While the Boston Celtics went out and built one of the best starting fives in the NBA this offseason, it didn't come without a price.
Boston gutted its bench.
But the Celtics wasted no time building a brand new supporting cast. With a handful of players set to enter their first season with the Celtics, those who stuck around from last year's squad will surely be expected to take on more minutes as the fresh faces get acclimated.
The opportunity to trade for veteran guard Jrue Holiday was there, and Boston took it.
Yes, it was a move that elevates the Celtics' starting five to next level, but sending reigning NBA Sixth Man of the Year Malcolm Brogdon, big man Robert Williams III and two first-round picks to the Portland Trail Blazers is a bit of a gut punch. It's a move that had to be made if Boston wanted to keep up in an Eastern Conference arms race that saw the Milwaukee Bucks acquire Damian Lillard, but it without a doubt puts a young bench under duress.
Grant Williams joining the Dallas Mavericks via sign-and-trade further hampers the Celtics' frontcourt depth, and shipping Mike Muscala and Danilo Gallinari to Washington could limit how effective Boston is from the perimeter when its starters need a break.
Windows of Opportunity
If you had told someone three months ago that Sam Hauser and Payton Pritchard were going to have to be the ones to carry the Celtics' bench on their backs, they probably wouldn't have believed you.
Oh, how the times change.
Head coach Joe Mazzulla has hinted at Boston's starting lineup being fluid, noting that the team had success utilizing two bigs or playing small ball to open games last season. If Mazzulla does plan to switch things up on a regular basis, there could be instances where Derrick White or Al Horford come off the bench, but Pritchard and Hauser will likely end up as the two most productive constants of the second unit.
Pritchard could end up eating a lot of the minutes that Brogdon left behind, while Hauser will provide a solid scoring option when Brown and Tatum are catching their breaths.
Leaving the bench in the hands of a third-year player in Hauser and a fourth-year player in Pritchard is far from ideal, and it forces that duo to step up, and to do so fast. The other reserves will be there to chip in, but Hauser and Pritchard need to be the ones to set the tone.
Plenty of Unknowns
None of the additions to the Celtics' bench averaged more than seven points per game last season, leaving a lot of questions as to who will shoulder the load offensively outside of options like Pritchard and Hauser.
Players such as Svi Mykhaliuk (6.9 points per game in 2022-23), Oshae Brissett (6.1) and Dalano Banton (4.6) could find themselves taking on bigger roles than they're used to. Jay Scrubb and Neemias Queta will be looking to take advantage of landing two-way contracts with the team, while Wenyen Gabriel and Lamar Stevens, who are both reportedly on Exhibit 9 training camp deals, will provide added depth should they crack the roster.
Then there's the hope that rookie Jordan Walsh builds off his performance in the Summer League, where he averaged 16.0 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 40.7 percent from beyond the arc. Walsh was a second-round pick (38th overall) out of Arkansas.
The bench is a huge question mark for the Celtics, but you certainly won't find anyone upset with how the starting five has come together thanks to those sacrifices.
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