Now that we know more, Jordan Mickey needs to be a full-time part of the Boston Celtics rotation.
I agree with the Boston Celtics‘ decision to send Jordan Mickey to play for the Maine Red Claws at the beginning of the season. The Celtics NBA roster was littered with big men, battling it out for minutes, and Brad Stevens trying to figure out exactly what each player could bring to the team.
Now about a quarter of the way through the season, we have a little better understanding of the role everyone will play for the team, and it is clear: The Boston Celtics need to call up Jordan Mickey.
Let’s take a look at what the Celtics currently have on their roster. While still lacking some day-to-day consistency Jared Sullinger, Amir Johnson, and Kelly Olynyk are the players Stevens seems most comfortable getting key minutes at the 4 and 5. Jae Crowder gets some minutes down low when the Celtics try to go small, but for the most part plays the three.
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David Lee brings a veteran presence to the roster and has played fairly well in the minutes he does get and will continue to be valuable as the season wears on. When shooting well, Jonas Jerebko stretches the floor nicely for the Celtics offense and plays tough, however, his inconsistencies have limited his minutes and they should continue to decrease slightly as he slides into the “end of the bench” type of role.
This leaves one odd man out: Tyler Zeller.
Zeller is having his worst season of his four-year career as far as minutes (8.2), rebounds per game (1.7), and points per game (4.5) which is not a good trend for someone who has always been a role player at best. So what does Zeller bring to the roster? Not much besides his 7’0” frame.
He has done well running the pick and roll offense with Isaiah Thomas which doesn’t show up on his stat sheet that much, but that is something that can be replaced.
Right off the bat, Jordan Mickey is an upgrade from what Zeller is producing now on defense and rebounding. The Celtics rank 20th in the league in rebounding and defense (especially being exploited in the paint), and it has been one of the main inconsistencies on the team. Boston is 0-8 when giving up 100+ points, so any added depth to their defense can help becoming more consistent and start to lump together some wins.
Oct 19, 2015; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jordan Mickey (55) dunks the ball against Brooklyn Nets forward Justin Harper (35) during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Mickey may not be big enough (6’8″) to be a dominant force in the paint in the NBA and might struggle against some of the bigger centers in the league, but his wingspan and knack for grabbing rebounds will definitely make him an asset that Stevens will be able to get the most out of. Most importantly, they will be able to bring Mickey in and develop him into a very quality NBA player.
He is putting up very good numbers in the D League and its beginning to feel as if he isn’t gaining much by playing against inferior competition. Mickey has been back and forth between Boston and Portland a few times this year, but it is time to get him in Boston permanently, and start getting him some minutes.
So what to do with Zeller? He has an expiring contract that should help make him a little bit more attractive to some teams in the league. The Celtics shouldn’t expect to get a lot back for him, but a 2nd round pick or another valuable trade piece could be helpful to Danny Ainge. The Celtics didn’t give up much of anything to get Zeller here a few years ago, so there should be no urgency to get anything back for him.
The main reason for letting him go is to make room for Mickey and build for the future, without jeopardizing the present. Mickey deserves a chance to grow on the Celtics, and Zeller would be the obvious casualty of that.