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The Boston Celtics may finally be done with their roster construction for the 2017-18 season, at least for now.


I say "for now" because you can never be certain Danny Ainge won't capitalize on a potential move to improve the roster, asset collection, or both - but given the smoldering remains of the free agency period of the Summer of 2017 being what it is, odds are the roster is pretty much set. Building off the above graphic created by ESPN's Chris Forsberg, it makes sense to group these guys together in the three categories coach Brad Stevens uses to determine roles in his pace-and-space offense: ball-handlers, wings, and bigs.


A remarkable aspect of this roster is it's size and flexibility - fully nine players are between 6'4 and 6'9, able to guard up and/or down across several positions, leaving only Al Horford, Aron Baynes, and Ante Zizic as traditionally-sized bigs. What's more, Horford can function as a distributor among the bigs, Marcus Smart can guard up to many fives as a ball-handler, and Gordon Hayward as a ball-handler among the wings. Perhaps most remarkable is almost every player is a threat from deep somewhere on the court - only Baynes and Zizic remain on the roster without a respectable away-from-the-basket game on offense.


Populating the ball-handlers is Isaiah Thomas, Smart, and Terry Rozier. There's a good chance you'll see a lot of early-season (and potentially later) distribution and ballhandling so Thomas can work off-ball, capitalizing on the threats added by all the incoming shooting led by the addition of Hayward. This will also get him time to get into shape, as a summer off even without a potential major surgery will require some time to get into game form for Isaiah.


Smart and Rozier can pick up a lot of the slack, but expect to see much of the load shared with the ball-handling and distributive abilities of Hayward and Horford. You may also see this to a lesser extent with Jaylen Brown and Marcus Morris working as alternative ball-handlers and distributors, the latter of which has actually become a somewhat adept distributor in recent years, averaging 2.25 assists per game over the last two seasons.


The wings are by far the deepest category of the roster, and for good reason - Hayward, Brown, and Morris are joined by Jae Crowder, Jayson Tatum, Abdel Nader and Semi Ojeleye - who can collectively guard almost any player in the league as a team, and most can cover all or nearly all positions defensively for short bursts. They are together capable of both perimeter defense relying and speed and athleticism and aggressive interior defense relying on strength and sheer mass. Every single one of them is a threat from deep.


The bigs have tools last year's roster lacked, with strong and skilled bigs able to bang inside (Baynes) or get their hands on boards with surprising deftness (so long as it doesn't require explosive jumping - Zizic and Guerschon Yabusele). Shooting from bigs is also still a major component in what will continue to be a mainly five-out system, with Horford providing firepower from beyond the arc along with reasonably good shooting coming from Yabusele and newcomer Daniel Theis.


Quite a few lumps had to be taken collectively to get these roster on the same team, but in the end, we may see a team capable of holding its own against firepower like that of the Golden State Warriors as well as capable of withstanding the strong inside-outside attack of teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers as well. The one thing we can say with certainty is Ainge has built a very unique and (hopefully) exciting-to-watch roster out of the husk of last year's team, in spite of at least ten percent of the league shooting themselves in the foot to spite the Celtics' potential successes.

Is it October yet?

For more stories about the offseason on CelticsLife, click here. For more by Justin, click here.



Image: NBA.com
Data: Basketball-reference.com
Follow Justin at @justinquinnn

Justin Quinn 7/16/2017 01:51:00 PM Edit
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