NEWPORT, R.I. – Celtics coach Brad Stevens was recently asked about rookie Jayson Tatum and how he was adjusting to playing in the frontcourt.
“I didn’t even know he was playing in the frontcourt,” Stevens said. “If we have to put a number on it, he’ll play anywhere from two (shooting guard) to four (power forward).”
Stevens’ response to the question says a lot about how he views his roster which consists of players whose height ranges from 5-foot-11 (Shane Larkin) to 6-10 (Al Horford and Aron Baynes).
But in looking at those three players who are at the opposite ends of the size spectrum, each of them has the ability to play multiple positions as well.
VIDEOS FROM CAMP
- Horford on Tatum: 'He's as ready as any rookie I've seen'
- Marcus Smart on weight-loss: "I feel amazing"
- Danny Ainge on trading Brooklyn pick: "Owed it to Hayward and Horford"
And if there’s one takeaway from what this Boston Celtics team is steadily morphing into before our eyes, it’s that they want to put players on the floor who can not only impact the game in a multitude of ways but also have the flexibility to play different positions.
Figuring out the best combinations to play that brand of basketball is near the top of the to-do list for the Celtics during training camp which has been held thus far at Salve Regina University.
Playing position-less basketball is not only popular among teams these days, but also plays off the strengths of this Celtics roster which has a few more multi-positional players than we saw last season when they finished with the best record in the East (53-29) and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals before losing in five games to Cleveland.
“If you look at our group now,” Stevens said, “obviously we got a little bit taller when you look at (Gordon) Hayward and (Jayson) Tatum, added to that group that are versatile, kind of swings that can play a bunch of different positions and obviously Marcus Morris when he gets here.”
Even though the talent might be different, the approach to playing the game remains the same for Boston.
“It doesn’t change how we play,” Stevens said. “We play pretty similar, regardless.”
But with a team that’s long on youth and versatility, playing more position-free basketball plays more to the strengths of this roster.
“It fits me perfectly,” said Celtics wing Jaylen Brown.
At 6-7, Brown has played primarily small forward but has shown the ability to defend shooting guards at times, as well as some power forwards.
“Growing up, I never considered myself to have a position; I’m a basketball player,” Brown said. “Like my trainer always said, ‘I train basketball players, not positions.’ That’s exactly what Brad is getting at, to play multiple positions, to guard multiple positions, fly around … that’s what makes us a better team.”