Roster Breakdown: The Swings
With all the versatility on the Boston Celtics roster, it’s not easy placing positional labels on the players.
That’s not an issue for Brad Stevens, however, as he doesn’t classify his guys with the traditional 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 positional tags. Instead, the Celtics coach sings to his own tune with his own set of hybrid roles to fit the multitalented nature of his athletes.
In the book of Stevens, players generally fall into one of the four following categories:
- Ball handlers – Typically played by the 1.
- Wings – A hybrid between the 2 and the 3.
- Swings – A hybrid between the 3 and the 4.
- Bigs – A hybrid between the 4 and the 5.
Celtics.com has broken down the roster in Stevens-esque fashion to give you fans an idea of what role each player will take on this season. Keep in mind that there are currently 16 players on the roster, meaning at least one of these guys won’t be with us this season, but let’s go ahead and dish out the projected roles anyway.
So far in our roster breakdown series we’ve covered the ball handlers and the wings. Now we’re on to the most versatile role on the floor: the swing position. On offense, a successful swingman should be able to shoot well, drive to the lane and occasionally post up in the paint. Defensively, they must possess lateral quickness and strength so they can smoothly transition from guarding the 3 to the 4. Though the Celtics lack depth at the position, they are fortunate in that their three swings are among the most versatile and athletic members of the team.
Be honest, at this time last year had you heard of Jae Crowder? The only thing most Celtics fans knew about the former Dallas Maverick was that his last name rhymed with one of their beloved New England meals. When he came to Boston last December, he appeared to be a throw-in piece in the Rajon Rondo deal. That was quickly proven to be a false assumption, as he became a fan-favorite at the TD Garden in no time. His tenacity and motor was a major driving force as the C’s pushed for the playoffs last season, primarily coming off the bench as a spirit-boosting workhorse. The 6-foot-6, 25-year-old can provide offense if the team needs a spark, but his true talents lie on the defensive end where he acts like pinball, bouncing around the floor, willing and able to guard any opposing player. A young driven talent like Crowder is not easy to come by, which is why the Celtics locked him up for a long-term deal in July, hoping he can be a significant piece to their pursuit of an 18th championship.
Jonas Jerebko was another mid-season addition for the C’s, who, like Crowder, was an unsuspecting talent who quickly gained the trust of the Boston faithful. The 6-10, sharpshooting Swede provided length at the swing and was deadly from beyond the arc, shooting better than 40 percent from 3-point land. He was also a reliable inside scorer, bucketing 42 of his 70 shots at the rim for the C’s last season. While Jerebko can swing the momentum on offense, he provides hustle and lateral quickness on D. As a result of that prowess at either end of the court, the team benefited significantly when he was on the floor. Of the 14 players that played at least 500 minutes for the C’s last season, his plus-12.7 plus/minus per 100 possessions was by far the best mark on the team, followed by Isaiah Thomas at plus-8.8.
The Celtics added more length to the swingman position this offseason when they acquired 23-year-old Perry Jones from Oklahoma City. Like Jerebko, the forward has a 7-2 wingspan and the ability to go on scoring tears. Unfortunately, during his first three years in the NBA, Jones sat behind Kevin Durant, so he did not have many chances to display those offensive abilities. But when KD was injured early last season, Jones took on a significant scoring role before being sidelined with a knee injury. Now, with no superstars blocking his path to the court, Jones will have a far greater opportunity to establish a significant role as he starts off fresh with the C’s.