Boston Celtics big men say all the right things, but what roles will they assume?
So, we have media day and a practice under our belts. Right now we have to hang our Boston Celtics underwear on some quotes and practice videos from media members. Let me tell you, there are worse things in life.
Tacko Fall poses for a picture on Media Day | Photo: Elise Amendola/AP
The Celtics big men are a bit of a question mark heading into the season. The league today is loaded with amazing guard and wing play, but its still an uphill battle if your bigs are a net loss. Since the C’s have a bit of an unknown in this area, it’ll be something we’ll be following throughout the season.
If you’ve been reading throughout the summer, you have an idea of how I want to see the Celtics rotation to play out. I feel that Enes Kanter gets the first shot at starting minutes. That isn’t because he performed amazing work in the off-season by doing 50 free kid’s basketball camps in 30 states, or that he brought the media cookies at his media day press conference, or that he wants to become a professional wrestler... but because he has the most experience of the bigs, signed a team-friendly deal expecting solid minutes, and because his best skill is the most elite of the group. Kanter is one of the best offensive rebounders in the NBA.
Kanter will be the loudest of the big men which will allow him to become a fan favorite. He’s also not shy to stick up for his teammates which may save Marcus Smart from a technical or two throughout the season. His biggest knock is his individual defense, so it’ll be up to him to stay on the floor. If he takes over the job like he chose his jersey number, the Celtics will be fine.
Enes Kanter is asked if he asked for No. 11 or if he was given it.
A dark horse for starting or important minutes, though, is someone we don’t hear a lot from or about. Daniel Theis. Theis is ready to play a bigger role for this team. He is the longest tenured big man on the Celtics. It is important that Brad Stevens will trust him the most initially. Like Kanter, he is not a great individual defender, but he will be more familiar with the team defense. Theis takes too many fouls and does not have the frame to bang down low, but he is the best stretch-big of the bunch. I’ll keep saying it until he starts to stink in this area - he shot 38.8% from three last year!
Daniel Theis: "I just want to be a big part of this team."
Robert Williams III is hoping to take that year-two leap. He got eased into his NBA career as a rookie. Now he knows the ropes, so it’s possible that he’s ready to prove his worth on the court. He’s an elite shot blocker, solid rebounder, and will run to the rim for some dunks. He’s going to get burn on this team. How much is up to him.
Williams’ biggest hurdle may be his confidence as a young player. That confidence got a boost as former backcourt-mate Al Horford left the team. As Tom Westerholm highlights in a piece for masslive.com, a call from Horford to Williams in the off-season was a sign of “respect” and meant a lot to him. If a five-time All-Star sees something in Williams, then maybe we should take it into consideration.
Al Horford texted Robert Williams when he left the Celtics this summer, telling him he expects the second-year big man to blossom.
Williams is considered an unknown, but no more than Vincent Poirier. All I’ve seen are some highlight videos from his time overseas, some FIBA World Cup clips, and some short videos from practice. At this point I’m an expert. Seriously though, he comes in with a reputation as really good rebounder. He’s not shy at the rim from what I’ve seen either. He can throw it down. He’ll get a shot at some minutes, but it’s anyone’s guess how many. With quotes like this, I’m willing to give him a long look. Sounds like he may be taking a page for Aron Baynes’ playbook.
Poirier: "I like to set screen, for sure. I like to run the court for the layup. I like to do the dirty job.” This man is spectacular.
Last, and hopefully not least, is Tacko Fall. Watching some practice videos from today one thing stood out to me. Kanter and Poirier are gigantic men. Tacko makes them look small. Now, I’m not going to insert a joke here because I think we’ve played out the Tacko is tall talk already and he hasn’t even earned a roster spot. But what I see in those clips is a guy that can play a role in the NBA.
Tacko should not get important minutes for this team. He’s just not ready, but he is worth a roster spot. There is a lot more to playing defense than guarding the post, but it is nearly impossible to get a shot over this guy. He engulfs offensive players in the post. He can take away the paint. Coming in as a raw player he will benefit from NBA coaching. He just needs to continue to be an athlete (he moves better than you’d assume) and learn the fundamentals of the game. Sometimes players will look a little robotic until they don’t have to think about the fundamentals.
After a day of quotes and some practice videos, this is where I stand. Like their other teammates, the bigs are saying the right things and fitting in. The situation will likely be fluid throughout the season. Brad did mention earlier this summer that he could play match-ups. There may not be a clear-cut go-to big, but they all compliment each other so it could work out. I’m looking forward to finding out.