Since the starting line-up for the Boston Celtics is absolutely stacked with players like Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward, and Al Horford, the bench is often overlooked and underappreciated. In the 2017-18 injury ridden season, the bench had to step up after the loss of Hayward and Irving, and they truly carried Boston in the playoffs. It is time for the Celtics bench players to get the credit they deserve.
A Look at the Depth of the Celtics Roster
Tier One Players
The tier one bench players are the guys that are getting a lot of rotational minutes each game. Sometimes, they may even start to give some players a rest. These are the players that the Celtics could not survive without.
Marcus Smart, who recently signed a 4-year contract extension with Boston, is seen as the sixth man of the Celtics. Smart is Boston, and Boston is Smart. Smart, one of the longer tenured players on the roster, always brings emotion and passion into each game, and can always get the fans amped up. An example of this is found in last seasons game against the Houston Rockets, where Smart single-handedly took over the game. With just a few seconds left, Smart drew two charge calls from James Harden back to back, giving Boston possession of the ball, and eventually the win. Smart’s defense is also unmatched. Players go into Boston terrified of Smart, who is known for stealing the ball in the clutch moments of a game. While his offense lacks, his defense is truly irreplaceable.
Terry Rozier, also known as Scary Terry, truly had a breakout season last year. With Kyrie Irving’s injury, it allowed for Rozier to play a lot more. He stood out as a game changer and was always able to hit a shot when needed. Rozier truly played his best in last seasons playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks. Rozier and Eric Bledsoe had some exchanges about each other in the media, where Rozier called Eric Bledsoe ‘Drew Bledsoe’, and Eric Bledsoe would not acknowledge Rozier’s existence. In the end, Rozier had the last laugh, hitting a buzzer-beater three to put Boston in the lead in the finals seconds of the game.
The Celtics received Marcus Morris in the Avery Bradley trade with the Detroit Pistons before the start of last season. Since the Celtics roster lacked big men, he was a good addition to the team. Morris came off the bench for most of the 2017-18 season but also had a few starting appearances towards the end of the season due to injuries. Every night, Morris played like he had something to prove. He hustles, works hard, and shows emotion. Many fans will recognize Morris after a GIF of him yelling at Tristan Thompson went viral. He has worked his way into becoming a key part of Boston’s roster.
Aron Baynes, who was also received from the Avery Bradley trade, has also been a great addition to the roster. The 6-foot-10 big man from Australia became a key piece in the secondary unit. While not big on scoring, he played his role of the rebounder very well, averaging five rebounds a game.
Tier Two Players
The tier two players are the guys who usually play every game but don’t get that many minutes. They usually go in when the tier one bench players need a break. Although they don’t play that many minutes, they still have a crucial role.
Daniel Theis played his rookie season at the age of 24 last year. Coming from Germany, he had a few years of semi-pro experience under his belt. Every time he got minutes last season, he would do nothing but impress. Averaging 4 rebounds and 5 points each game, he made the most of every minute he got to play in. He has high potential and could turn into a great player in a few years, but with the Celtics loaded roster, it is hard to sacrifice minutes for Theis to grow.
Semi Ojeleye (pronounced “Shemi”), another rookie from last season, is a massive human being. At 6-foot-7, 241 pounds, he is able to body any player in the league – and the Celtics used him for just that. In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Celtics used Ojeleye to defend LeBron James, and he did a pretty good job at it. He takes advantage of every minute he is given. It doesn’t show on the stat sheets, but he works well with the second unit when he gets the chance. Semi is another one of those players who would get more minutes on any other team, but it is just hard in Boston with the loaded roster.
Robert Williams III
Robert Williams, the 27th overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, is an unknown for Boston. The big man from Texas A&M has the potential to be an elite rebounder in the league, but his maturity, or lack thereof, keeps getting in the way. He is unlikely to play too many minutes this season.
Tier Three Players
Often known as “the other guys”, these are the players that don’t play often. They could be on two-way contracts, or just have too much positional competition, they just don’t get to play a lot. They are the ones who usually play during garbage time.
The dancing bear, Yabu, Mr. Thicc…this man has a plethora of nicknames. Going into his sophomore season, it is doubtful he will get a lot of playing time. Weighing an incredible 260 pounds, he was only given about 7 minutes per game last season. He doesn’t add much to the stat sheet, but he is one of those players who could body most NBA players. He is just flat out fun to watch when he gets to play.
Coming off of an incredible summer league performance, Jabari Bird was recently signed to a pro contract. Last season, he was on a two-way contract, so most of his time was spent playing with the Maine Red Claws. Since he is a guard he will be competing for minutes with Irving, Smart, and Rozier, so it is unlikely he will get many minutes.
Brad Wanamaker was signed by the Celtics this offseason. He had been playing professionally overseas prior to his arrival in Boston. The 29-year-old guard will also not play much for the same reasons as Jabari Bird.
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