Potential impact players for the Boston Celtics
Potential impact players for the Boston Celtics
BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are nearing the end of the cut-and-paste portion of their roster re-shuffling this offseason.
Among the newbies to the team is 10-year veteran David Lee who comes aboard from Golden State when the Celtics acquired him in exchange for Gerald Wallace and Chris Babb.
Like most players with a new set of teammates, Lee’s optimism is about as high as it’s going to be about the team’s chances at success.
Lee even went so far as to draw some comparisons between his old, championship-caliber crew in Golden State with his new batch of teammates in Boston.
Boston isn’t on Golden State’s level talent-wise in large part because they don’t have Stephen Curry or a Stephen Curry-like clone (I love R.J. Hunter but I need to see what he can do against NBA talent and not just summer league ballers).
As much as folks praise Curry for being such an effective, high impact player, people forget that before he became an all-star or league MVP he was a fragile shooter with legs that were skinny as a couple of twigs – and ankles deemed just as durable.
But Curry got stronger both mentally and physically, developing into a really good great all-around player as he got more and more opportunities to play.
Who will be that guy for the Boston Celtics?
Here we’ll take a look at five players currently on the Celtics roster who, with an increased opportunity to play this upcoming season, could emerge and have a similar impact on Boston as Lee’s ex-teammate had on the NBA champion Golden State Warriors.
Of the players Boston has drafted currently on the roster, none were selected as early as Smart who was the sixth overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. At 6-foot-4, 225 pounds, Smart has great size to play both guard positions. But the progress he made near the end of last season and seemingly this summer, shows the promise he presents as a point guard in this league. And with his strength and ability to defend both backcourt spots as well as some wing players, the potential for Smart to be a major difference-maker in the near future is apparent. The dislocated finger injuries he suffered during the Las Vegas Summer League only reinforce the concerns that Smart can’t stay healthy enough to ever reach his full potential. Most of his injuries have been of the knick-knack variety, the kind that slow down progress rather than raise fears of being career-ending. That’s why this season is so important for to continue developing his all-around game and manage to stay healthy enough to do so over the course of a full season.
Perry Jones III
Considering the Celtics gave up next to nothing in acquiring Jones from Oklahoma City, this is one of the better high-reward, low-risk moves the Celtics have made in recent years. A 6-foot-11, 236-pound frame with decent ball-handling skills and a solid face-up game, it would take someone as talented as ex-league MVP and perennial all-star Kevin Durant to keep a player with Jones’ physical skills from getting more of a chance to play. Boston doesn’t have a true small forward to speak of on its roster so Jones will get every chance to display the skills that had him ranked among the top 10 players in high school and regarded as a lottery pick (top-14) right up until the eve of the 2012 NBA draft before falling all the way down to Oklahoma City at No. 28.
“That could be the steal of the offseason,” one NBA scout told CSNNE.com recently. “If he can ever come close to being the player so many of us saw in high school and at times in college, Boston has a franchise-caliber player.”
The lovefest Celtics fans had with Jared Sullinger after he was drafted and for the majority of his first three seasons in the league, isn’t what it used to be. Concerns about his weight and overall level of conditioning – concerns both Sullinger and the Celtics organization have made clear on multiple occasions – has some wondering if it’s time to ship him out and move on. This is the thing about Sullinger that tends to be forgotten. While surgery and injuries took significant chunks out of two of his three NBA seasons, he has been an effective player (11.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1.6 assists in 25.4 minutes per game) when he has played. And if he has made the kind of progress in his conditioning – that should be the bigger concern, not his weight – that both he and the Celtics are optimistic about, that will make Sullinger a much more impactful player this season because he would be able to display those great instincts for rebounds and soft touch around the basket more often and more consistently. And that will make his health/conditioning issues a thing of the past and allow fans to once again fall in love with the big fella’s game.
The shock of Boston selecting him with the 16th overall pick in last June’s NBA draft has worn off courtesy of some strong summer league play in Salt Lake City and later Las Vegas. Rozier was at his best during the latter stages of games, showing a late-game swagger that not only did fans needed to see - but so did Rozier. Making the adjustment to the NBA is more than just a pace-of-the-game thing. Part of it involves players developing the kind of confidence needed to not just compete, but at times stand out and lead teams to victory. Rozier has that confidence, that quiet swagger to his game. And while there is no question the 6-foot-1 guard has plenty of work to do in terms of becoming a better player, he showed tremendous growth this summer in terms of running a team and impacting a game to where you get the sense that it’s just a matter of when – not if – he’ll be standing out for all the right reasons.
Every draft class has one or two players who slip into the second round that quickly remind teams how those clubs totally missed the boat in not selecting them among the first 30 picks. The Celtics have a player with that kind of upside in Jordan Mickey. Selected with the 33rd overall pick in the second round of June’s draft, Mickey told CSNNE.com on more than one occasion this summer he feels like he should have been a first-round pick. The Celtics felt the same way which is why they signed him to a four-year, $5 million deal (the last two years are team options) that’s comparable to what a late first-round pick would make. And to Mickey’s credit, he went out this summer and proved he deserved first round money by either holding his own or outperforming players selected ahead of him. He was the only player on Boston’s two summer league rosters to start in every single game. He led the nation in blocked shots at LSU last season, so to see him stand out defensively was not a surprise. But Mickey’s face-the-basket game was much better than expected and he proved he could defend not only his man but also provide good support as a help-side defender. Of course with Mickey being a second round pick, he’ll draw some comparisons to Golden State’s Draymond Green who signed a five-year, $85 million contract earlier this month after being a second round pick in 2012. Green and Mickey have very different games, but the potential for Mickey to have a Green-like impact for the Celtics, is definitely there.