 so far with $6 to spare. How about Tommy Heinsohn? The ultimate Celtic paired with two guys who took what he built and kept it rolling.

I’ll take Jaylen Brown next. With veteran leadership around him, Brown would thrive and learn how to eliminate the weaknesses in his game. You think he’d lose it in the paint with Garnett ready to rip his head off? I don’t think so.

Then I’ll take Rondo – one of the best passers in franchise history. With Rondo and Bird on the floor, the passing is beyond elite. You have shooting with Brown, Bird and Garnett, intangibles with all five guys and rebounding and defending all over. Bird and Heinsohn could switch everything, Garnett would be a wonderful full-time 5 in the modern NBA and Brown would get easy looks with two elite playmakers around him.

Rondo-Brown-Bird-Heinsohn-Garnett, with a shooter, wing, legend, glue guy and big off the bench (say, Eddie House, James Posey, Antoine Walker, Paul Silas and Ed Macauley) would win a title.

Another option here: Danny Ainge-Reggie Lewis-Jayson-Tatum-Cedric Maxwell-Bill Russell. Scoring all over. Height, heart, hustle.

And another: Rajon Rondo-Ray Allen-Paul Pierce-Bill Walton-Bill Russell. That one’s quite good, too.

What do you think? What’s your dream starting five? Let’s hear it in the comments.

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