In the preseason, RJ Hunter captured the hearts of Celtics nation by hitting a few three pointers and displaying better than expected defense and passing ability. Some hysterical observers hypothesized that he could eventually start for the Celtics this year. But through the team's first three games RJ Hunter has not played a meaningful minute, only seeing the floor in the waning moments of the Celt's opening night blowout of the Sixers. Could that be about to change?
Brad Stevens on R.J. Hunter: "He’s not far from not only getting a chance, but being an impactful guy."— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) November 4, 2015
OK, but with 11 players all in the rotation one way or another so far, it's tough to see how Stevens is going to work him in. Except there's this:
Stevens seemed wistful when asked about Pacers' small-ball. "When we played really well last year we had a lot of similar things going here"— Adam Himmelsbach (@AdamHimmelsbach) November 4, 2015
Brad Stevens is not going to stick with traditional lineups for too long, just because the roster indicates they have NBA-caliber bigs that deserve minutes. Tyler Zeller, David Lee, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, and Amir Johnson have undoubtedly proved that they belong in this league, but through the extremely small three game sample only Amir and Sully have made a solid case that they belong in this Celtics team's rotation.
Small-ball lineups are the most likely outlet for Hunter to get some run, and look for Hunter to make an appearance tonight against a Pacers' team that could put Paul George at the four. And with Avery Bradley nursing a sore hand, there could be minutes for Hunter tonight. But what if Bradley was gone for good?
Hey Bulls - I hate to give them up, but I'll trade you Tyler Zeller and Avery Bradley for Joakim Noah's expiring. Cuts your lux tax by 3m.— Bill Simmons (@BillSimmons) November 4, 2015
Though this proposal is purely hypothetical and not actually going to happen, it's an interesting concept. Putting Noah in the starting lineup next to Lee or Sully or Olynyk would give the Celtics a rim protecting big that would allow Stevens to continue to bring in Amir Johnson and Isaiah Thomas off the bench together. A crunch time lineup of Smart, Thomas, Crowder, Johnson, and Noah would be brutal to score against. And without Avery Bradley, the door would be wide open for Hunter to get serious time at shooting guard.
According to Brad Stevens, Hunter might not need Bill Simmons to take over as GM in order to start finding the court. Let's see what happens with the rotation in Indiana tonight.
Photo Credit Jack Arent/Getty Images
Follow Paul @paulcolahan Paul Colahan 11/04/2015 02:02:00 PM Tweet Edit