BOSTON - I asked Celtics Nation to submit questions using the hashtag #CelticsMailbag on Twitter. Now I've answered them... well, most of them.
Let's jump right into it. Here's what you all were wondering as the start of training camp approaches.
ANSWER: I don’t think they need to adjust at all, to be honest. I think Gordon Hayward is the one player out of this trio who’s going to need to figure it out, because he’s never played with these guys – the ones who are now a year older, a year wiser and a year more talented. These three – and many other Celtics – can do so many things on the court. I don’t think they need to adjust. I just think they need time to trust each other and learn each others’ tendencies.
ANSWER: I don’t see this happening. I know Rajon Rondo was named captain while he was playing under Brad Stevens, but in general, Stevens doesn’t believe in captains. He believes in empowering all players to be leaders. He believes in leadership coming from all angles of the locker room. Stevens knows that there are some players – Kyrie Irving and Al Horford, to name two – who will be viewed as the “leaders” of the team, but he also knows that guys like Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris, Aron Baynes, Jaylen Brown and others will hold leadership roles that are just as important in their own ways.
ANSWER: Much like Brad Stevens, I don’t like to set ceilings on players. Jayson Tatum has already blown through the ceiling that anyone set for him last season. But I will speak to what Williams may expect heading into his rookie season. Boston is deep, with three impact bigs (Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis) in front of him and Marcus Morris set to log plenty of minutes at power forward as well. To me, this is a season for Williams to sit back, to learn from his teammates, to develop through practice and the Maine Red Claws, and to capitalize on any opportunities he gets with the Celtics on the court. He will have opportunities to check into games and showcase his promise as a rim protector and high-flying finisher around the rim.
ANSWER: If the Celtics come out of the gates and blow away the East and are on pace to win 60-plus games by the time All-Star reserves are voted on, I honestly think they could get five players into the game. There are maybe 6-8 surefire All-Stars in the East. The rest of the spots are up for grabs. But my money is on four All-Stars.
ANSWER: What’s that I hear? Is that KG in my ear? ANYTHING IS POSSIBLEEEEEEEEE!
Yes, it’s realistic. The Celtics are arguably the second-most talented team in the league, and two of their players have yet to come close to reaching their prime. That means the Celtics can get even better, while the Warriors are already who they are. Boston also is by far the best matchup in the league against Golden State when it comes to matchups across the board.
ANSWER: You’ll surely see him this season at some point, but my prediction is that you’ll see him far less frequently. The Celtics have at least five other primary ball handlers, so that takes away the need for Point Horford. As for Point Baynes? No.
ANSWER: I think it’s conceivable that we could see as many as eight or nine players average between 24-30 minutes per game this season, leaving everyone fresh for the postseason. I think Brad Stevens will start with the Five Leaf Clover (the nickname coined by our Taylor Snow for the Kyrie Irving-Jaylen Brown-Gordon Hayward-Jayson Tatum-Al Horford lineup), and then he’ll rotate lineups the rest of the night that will feature 2-4 of them until they’re all on the court together for crunch time.
ANSWER: (Segue please…) SPEAKING of crunch time, I do foresee Marcus Smart being on the court for a solid chunk of it, but not all of it. It’s hard to keep a player like that – who makes so many winning plays – off the court when a game is hanging in the balance. His crunch-time minutes will be situational, but trust me, he’ll see plenty of them.
ANSWER: First and foremost, Wanamaker should take a look at some of Shane Larkin’s film from last season. Larkin never complained about his playing time, and he always capitalized on it. Wanamaker won’t play the exact same role on this team as Larkin did last season, but he’ll be in a similar situation. He needs to capitalize on his (likely) limited minutes by serving as a spark off the bench who provides staunch defense and great decision-making.
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