The last few weeks have been busy for the Boston Celtics. They traded the number one overall pick, draft Jayson Tatum 3rd overall, signed Gordon Hayward to a max contract, and traded Avery Bradley for Marcus Morris. While there’s still a ton of time left in the offseason, the 2017-2018 Boston Celtics roster is coming into place. But one thing that has become apparent is that the Celtics have A TON of small forwards. Can these pieces fit? Let’s investigate the 5 players that share the same position.
Below here is the list of those 5 players that are listed as small forwards with their age (at the end of the year), height, and weight.
Gordon Hayward: 27, 6’8”, 225 lbs. Jae Crowder: 27, 6’6”, 235 lbs.
Marcus Morris: 28, 6’9”, 235 lbs. Jaylen Brown: 21, 6’7”, 225 lbs.
Jayson Tatum: 19, 6’8”, 205 lbs.
So on paper, the Celtics have a problem as they have 5 small forwards all of which will be expecting serious playing time. But if you talk to Celtics head coach Brad Stevens, he would disagree. As you can read here, Stevens went on the record saying that he believes that in the current NBA, you only need three positions. Those positions are the ball-handler, wings, and bigs. So not only does he think these five can play together, it’s the way he wants it. Having dynamic players with multiple abilities, despite being considered similar players. So if these five are still on the roster when the ball tips in October, who plays where?
We already know that two spots in the starting lineup are set with Isaiah Thomas and Al Horford. So who fills out the rest of the starting lineup? I’ll start off by saying this, I do not think that Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum should start for the Celtics. Considering that Tatum is just a rookie and Brown will be in his second year, I just don’t think they are ready. But that doesn’t mean I don’t want them to play. Last year, Brown averaged 17 minutes a game and that should go up this year. If he can average around 24 minutes and Tatum averages what Brown did in his rookie season, then I’ll be very happy. I expect to see Brown as the back up 3 and Tatum as the back up 4 due Tatum’s ability down in the post.
With that out of the way, what positions do Hayward, Crowder, and Morris play? Crowder is the lone returning starter out these 3 and I believe he should stay in the starting lineup. Crowder is truly built for the small forward position as adds the perfect amount of speed and strength. As for Hayward, he should start at the shooting guard. Even though he’s taller than Crowder, he’s faster and a better shooter than Crowder. Putting Hayward at the 2 creates a ton of mismatches for Celtics opponents considering he’ll have at least 3 inches of height against his defenders. At of course leaves Morris to start at the 4. Morris is the perfect stretch 4 in today’s NBA. While he doesn’t bring a lot of rebounding, he can bang down low and hit an occasional 3.
So while the Celtics have a lot of similar players they have an extreme talent upgrade from last year. If Brad Stevens thinks these guys can play together, then I’ll believe him. He’s earned that respect with his results over the years.
Written By: Steven Santoro (SVS_1993)