As it seems like the last five columns I have published have been about Avery Bradley, I consider myself a soft expert. Not at all, but as one of the great ‘maybes’ for the Celtics entering the NBA season, we must further ponder into how all the pieces will fit together.
Who will start on that fateful day in what will hopefully be December or January? It is tough to say at this point, but I would go with Courtney Lee. The starting lineup come December will not likely include Rondo, Pierce, Bass, and Garnett, as one of them will probably get injured (the place I am living in does not have enough wood to balance the bad omen equilibrium, so crossed fingers will have to do). Nonetheless for now we will have to work under that assumption that they all will be around and starting move forward with the assumption that the last spot will be fought for and filled by the one of the shooting-guards on the roster: Terry, Bradley, Lee, and Christmas.
Dionte is lowest on this totem pole, and thus will more likely be competing for a roster spot than a starting job. Stranger things have happened, but it would take an early trip from Santa (cue Christmas pun laugh track) for the Temple University product to be taken seriously in a discussion about the Boston Celtics starting lineup.
Next up from likely candidates comes Terry, who is played the sixth man role in Dallas, winning sixth man of the year during the 2008-09 season for the Mavericks. He averaged between 31 and 34 mpg over the past five years for Dallas and with normal age depreciation he should clock around 28 to 30 mpg for the C’s. While 6th man is JET’s previous role, it is also where he fits in best, providing the C’s with the 120 volt shock our bench has desperately needs. If inserted into the starting lineup Terry would have to fight for shots and possession, neither of which fit his game. The bench’s need for offense and JET’s need for quality touches should be a symbiotic relationship this season with smiles all around.
Now we must dig into the benefits of Courtney Lee filling in the starting role. Lee’s willingness to take a backseat as a scoring option makes him a better fit for the starting squad. Not that Bradley has a scoring ego at this point in his career, but the extra touches he would receive as a member of the second unit would go a long way in his development as a player. Courtney Lee would space the floor nicely for Rondo, PP, Bass, and KG to work in their respective hot zones. Seems like a good fit.
The hardest case to make is why Avery Bradley shouldn’t start for the Celtics team when he returns from injury. We all saw the vacuum he created when Bradley went down with an injury which allowed Dwayne Wade to begin playing like Dwayne Wade in the ECFs last year. It is tough to argue against the defense he brings, being able to shut down the opposing two guard and limiting the amount of time the opposition has in their half court offense. All of these factors could be huge for the Celtics come playoff time, but in this argument I find one fault.
The injury to Bradley’s shoulders is one that can linger, and it is for this reason I believe Bradley should come off the bench, at least until late March or April. The depth at the two-guard position affords Bradley to pick and choose how and when he contributes after being cleared by the Celtics training staff. Why force him back into the starting unit prematurely and risk the Celtics only selling point moving into the future coupled with Rondo. The Celtics are built for winning this year, but it is important to think about protecting the ‘Rondo-Bradley backcourt of the future’ package. And for that reason, I believe Bradley should spend some more time on the bench this season.