With training camp about to kick off, I'm going to look at the five most important questions that could be answered in camp.
1. How do the rookies look?
In June, the Celtics spent the 13th pick of the draft on power forward Kelly Olynyk and the 53rd pick on center Colton Iverson. Then, in July after Summer League, they signed undrafted PG Phil Pressey and Brazilian center Vitor Faverani.
Before training camp, Iverson agreed to spend the season in Turkey, but the other three rookies will all be at camp. Obviously, after being taken in the lottery, Olynyk will have the highest expectations placed upon him of the group, but both Faverani and (especially) Pressey will look to contribute this season. Pressey will have the opportunity to compete at point guard in Rajon Rondo's absence, while Faverani will bring much-needed size and a fantastic nickname ("El Hombre Indestructible"). Camp will be the first opportunity for coaches to see them in a real NBA setting.
2. Who will emerge as the starters in the frontcourt?
There appears to be plenty of talent in the front court, but the real question is will there be enough size? Olynyk is the only 7-footer on the roster, but he weighs less than 240 pounds, can't really jump, and doesn't have outstanding length. On top of that, he's not known to be a great defender.
Jared Sullinger has the required bulk, but he's also just 6-9. The other bigs face similar problems: Kris Humphries and Brandon Bass lack elite size, while Faverani lacks experience and polish. Faverani is the only center on the roster, but no one expects him to actually compete for a starting gig. The best bets, at least to start the season, are Bass and Humphries. But considering that duo is guaranteed to be a train wreck on defense, it would not be a surprise to see Olynyk and Sullinger take the reins by the end of the season.
3. How does Jared Sullinger look?
Speaking of Sullinger, this question relates to both his physical and mental health. The only reason why he fell to the Celtics during the 2012 draft was because of concerns about his back, and those concerns turned out to be well-founded as Sullinger went down with herniated disks in his back in February and missed the rest of the season. Considering there were already concerns about Sullinger's back's long-term stability, the fact that he was barely able to go half the season can't be a good sign going forward. Still, he steadily improved as the season went on last year, and he is the Celtics' best (and maybe only) low-post option, when healthy.
The concern over his mental health relates to the fact that he was arrested on domestic violence-related charges almost a month ago. In addition to the character concerns that naturally get brought up as a result of an incident like this, the Celtics have to wonder if Sullinger's focus will remain on basketball until this issue is resolved.
4. How does the team react to Brad Stevens?
Although he's famously laid back, Stevens always got the best out of his Butler teams. He emphasized defense and hustle, and it would be reasonable to expect him to attempt to implement those things at the pro level. But with Stevens being only a few years older than his oldest player, Keith Bogans, it will be interesting to see how the Celtics respond to a coach so close to them in age. With Stevens' pedigree, one would think that the Celtics would have little trouble respecting him, but it will be interesting to watch nonetheless.
5. Who will start at point guard to begin the season?
I covered this here, but it's still probably the most intriguing camp storyline. My bet would be on Avery Bradley, at least at first.
Joe Clarkin is a 2013 graduate of the University of Missouri. He grew up in New England and writes, edits and maintains the Boston Celtics blog 17banners.blogspot.com.
- Sports & Recreation
- Kelly Olynyk
- Jared Sullinger
- Phil Pressey