I don't think I have to make the obvious statement that the "New" Big 3 can't play all 48, every night. No player in the NBA can play every minute of every game. We all know this, which is why depth in multiple positions is such an important factor in building a championship roster. Russell didn't win 11 rings alone. Bird didn't bring 3 titles to Boston without any help. Magic didn't bring the Lakers 5 championships by himself. Jordan didn't win 6 titles in Chicago by himself. Teams win titles. This years Celtics team is deep - very deep, but as we have seen so far in the 2012 preseason, they need work. Our roster & reserves looks pretty awesome on paper, but if that awesomeness doesn't translate onto the court, then it's pretty much a failure. Here I will break down the Celtics key reserves (well, any important player not named Pierce, Rondo, or Garnett) as we head toward the start of a championship journey.
Avery Bradley - '11-'12 Stats - 7.6 PPG, 1.4 APG, 0.7 SPG.
As we witnessed last season, "AB" has emerged into one of the leagues elite perimeter defenders. He took advantage of his time to shine when Allen went down last spring, and he thrived throughout the season. His constant shoulder injuries (and eventually both surgeries) are the reason we await his return to the hardwood. When Bradley returns, its up in the air whether he will reclaim his starting two-guard position, or if he will play backup ball handler off the bench. Which ever it may be, we are sure to see his suffocating defense, freak athleticism, and his quick, sneaky baseline cuts to the basket.
Desperately in need of a potential backup center, the Celtics acquired Darko "Darko Knight" (official Celtics life nickname) Milicic this offseason. Many, many different opinions on Milicic were tossed around when he was signed by the C's. Some optimism because he is a strong, bulky 7 footer, but also a lot of negative talk because of his draft position (2nd overall in 2003, drafted ahead of Wade, Anthony, AND Boshtrich, hello) and how he has been pretty much irrelevant in the league ever since. So far in the 2012 preseason Darko has pulled in many C's fans as he has been an absolute stud. Blocking shots, rebounding, just playing smart basketball on both ends of the floor. I'm not going to say this will definitely be the 'revival' (or birth for that matter) of Milicics' career, but I'm excited to see how this season goes for him.
Courtney Lee - '11-'12 Stats - 11.4 PPG, 1.2 SPG, 1.5 APG.
Courtney Lee might have been the steal of the summer, well for us. He is a young, athletic, extremely quick guard who is a very good defender and finisher around the basket. Acquiring Lee this past summer was a terrific move by Danny, as a ton of Celtics fans and blogs spoke on adding him to our team. With Rondo running the show, adding lee to the wing (along with Bradley & Green) makes us deadly on the break. Lee also is a solid outside shooter, shooting just over 40% from downtown last season with the Rockets. He can create his own offense off the dribble, beat his defender to the basket, and finish with his athleticism. Lee will be huge for us, whether he is a starter or a reserve.
Jared Sullinger - '11-'12 Stats (Ohio State) - 17.5 PPG, 9.2 RPG, 1.1 BPG.
Jared "Sully" Sullinger dropped in the C's lap as the 21st pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. He was a standout college athlete at Ohio State, dominating the boards and putting up big numbers in and around the paint. Sully has also been an impressive standout in his first few games with the Boston Celtics, already getting the starting nod early in the preseason. He has been a monster on the boards and thats just what the Celtics are in need of. The one knock on him, his size. like Big Baby Davis and Brandon Bass, Sully is an undersized big man (according to tb727 every big man in the game today is undersized.) Teammates of Sullinger (the vets) have said that he is a very smart ball player with a high IQ, and it has showed on the court as he is always in position to box out grab the rebound. Sully has a solid offensive game, solid mid range jumper, but one thing he will definitely need to work on is his defense, one of the main things the Celtics are known for. Playing along side KG may help Sullinger and the other young big men on this end of the floor.
Jeff Green - '10-'11 Stats (Thunder/Celtics) - 13.3 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 0.7 SPG.
The guy we controversially traded Perk for.
Green hasn't had the best of luck in Boston. Struggling in his 1st half-season with the C's, missing his 2nd season in Boston with a heart ailment, and eventually being released by the Celtics. This past summer, Ainge resigned Jeff (and took forever doing so) for a contract that some say is a bit too much for a player of his caliber, but I don't think so. Green is an athletic, young wingman capable of playing the 2-4 spots for any team. He knows how to score the ball in a majority of ways, whether its shooting off the dribble, spotting up for a three, or driving to the basket. A few things about his game that could use improvement are his defense and his ability to consistently rebound well. Looking at his size and athleticism, you'd think he is a good rebounder. Not the case. But, Green did say that he is working hard to make his all around game better, focusing on rebounding the ball. Jeff has been impressive so far in the preseason, being the teams 2nd leading scorer with 13.4 PPG. He has shown us a new aggressiveness and he is a lot more assertive when in the court. If he keeps up his play, don't count him out when talking "Most Improved Player" for the 2012 season.
Brandon Bass - '11-'12 Stats - 12.5 PPG, 6.2 RPG, 0.9 BPG.
Last season in Bass' debut with the Celtics, he started as a reserve and ending up being our starting PF (once O'Neal went out [again] and KG slid up to the Center position). Bass had a solid year, not spectacular, putting up 12 points per contest. His automatic mid-range jump shot was the only consistent part of his game, as his rebounding was sub par and his defense wasn't a pretty sight either, being a Stiemsma-like foul machine. So far this preseason, Bass has been solid. The jumper is still pure, but we need to see more from him - obviously the keys being REBOUNDING and DEFENSE. He is an athletic big and he runs the floor well with Rondo, but if our starting PG is getting more rebounds than you consistently, you need to step it up. Bass can take a page from Sully out of the 'How to Box Out' book.
Jason Terry - '11-'12 Stats - 15.1 PPG, 3.6 APG, 1.2 SPG.
Finally. The JET. Former (and maybe future) 6th Man of the Year. Jason Terry was brought in as 'Ray Allens' Replacement' but I don't want to look at the situation that way. Like Allen, Terry is a great shooter from distance, being 4th on the All Time 3pt Leaders list while averaging 38% from deep. The addition of the JET to our bench fills a lot of voids we had in previous seasons. He brings veteran leadership, an immediate scoring threat at any point in the game, and he is a clutch closer. Terry is a guy that can, and is, fitting in perfectly with the Celtics system. He is all about teamwork and helping young the young guys develop their game. (e.g. D. Christmas). Terry will make his presence felt on court in many different ways, as he can be a ball handler or a two-guard, and he isn't afraid of taking the big shot. Terry has made a ton of fans in Boston before he even put on a Celtic jersey with his involvement in the community, and his great personality. The JET is here in Boston, and he is hungry for Banner 18.