BWA: A Second Unit to be Reckoned With
BOSTON – They’re highly-skilled. They’re selfless. And most of all, they’re as tough as nails.
They are: Bench With Attitude.
Veteran forward Marcus Morris coined the BWA nickname Monday at Celtics Media Day in reference to himself and his fellow bold, Boston benchmen. During the short period of time between then and now, the moniker has spread like wildfire across Celtics Nation.
“They’re selling T-shirts, man. I need a couple dollars off that,” Morris quipped with a smile while addressing reporters Wednesday evening after completing Day 2 of training camp.
With all jokes aside, the Celtics' second unit could be downright scary this season, should the team go with the same starting five as it did on Opening Night last year. As for the nickname that Morris conceived, it perfectly suits what fans should expect out of Boston’s reserves all season long.
With seasoned vets like Morris and Aron Baynes, scrappy guards like Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart, striving youngsters like Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele, and promising rookies like Brad Wanamaker and Robert Williams, the Celtics bench unit has all the makings of being a force to be reckoned with.
“We definitely got a lot of guys that can start in this league,” said Morris. “And for opposing teams, if they’re not ready, it could get real ugly. And that’s the approach we’re taking – when we get out there, we’re going to try to separate ourselves every time.”
In order to create separation, a team must have a proper balance of offensive firepower and defensive toughness. This Celtics’ second unit has both.
Three of the aforementioned players – Morris, Rozier and Smart – averaged double figures in scoring last season, so they should all be able to help maintain or spark the offense whenever they enter a game.
As for the defensive side of things, that’s where this group should shine the brightest.
In the middle, there could potentially be the fearless Baynes, who started 67 games last season at center and earned the top individual defensive rating in the NBA among all players who played at least half of the season.
Joining Baynes in the frontcourt could be Morris – one of the toughest, most versatile defenders around, and Theis – a rising sophomore who can block shots and battle on the boards.
And then, there’s the backcourt bulldogs – Rozier and Smart – two tenacious guards who will put their bodies on the line night-in and night-out for the betterment of the team.
“I think we probably have the toughest team, the toughest bench, the toughest coach,” said Smart. “I definitely got a lot of attitude. I know Morris got a lot of attitude. And I know other guys on this team got a lot of attitude. So, I’m rockin’ with (BWA).”
Now, just imagine having to face BWA after dealing with a potential starting lineup of Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, Kyrie Irving and Jayson Tatum. The talent is spread so evenly across the board, from starters to reserves, that it’s almost like facing a starting 10.
“Once our second unit comes in, I don’t care who they’ve got on their team, there’s no second unit that’s better than ours,” claimed Morris.
To have such talent within a second unit, players must be willing to make sacrifices. Like Morris mentioned earlier, many of these guys are skilled enough to be NBA starters – and many of them have been in the past.
With that being said, they’ve all expressed willingness to come off the bench as long as it raises the chances of them reaching their ultimate goal of a championship.
“For a team to be great, you’ve gotta make sacrifices,” said Smart. “You’ve gotta put your egos aside, because we’re trying to play for something greater than ourselves. So, when you’ve got a group of guys that come together and connect on this level, things go easier for us. It’s not that hard. Everybody here just wants to play and help our team, so starting or not, it doesn’t matter.”
What does matter is that each player does his part to help push the Celtics farther down the path toward Banner 18. Boston’s bench plans to play a major role in accomplishing that feat – and they will do so with attitude.