Celtics: Projecting Brad Stevens’ Starting Five and Rotation

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Feb 4, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward center Tyler Zeller (44) congratulates forward Jae Crowder (99) after a play during the fourth quarter against the Denver Nuggets at TD Garden. The Boston Celtics won 104-100. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Tyler Zeller, C

A true contender to start, Tyler Zeller is the most natural center on this entire Celtics’ roster. He really started to come into his own after the Celtics acquired him in a trade with the Cavaliers last year.

Zeller averaged 10.2 points and 5.7 rebounds in only 21.1 minutes per game with the Celtics last season. He is not a particularly strong offensive player, nor is an elite NBA rim protector, but Zeller does everything solid across the board. Also, when it comes down to it, he is the best rim protector on this roster.

Zeller has a wide-ranging skill-set that allows him to make an impact on both ends of court. He is also a strong and physical player who will not allow anyone to push him around.

At worst, Zeller will likely be the first big man off of the bench for the Celtics, but I think he is also a true contender to start at center.

Jae Crowder, F

Jae Crowder is another player who the Celtics acquired before the trade deadline last season, and he has a chance to make a huge difference on this team. As I mentioned earlier, Crowder is a starting caliber player on this roster, but his skill-set makes him a valuable bench weapon on this deep team.

Crowder is a rangy and athletic player with great defensive skills. His offensive game is limited, but the Celtics can count on Crowder to defend the best offensive players in the league.

Stevens would be wise to try to pair Crowder and Thomas together. Thomas brings the offensive skills, while Crowder picks stuff up on the defensive end. When it is time to bring Thomas to the court to give the team a spark, the Celtics would likely take out Smart or Bradley and lose something on the defensive end. Putting Crowder in for Turner at this same time would allow them to pick that defense right back up.

Crowder is an extremely talented player who is going to make a difference for this team.

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