With a deep bench, who plays and for how long?
The Boston Celtics have the deepest bench in the league. The best bench? Perhaps. Depends on how much you value the Warriors aging bench core or the versatile up-and-coming Raptors bench squad. Either way, you measure, it the Celtics are stacked at all positions.
Last season, key bench players brought the team one game away from a finals appearance. Players like Terry Rozier, Marcus Morris, and even Semi Ojeleye gave stellar performances throughout the playoffs. With a healthy team returning, the extended Celtics bench rotation will be forced to sacrifice minutes for the returning starters.
The situation of deep bench poses many questions. First of all, with a deep bench, who plays and for how long? Brad Stevens, the master of managing minutes, will need to weigh consistency against player development.
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Granted, they must play Marcus Smart and Rozier between or even over 23-25 minutes per game. Both players are cornerstones to the Celtics rotation.
Consistency versus development. Do the Celtics, in an effort to develop their young core, play Robert Williams more than Aron Baynes or give Ojeleye equal minutes to Morris? Given a very weak Eastern Conference, they may want to consider playing their young unit more. They can take this risk during the regular season, even at the expense of losing a few more games.
The Celtics also need to answer the question of the unknowns. Daniel Theis seemed to be peaking at the time of his injury. Is he capable of being a modern-day backup NBA center? Did the Celtics find another gem in the overseas signing of Brad Wanamaker? If so, how can he impact Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart’s playing time? If the team brings back Jabari Bird, will he see any meaningful playing time? The questions about a stacked bench continue.
For the time being, the Celtics are in a great position. They are well prepared for injuries like they were last season. But, barring an injury-heavy season, they will be hard pressed to find enough minutes for key bench players. Proven players might not see as much time as they expected and young players might not get enough time to develop.
Having too much talent, on a young team isn’t the worst scenario. But with this talented bench unit comes the issue of how to delegate minutes. In order to open up playing time, they could look to trade some proven talent now for some potential future talent in the form of draft picks. The current bench situation presents a challenge, but at the same time provides an exciting opportunity to see how a healthy bench can gel together.