Offseason Depth Chart: Shooting Guard
BOSTON – July is coming to an end, 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 are one team that will need to make minor changes over the next couple of months. As of July 30, they have 16 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 shooting guards.
|2013-14 Shooting Guards|
|Avery Bradley||3 Years|
|Courtney Lee||5 Years|
|Jordan Crawford||3 Years|
|MarShon Brooks||2 Years|
|Keith Bogans||10 Years|
This depth chart is crowded. Very crowded. The Celtics currently have five shooting guards on the roster. That’s one-fifth of the number of players the team is allowed to carry into Opening Night. The good news for Boston is that this entire fivesome can play.
Avery Bradley, who was selected to the NBA’s All-Defensive Second Team last season, is the incumbent starter. He has started the past 79 games in which he has played, and has started 84 of his past 85 games overall.
The main reason why Bradley has held down the starting spot is because he is an absolute menace at the defensive end. Many players, from his teammates to opponents to coaches, have claimed that he is the best on-ball defender in the NBA.
Advanced statistics do nothing but support that bold claim. According to Synergy Sports, offensive players scored just 0.697 points per possession against Bradley last season. That defense ranked in the 95th percentile of the entire league. Bradley rated out as ‘excellent’ in nearly every defensive category last season.
Bradley was his usual self at the defensive end, but his offense fell off dramatically from the prior season. He finished 2011-12 by shooting 52.2 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from 3-point range after the All-Star break. Those numbers dropped substantially last season, but a full offseason of work is expected to help Bradley return to form.
Two more shooting guards return to the Celtics behind Bradley. Courtney Lee is one of them. He started 39 games last season and shot a career high 46.4 percent from the field. That percentage led all of Boston’s regular guards who appeared in at least 39 games.
Many onlookers were underwhelmed with Lee’s season, but that shouldn’t have been the case. His per-36-minute numbers were right in line with the first four seasons of his career. In fact, his per-36 rebound, assist and steal numbers all increased compared to his prior season in Houston.
Lee is a very valuable player because he can make major contributions at both ends of the court. Jordan Crawford, on the other hand, is known much more for his offense.
Crawford is the third and final returning shooting guard on Boston’s roster. He has averaged at least 17.2 points per 36 minutes in all three of his professional seasons. Crawford averaged 9.1 points per game in 27 contests with the Celtics last season but struggled with his shot, as he made just 41.5 percent of his attempts. Still, though, he’s known as someone who can score in bulk.
The same can be said for MarShon Brooks, who is a newcomer to the C’s. He was acquired from the Nets in the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett deal. After bring drafted by the Celtics in 2011 and then immediately traded to Brooklyn, Brooks went on to average 12.6 points per game and 3.6 rebounds per game as a rookie.
Brooks’ numbers dropped off during his sophomore season but that’s only due to playing behind Joe Johnson. Regardless of that fact, it’s common knowledge that Brooks has great potential at the offensive end.
Brooks spent last season learning some things from teammate Keith Bogans, who also joined the Celtics in the Nets deal. Bogans is a pro’s pro and is known as a leader in the locker room. Brooks has said that Bogans taught him how to be a professional and how to become a better defender.
In Boston, Bogans will have an opportunity to be a leader on a young club while also contributing strong defense and 3-point shooting. That’s the niche he has fit into while starting 333 of his 665 career games.
The Celtics aren’t stacked with All-Stars at shooting guard, but they sure are stacked with talent. The best part of all is that the talent is balanced with scorers, defenders and veterans. Brad Stevens won’t have enough minutes to satisfy all five of these guys, but at least he heads into the season knowing that he has plenty of options.