Closer by committee has been around the MLB for years. Starting five by committee may be coming to the Celtics in an arena soon, while Kemba Walker (knee) is sidelined for at least the first month of the regular season.
We took a look at a couple of potential starting possibilities (Grant Williams, Jeff Teague) earlier this month, but some wildcard bench options also remain in play in Boston at that spot as we saw in the preseason opener. Javonte Green was the first player to get the nod but nothing appears set in stone for now.
“We’re going to rotate that spot,” Brad Stevens said. “We’re just looking at it to see who makes (our starting core) better and we’ll also look at it to see who we’re playing on that given night. Obviously when Kemba gets back that changes everything.”
So who else could be in the mix for a starting role on any given night as the season begins? Let’s look at the potential options Stevens and his staff are weighing as they try to piece this undermanned rotation together in the coming days.
Defensive versatility: The second-year guard is probably the best defensive wing option among Boston’s healthy fifth starting options at the moment and that’s not exactly a high bar. Romeo Langford will probably surpass him on that front once he gets back on the court but that isn’t expected until February are so. For now, Green has the instincts and size to battle some wings on opponents of varying sizes, which allows the C’s defense some important flexibility in the starting five. It will also spare Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum from chasing a pure shooter around screens, allowing them to preserve energy for offense which they will need.
Athleticism and speed: The way Green played his way onto the roster last year was with his ability to get to the rim in transition and show a difference-maker skill at the NBA level. If Green gets an open lane in the full court or even half court, he can get to the bucket and finish strong. Those scoring and putback chances will be there with proper spacing around him in the starting five at times (i.e. four capable shooters).
Lacks a reliable 3-point shot: It’s the reason he wasn’t looked at as an NBA prospect until recently. He shot 27.3 percent from 3-point range last year (33 total attempts) and that makes him a player that teams can cheap off of to pack the paint and throw other bodies at Brown/Tatum when they are on the court together. Green can try to punish this type of defense by working back cuts to find easy looks but if other members of the starting five (Smart, Theis) aren’t hitting 3s consistently, the spacing in the half court is going to get ugly for Boston in a hurry. Starting Green with someone like Thompson who has next-to-no 3-point range will put a lot of pressure on Boston’s defense to be elite every night to make up for a lack of shooting firepower.
Can’t create his own shot in the half-court: Green can attack in a straight line but he’s not someone who can find a shot for himself in many other situations in the half-court. He’s also not much of a passer/distributor so he’s going to be a net negative on the offensive end a lot of nights unless his 3-point shot is falling. That will add a lot of pressure to other members of the starting five to score consistently since Green can’t be counted on for much at that end.
Versatile guard: He was a point guard by trade at Oregon but we saw already on Tuesday night the type of versatility