Between Gordon Hayward’s departure and Kemba Walker’s knee injury, Boston’s starting lineup on opening night is going to look a little different than last year’s starting lineup. Brad Stevens will have plenty of options to choose from, so we’ll see more than one different starting lineup next season.
The Celtics first need to figure out who’s going to be starting in place of Hayward. They have Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum at the wings, but who will start beside them? Will Boston go big and start both Daniel Theis and Tristan Thompson? Will second-year Grant Williams get the opportunity to start? Will Aaron Nesmith shock everybody and start game one? Probably not, but this is what Boston should do.
The Celtics should start Grant Williams and Daniel Theis at the four and five to begin the season. I believe Thompson will eventually become the starting center over Theis, but Theis should start to begin the season because of his chemistry with the other starters.
Williams brings a strong defensive presence to the starting lineup. He won’t provide a lot of scoring, but he’ll provide hustle and high-energy plays that will get the team rolling. Plus, Boston doesn’t need to worry about Williams scoring, considering he’ll be playing alongside two 20+ PPG scorers. It’d be better to have more scoring options come off the bench.
Now that we have the 2-5 sorted out, who should be the starting point guard when Kemba is out? Marcus Smart is the safest guess, but he shouldn’t be starting. Smart is more than capable of starting for this team, but he’s best suited to come off the bench. We saw how much the bench struggled last season when Smart had to start. Boston’s bench got stronger, but Smart leads the second unit and is the glue that keeps them together.
The Celtics should be starting Jeff Teague on opening night. The signing made sense when it happened, but now it makes a whole lot more sense. Teague will help the team one way or another, whether in the starting lineup or off the bench, but he’s an experienced starting point guard who can help elevate both Brown and Tatum.
On opening night, the Celtics starting lineup should consist of Jeff Teague, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Grant Williams, and Daniel Theis. By the end of the regular season and heading into the playoffs, Boston’s starting lineup should consist of Kemba Walker, Jaylen Brown, Aaron Nesmith, Jayson Tatum, and Tristan Thompson. Two very different lineups, but both will get the job done.
The first lineup will get the Celtics by throughout the year while Kemba recovers from his injury. The last lineup will be the group that runs over everybody in the playoffs. By the end of the year, Kemba should be back to 100% and Nesmith will have cemented his spot in the rotation. Thompson will have taken the starting job from Theis, and both the Jays will reach a whole new level.
I’m excited for this team to get back on the court in just a few weeks. The team will look a little different from last year, but the goal stays the same. Regardless of who’s in the starting lineup or coming off the bench, the goal is to raise Banner 18 in Boston. Could this be the team that does that?
Photo: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer