2016-17 Roster Breakdown: The Wings
The Boston Celtics begin training camp in less than three weeks, so it’s time we break down the roster and provide an idea of what the team’s depth chart will look like heading into the 2016-17 season.
Coach Brad Stevens divides his team into four positional categories, as follows:
- 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.
There are currently 16 guaranteed contracts on the C’s, meaning Boston must shave its player total by one by the end of the preseason. Regardless, this should give a solid indication of each member’s projected role with the squad.
Yesterday, we kicked off our roster breakdown series with Boston’s ball handlers. Today, we present their backcourt mates – the wings.
Wingers are commonly the top shooters on the floor and are relied upon to take on a heavy scoring load. Defensively, they’ll often be tasked with suppressing elite scorers on opposing teams.
The C’s are loaded with a combination of seasoned talent and high-potential youngsters at the wing and have certainly upgraded the position heading into this season.
There are countless wings in the NBA that are capable of tearing apart opposing defenses, but most of those high-volume scorers have difficulty penetrating past the perimeter against Boston. The C's have Avery Bradley to thank for that.
Bradley, the longest-tenured member of the team, earned the most Defensive Player of the Year votes of any guard in the league last season and was honored with his first All-Defensive First Team nod. Along the way, a number of his All-Star caliber opponents went out of their way to publicly declare him as the top perimeter defender in the NBA.
With all of the focus on Bradley’s defense, his offensive prowess often goes unnoticed. The seven-year guard was the second highest scorer on the team (15.2 points per game) behind Isaiah Thomas last season, and is arguably Boston’s top long-range shooter.
Bradley’s well roundedness is everything a team would want in a wing, and he’s the clear-cut leader of the squad heading into this season.
Boston added more depth at the wing this summer by adding a familiar face to the roster. Gerald Green, who spent his first two seasons (2005-07) with the Celtics, will make his official return to Boston in a few weeks, and he should provide a much-needed scoring boost off the bench.
Green fully embodies what a team needs in a wing from an offensive perspective, as he’s capable of scoring in multiple ways. The 6-foot-7 guard is strong 3-point shooter – he canned 204 triples for Phoenix three seasons ago – so that should aid a Celtics team that struggled in the long ball department last season. And, for those who remember watching Green during his early days in Boston, the 2007 Slam Dunk Champion is fully capable of throwing down a highlight-reel dunk and sparking the offense when the time calls for it.
Bradley supplied most of the scoring for Boston’s wings last season, but he should have plenty of offensive support behind him now that Green is back in green.
Many pundits dubbed R.J. Hunter as Boston’s sharpshooter of the future when it drafted him last summer, but he certainly experienced some growing pains during his rookie season.
The lanky guard shot just 36.7 percent from the field and 30.2 percent from long range last season. However, he showed significant strides during Summer League in July by shooting a 47.2 percent clip from beyond the arc despite playing with an injured right wrist.
If you followed Hunter’s college career, you know he’s capable of hitting big shots and won’t shy away from high-pressure moments, so he will be looking to put his quiet rookie campaign behind him and become a key contributor at the wing this season.
James Young will likely be Hunter’s biggest competition for minutes this season. Young is entering his third season with the C’s and has yet to earn a consistent role with the team, evidenced by his 48 total trips between the NBA and the D-League.
The Celtics were drawn in by Young’s shooting ability and potential when they drafted him in 2014, but like Hunter, he has struggled from beyond the arc, posting a 25.0 percent clip from 3-point range in 60 career games. However, he, too, showed signs of improvement this offseason by making 43.4 percent of his long-range shots during Summer League.
At just 21 years and 25 days old, Young is still the second-youngest player on the team behind 19-year-old rookie Jaylen Brown. His development is still in progress, and he hopes his third season will be the charm that makes his hard work pay off in the form of a more consistent role with the club.