Examining lineup possibilities, Part 1 (Irving era)

Ken Blaze/USA TODAY Sports

The Celtics had already completed a pretty significant roster overhaul this offseason when I started the lineup possibilities series last month at the Boston Sports Journal. Incredibly, two likely members of that starting lineup (Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder) were shipped off to Cleveland as part of the return for Kyrie Irving, a profound change that rendered my previous lineup analysis largely moot. Selfishly, it also made me very thankful I had only covered two potential groupings in the series thus far.

In any case, the coast seems clear (seriously Danny, no more trades before training camp) to continue with our analysis, and the lineup options for Brad Stevens appear a bit more defined now with Crowder out of the equation. There are still a number of combinations for Stevens to weigh, but the volume of them has been sharply reduced.

Before we go any further, let’s take a look at a few definites we can pencil in as we start to examine the possibilities.

Three spots in the starting lineup are set. I’ll let you guess which, but spoiler alert: they’ve all been All-Stars.

That means we’ve hypothetically still got two spots up for grabs here as we enter training camp. In the backcourt, I’d put Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown as potential starters at shooting guard, while Aron Baynes or Marcus Morris will be battling for minutes besides Al Horford up front. Which direction Stevens will go is not yet clear (although Zach Lowe of ESPN.com reported earlier this month that the Celtics have been leaning towards starting Horford at center). With that in mind, let’s start to break down one of the new options.

The “Smart” lineup?

PG: Kyrie Irving
SG: Marcus Smart
SF: Gordon Hayward
PF: Marcus Morris
C: Al Horford

Potential positives