Small Forward Depth Chart: Spot In Starting Lineup Up For Grabs
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With training camp just about underway and the regular season quickly approaching, join celtics.com over the next few days as we take a look at the upcoming season. We'll break down each position, seeing who will probably get the minutes, and who has to prove themselves in camp to work their way into the lineup.
Today we take a look at small forward. This should again be a fun position to keep an eye on as the Celtics boast several young players at small forward. The battle in camp should be between incumbent Jiri Welsch and last year's sixth man Ricky Davis. Welsch is the type of player that does all of the little things needed in order to win, while Davis has the ability to completely take games over. But don't discount the rookie Tony Allen, who Coach Doc Rivers has taken an immediate liking to.
Tale of the Tape: 6-7, 208 lbs, Czech Republic, 3rd Season
2003-04 Stats: 9.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.3 apg, 38.1 3-PT%
Skinny: After coming to the Celtics late in camp last season and beginning the year on the end of the bench, Welsch quickly worked his way into the lineup proving he belonged on the court. He established himself as the Celtics top perimeter defender and one of the team's most reliable deep threats, even with a strained ligament in his thumb. Now healthy, and with a year under his belt, there is no reason why Welsch shouldn't build on last year's performance. He and Davis will start camp on even footing, but it's the little things that Welsch does, like diving on the floor and making the smart pass, that may allow him to stay in the starting lineup.
Questions: Although he had a great season, Welsch seemed to slow as the year went on. He'll need to prove that he can take the beating of playing major minutes for an entire season. He'll also need to show improvement from last season to keep his spot. Davis' ability is unquestioned, so Welsch will have show that he is the future star that some have called him.
Tale of the Tape: 6-7, 195 lbs, Iowa, 7th Season
2003-04 Stats: 14.1 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 2.6 apg, 48.8 FG%
Skinny: Ricky Davis is another guy who will be given every chance to step up and move into the starting lineup during camp. This guy flat out has All-Star ability at both ends of the court, but he'll have to prove he can compete in a team concept. All indications early on are that Davis is ready to do just that. This will be one of the toughest decisions for Rivers during camp. He could let Davis loose and see what he and Paul Pierce can do as a tandem, or he could keep Welsch in the starting lineup and use Davis as a potential Sixth Man of the Year candidate.
Questions: We all know the questions that surround Davis, and he'll have to prove early to Coach Rivers that he can play at a high level in a team concept. If Davis can do this, then the sky's the limit. He could be a huge difference maker for the Celtics this year and beyond.
Tale of the Tape: 6-4, 213 lbs, Oklahoma State, Rookie
2003-04 Stats (College): 16.0 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 3.1 apg, 50.4 FG%
Skinny: Allen is technically more of a shooting guard, but he'll be battling Welsch and Davis for minutes so we put him here. Allen is a superb athlete who is tenacious on defense and can get to the rim on offense with the best of them. He'll have to learn quickly if he wants to beat out Welsch and Davis, but Allen's aggressiveness, which Coach Rivers loves, gives him a leg up on most rookies.
Questions: As we said, Allen can get to the rim with the best of them, but he'll have to prove he can knock down the open jumper. As with most rookies, Allen comes to the league with questions surrounding his outside game. If he proves early on that he can hit the open 15-footer, then he could be one of the surprise rookies of 2004-05.