The Boston Celtics have one of the best squads in the entire league. They have depth in every position, and Brad Stevens is given the tough job of attempting to figure out the best line-up to put onto the floor each night.
Examining the point guard position, Kyrie Irving is the starter – that is plain – but Terry Rozier has shown the league that he is good enough to be a starting point guard. When it comes to the two, of course you’d have to play Kyrie as the starter, but even when taking him off, Rozier is lethal and can tear the defence apart. The Celtics can also choose to play Brad Wanamaker, who has shown himself to be a quality off-the-bench rotational piece.
At shooting guard Stevens can go for either Jaylen Brown, who is an elite athlete and aggressive for the offence, or Marcus Smart, who is leading the team in steals this season, with 1.8 per game (per ESPN). Both players are capable at being the starter for that position, but who should Stevens choose? He could use Smart as a defensive player to line up with the starters and have Brown come off the bench to give an offensive spark to the rotational players.
Examining the small forwards, Stevens can choose from Jayson Tatum or Gordon Hayward. Both of these players are exceptional and deserve a starting spot within the team and both have often been played on the court at the same time, with one occupying either the power forward role or a shooting guard position.
The Celtics have a mass of power forwards, with Marcus Morris, Daniel Theis, Semi Ojeleye and Guerschon Yabusele. Morris holds the starting power forward role, but there are three capable power forwards behind him who are also able to score points and gather rebounds.
At centre there is Al Horford, Aron Baynes and Robert Williams. Horford is the lead rebounder of the team, with 6.4 rebounds per game, and Williams is leading the team with 1.4 blocks per game (per ESPN).
Therein lies the problem – do the Celtics have too much depth? They’ve got players in every position who can easily be starters. This isn’t the worst problem to have for the Celtics, but players may start becoming disgruntled with their position and think they deserve to start.
Danny Ainge has a number of players he could trade without dropping the team’s quality. The Celtics hold four first-round picks in the 2019 NBA draft, which means the Celtics would have four new rookies to put into their team. This may cause even more of a headache for Brad Stevens when deciding who to put where. Ainge should consider trading one of those four 2019 first-round draft picks, perhaps for a 2020 or 2021 first-round pick of equal value.
The contract situation in Boston also keeps things interesting, with Morris, Rozier, Theis and Wanamaker all in the final year of their contracts. Unless they are re-signed, they will become free agents at the end of the season. Danny Ainge may yet trade these players, especially as Morris and Rozier may desire more money or bigger roles.
One thing is for certain – the Celtics have a stacked group of players, and it’s up to Ainge and Stevens to find the formula for success while they still have this group.