Boston Celtics Camp Battles: Wings
Boston Celtics Training Camp Battles: Wings
BOSTON – Of all the training camp battles the Boston Celtics will have this year, few offer as much intrigue as to what the Celtics will do at the wing position.
At the end of last season, Jae Crowder had worked his way into the starting lineup which is pretty amazing when you consider he was viewed by many as just a throw-in when the Celtics acquired him as part of the Rajon Rondo trade with Dallas.
Crowder showed tremendous growth throughout the season due to his versatility and toughness.
But that's all in the past now.
While his play from a year ago can't be ignored entirely, there are no guarantees he will be with the first unit.
In fact, the competition for minutes will be even more difficult this season due to the additions made by Boston as well as the improvements made by some of the team’s younger players.
Here’s a look at the camp battles that will ensue at the wing position as well as players who will be fighting to make their way into the playing rotation.
Last season (with Dallas and Boston): 7.7 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.1 assists per game.
Summary: He is the incumbent starter at small forward, but Crowder will face a stiff challenge to keep the job. The Celtics have players at the position with more size (Perry Jones III) and more versatility (Evan Turner) in handling the ball. But Crowder provides a level of toughness that the Celtics absolutely need and opponents loathe. Crowder says he has worked on all facets of his game this summer, but for him to secure a spot in the starting lineup he needs to shoot the ball like he did in the playoffs. In four games against Cleveland, Crowder averaged 10.8 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 1.0 steals per game while shooting 51.7 percent from the field.
Last season: 9.5 points, 5.5 assists, 5.1 rebounds per game.
Summary: Turner has had better seasons statistically, but you would be hard-pressed to find a year when he made as significant an impact as he did last season with Boston. Turner displayed the kind of all-around game that finally shifted the conversation on Turner from him not living up to being a No. 2 pick overall, to him actually being a solid NBA player. But his role with the Celtics this season remains very much uncertain. Boston is intent on having Marcus Smart more in the role of playmaker which means Turner’s minutes at the point will be trimmed. He will certainly be in the mix as a possible starter at small forward, but his chances will hinge heavily on whether head coach Brad Stevens will want another ball-handler on the floor with Smart.
Perry Jones III
Last season (in Oklahoma City): 4.3 points, 1.8 rebounds, 0.4 assists per game.
Summary: Jones will get a shot at doing something he has never had in previous training camps – a chance to start. At 6-foot-11 with the skills to handle the ball like a guard, he also has the length to defend multiple positions on the perimeter. Crowder and Turner have an edge having been in the Celtics’ system a year earlier. But with his size and skillset, he will do enough to warrant some time. But only time will tell if Jones’ impact will come as a starter or as a key reserve off the bench.
Last season (in Phoenix and Miami): 1.8 points, 0.5 rebounds, 0.3 assists.
Summary: He saw limited time in both Phoenix and Miami, and is known more for his family name (his brother is Miami Goran Dragic) than his game. A definite shooter, Dragic has struggled to find his touch in the NBA. In 16 games, he has shot just 21.4 percent on 3s and 36.7 percent from the field. And as far as his role with the Celtics, that is very much up in the air. Boston will look to try and trade him but are unlikely to find a team willing to deal for him. If that fails, they will likely waive him.