There has been a long history of spectacular Celtics players that have had the honor and responsibility of representing the organization as team captain. The esteemed captaincy list includes legendary point guard Bob Cousy, all-time great Bill Russell, Hall-of-Famer Larry Bird, the brilliant Paul Pierce and many more.
The role of team captain is not just to lead by example on the court and to merely be a vocal personality; a Celtics captain is required to personify the ethos of Boston’s fan-base. Most importantly, to be a captain in this city, you have to be a fierce competitor.
The 2015-2016 season was an anomaly in Boston, it marked the first campaign in which nobody was awarded the role of team captain.
Many fans believe that the lack of a captain last year was due to the stage in which the team was in it's development. After spending one year out of the playoffs, the accelerated rebuild under Brad Stevens has seen a seemingly endless list of players coming in and out of the Celtics rotating door. The team that Stevens wanted was only just starting to truly take shape last year. There was no way to pick a definitive leader that was guaranteed to be a long term Celtic.
Heading into the 2016-2017 season, the majority of last year’s unit has stuck together. Jared Sullinger was allowed to sign with the Toronto Raptors, but with the addition of All-Star caliber center Al Horford and lottery pick Jaylen Brown, the team is heading in an unequivocally positive direction. The foundation is set for the current roster to develop into a contender, so who should be the captain?
There are cases for numerous Celtics players to take on the captaincy role, for a variety of reasons. Below are some of the most likely and logical options.
Newly acquired big man Al Horford is the only player on the current squad who has experience as a team captain in the NBA. The former Florida Gator was captain of the Atlanta Hawks, on both a rotating and full-time basis.
Horford is new to the team but he brings with him a reportedly calming persona, a diverse skill set and a history of winning, including taking his alma mater to back-to-back NCAA titles before entering the league.
Thomas is one of the most self-assured players in league history. He believes in himself and it’s clear to see when he steps onto the court. The ‘little guy’ is an incredibly vocal player who would surely have no problem communicating with his teammates. Even more importantly, he has shown on a fairly consistent basis that he has the ability to make big plays when the team needs him.
From a personality point of view, Thomas seems to be completely enamoured of Boston’s people and vice versa. Selecting the undersized point guard as captain would certainly not be an unpopular choice.
The former Texas Longhorn needs to be considered, as the longest serving current Celtic. Bradley had the opportunity to compete alongside some real winners during deep playoff runs, such as Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. He was able to learn the value of hard work and leadership from his former mentors; those lessons could pay off if he was named as team captain.
Bradley is a less conventional choice as captain, due to his understated personality. If Stevens is looking for a leader that sets an example on the court, he shouldn’t look any further than Avery, who is tenacious on the defensive end and has the ability to make big shots when given the chance.
Crowder has truly proven himself as an NBA player during his time spent in Boston so far. As part of the Rajon Rondo trade to the Mavericks, it was suggested that Crowder was used as an add-on by Dallas, after spending a lot of time on the bench. Through hard work, Crowder was able to impress Stevens early on and has been a regular contributor since.
His ability to adapt, defend almost every position and out-hustle opponents makes him a solid outside choice for the captaincy role.
Smart has impressed many over the last few years with his aggressive, swarming defense. The Texas native is still only 22 and may be seen as a long-term option as captain. It would be a surprise for him to be crowned as the leader now, especially due to his current sixth-man status.
It may be the case that the coaching staff and front office agree to rotate captains. Several organizations have done this effectively in the past, although for many, having an outright long-term leader is seen to be a more productive method.
With training camp just over a week away, it is possible that a player will be appointed sooner rather than later. The team and it's fans may then know who is next to join the prestigious list of Celtics leaders.
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
John Wilcox - Boston Herald
Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
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Josh Coyne 9/19/2016 08:56:00 AM Tweet Edit