Offseason Depth Chart: Power Forward
BOSTON – July has come and gone, and that means most NBA rosters are shaping up for training camp in late-September. Some changes will occur between now and then, but by and large, the league’s roster landscape is set.
The Boston Celtics may need to make minor changes over the next couple of months. As of August 1, they have 15 players under contract and one unsigned draft pick. Teams are not allowed to have more than 15 players under contract once the week of Opening Night arrives.
With all of this in mind, we’re taking a week-long look at the Celtics’ current depth at each position. Today, we examine the team’s power forwards.
|2013-14 Small Forwards|
|Brandon Bass||8 Years|
|Kris Humphries||9 Years|
|Jared Sullinger||1 Year|
Power forward is one of two positions in which the Celtics are heavily equipped. We've already covered the fact that they have five shooting guards, and now it’s time to discuss the four power forwards under contract for next season.
This position is arguably Boston’s deepest. Two players, Brandon Bass and Kris Humphries, have proven to be big contributors when given ample playing time. Jared Sullinger has shown the same, though he has only participated in 45 games in his career. We also got a glimpse of what Kelly Olynyk can bring to the table during his summer league games.
Bass is the incumbent starter of the group. He has started 80 percent of the games that he has played in a Celtics uniform. The C’s have opted to start Bass for a few reasons, highlighted by his impressive jump shot.
Bass is the prototypical “stretch four.” He stretches defenses with his excellent mid-range game. Defending pick-and-rolls between Bass and the speedy Rajon Rondo is a nightmare for opponents.
On top of his shooting abilities, Bass is also a strong rebounder and defender. Bass has pulled in at least 5.2 rebounds per game in each of the past three seasons despite averaging only 28.2 minutes of action over that time. He has also proven to be a valuable asset on defense thanks to his foot speed. Bass’ quick feet allow him to defend athletic scorers like LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in addition to the more typical power forward.
While Bass is the most experienced Celtics starter, he’ll have plenty of competition for that role. Humphries is one of the guys who could give Bass a run for his money.
Humphries has established himself as a big-time contributor in this league when he’s given big minutes. As a key member of the Nets, Humphries averaged a double-double in both 2010-11 and 2011-12. The Celtics haven’t had a guy do that in scoring and rebounding since Al Jefferson in 2006-07. Humphries was actually 10th in the entire league in double-doubles during the 2011-12 season.
Brooklyn decided to go in a different direction at power forward last season, which relegated Humphries to the bench. However, that doesn’t mean that the guy can’t play anymore. He’s only 28 years old, is one of the best rebounders in the league, and he’s capable of putting the ball through the basket when given the opportunity.
That description sounds a lot like Jared Sullinger, who will also compete for the starting job. The difference is that Sullinger has only shown promise for 45 games, while Humphries has done so for several seasons.
Sullinger was on the rise before he went down with a season-ending back injury in January. He grabbed at least nine rebounds in seven of his final 14 games of the season and actually started the final two games of that stretch. Additionally, the rookie showcased the ability to be a strong offensive player. According to NBA.com/stats, he made 54.3 percent of his shots in the lower painted area and he shot better than the league average in six of the eight mid-range quadrants.
That’s what Sullinger brought to the table as an injured rookie. We can only assume that he’ll come back even better this season now that his lower back problems have been alleviated via surgery.
Rounding out Boston’s list of power forwards is Olynyk. Celtics fans would also love to make the assumption that Olynyk will be a great addition. Boston traded for him at the 13th overall pick and he shined during his five games at the Orlando Pro Summer League. He finished fourth in the league in scoring (18.0 PPG) and fifth in the league in rebounding (7.8 RPG).
Olynyk showcased a slew of skills during summer league play. He can score from literally anywhere on the court, including from behind the 3-point arc. There’s no doubt that he’ll garner some playing time this season, and the hope is that he will deliver a similar level of efficiency when the games count as he did in summer league.
Brad Stevens is going to be forced to make some difficult decisions with his power forward rotation. With two proven vets (Bass and Humphries) and two talented youngsters (Sullinger and Olynyk), power forward may be the Celtics’ deepest position.