As you all know by now the Celtics are going deeper into the rebuilding hole after trading Rondo but where does this leave the starting five? Another question is who is moved next with two new forwards coming in who is going to be leavin that crowded front court. The question of who starts at point guard is the most pressing and it has a few different answers that could all happen depending on the level of play out of all of the candidates. So let's take a look at who will more then likely make up the new starting five for the Celtics.
First up is who will be starting at point guard? The top options to me are Nelson, Smart, and Turner who has the ability to play the point position. Starting with Smart yes he was the Celtics first round pick and he was rated very highly coming into the league but I think it is a little to early to hand him the team. Once we get into the last few months of the season he will get his chance to run the team and we will see if he is the guy we can take into the future. Nelson seems like the best choice considering his history of starting in Orlando. The biggest thing that Nelson brings the Celtics though is his shooting ability which is something we have not had at the point in a long time. Finally having a point guard who can hit threes will open up the paint for the bigs and drives from Turner and Green. For this reason Nelson should be the starting point guard for now since Smart will be given a chance to show what he can do. Turner has an outside chance of playing the point if Nelson and Smart struggle. Turner has played the point a few times this year and has some passing skills and would provide matchup problems with his good size. Turner is really the last resort option but he is a good last option to have.
When we look at shooting guard it will still be Bradley starting and probably Turner being the first off of the bench. Bradley has continued to grow offensively and can hopefully put together a healthy season this year. The most interesting thing about Bradley is how his defensive game will mesh with the defensive game of Smart who has shown some great skill on defense this year. With Bradley and Smart smothering opposing guards the Celtics could have one of the best defensive back courts in the NBA. Now the name I didn't mention Marcus Thornton is the player I see as being traded before the season is over. Thornton provides a spark off of the bench with his shooting ability and playoff teams could be searching for just that type of player. The fact that Thornton has an expiring contract makes a deal even more likely since the Celtics will want to get something for him instead of letting him walk.
At the small forward position Green will still be the starter but after him we could see a new name. Green is having the best scoring season of his career averaging almost 20 points per game. Without Rondo most of the offense will now run through Green and hopefully he can handle it better then he did last year. Green has had his name in trade rumors all year but I don't see him moving because while he might never be the number one option we want him to be he is the number two or three option every team wants. If Green is not the focus of the opposing team's defense he can go to work and shows all of the talent we know he has. The new back up will be Jae Crowder who came over in the Rondo trade. Crowder is an effort guy he has a motor that doesn't know how to quit and he will provide a the team with an example of how everyone should play and he could prevent this team from just packing it in some games. Gerald Wallace will likely not see much if any playing time the rest of the season being replaced by Crowder. The team will likely keep trying to move Wallace but his contract will likely make that an almost impossible trade to make.
Moving to power forward we will still see SullI nger potroling the paint and three point line. Sullinger has continued his growth this season and has shown an improved three point shot and is clearly a big part of this team's future. Sully could have Olynyk moving down to power forward behind him on the bench. Olynyk is a seven footer but he is not built like a center and is often out muscled in the paint. Shifting him to power forward allows him to use his quickness to stay with smaller power forwards which seem to be taking over the league. That makes Bass the odd man out. Bass has been in rumors over the past two years and with a contract hit under seven million he is a very movable player. Bass has the ability to spread the floor and could be targeted by contenders and for this reason I see him being traded for some future assets.
Finally to the centers with Olynyk moving to power forward that opens the door for Tyler Zeller to become the full time starter for now. Zeller showed some good offensive touch while playing with Rondo but with Rondo gone he won't get the same opportunities. Zeller is still a developing player but he will be given the chance to show if he is starter material. If he should faulted or his play ends up not being up to par then Branden Wright will become the starter. Wright was a top ten pick in his draft and has continued his development this season. At some point this season Wright will take over as the starter if Zeller is given a shot because he is more skilled right now. So the starting line up in the next few weeks could look like this PG Jameer Nelson SG Avery Bradley SF Jeff Green PF Jared Sullinger C Tyler Zeller. By the end of the season it will likely become PG Marcus Smart SG Avery Bradley SF Jeff Green PF Jared Sullinger and C Branden Wright.
Clearly these lineups are not championship caliber or even playoff noise makers but all is not lost. This team has some moveable pieces like Thornton and Bass. Neither of these players will bring back a star player but with some first round picks thrown in we could be big deadline players. If Olynyk doesn't improve through the year he could also find himself on the block with the additions of true centers Zeller and Wright. The biggest positive is entering free agency the Celtics will be under the salary cap so we should again be big players looking to land a star player. Let me know what you think of my starting five for the Celtics and feel free to comment with your own. As always keep checking back for all of the news and updates on your favorite Boston teams.