Celtics Lead

What to Expect From Boston’s Reserves

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The Boston Celtics head into the upcoming season with a lineup deeper than the Marianas Trench. With capable starters and backups at every position, those on the lower end of the Beantown totem pole likely won’t get meaningful minutes this year. However, these are still valuable contributors, and if injuries hurt the Celtics again, the reserves may be called into action. What should we expect if the players riding the pine need to step onto the parquet?

Who Are The Reserves?

Brad Wanamaker- Point Guard

Photo courtesy of Charles Krupa/AP Photo

Photo courtesy of Charles Krupa/AP Photo

A new name for many basketball fans, 29 year-old Brad Wanamaker played for Euroleague team Fenerbahce Dogus Istanbul last season, averaging 11.3 points, 3.8 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He shot the ball with mediocre efficiency, recording a 41% field goal rate and a 33% clip from three. Wanamaker was named to the All-Euroleague second team two seasons ago when he had a much more productive year, averaging 16.8 points while shooting 38.6% from downtown. When the season starts, look for him to inherit most of the minutes left after Shane Larkin’s departure.

Jabari Bird, Shooting Guard

Photo courtesy of USA Today

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Boston selected Jabari Bird with the 56th pick in the 2017 draft, and while he earned slivers of playing time with the Celtics, he spent most of the year with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G-League. Bird impressed in Maine, where he averaged 19.3 points, 5.8 assists and 4.1 rebounds. However, the shooting statistics are perplexing. Bird shot a spectacular 63.9% on two-pointers, but only 32.9% from three and just 59.7% at the free throw line. These numbers might keep Bird from breaking into the Celtics’ rotation. Overshadowing Bird’s on-court history are the recent assault allegations the guard has been charged with. This jarring development undoubtedly impacts his playing time and future in the organization. Any predictions surrounding Bird’s career must be placed on hold.

Guerschon Yabusele, Power Forward 

Photo courtesy of Charles Krupa/AP Photo

Photo courtesy of Charles Krupa/AP Photo

The upcoming season will be a big indicator of Yabusele’s long-term value to the Celtics. He was a force in the G-League last season, demonstrating great scoring, rebounding, and shooting ability. However, Yabu failed to make a statement in Summer League. As a mid-first round selection entering his third year, he needs to take a leap. But there may not be enough minutes at the NBA level for Yabusele to prove himself. For the Celtics, Yabusele may have more value as a trade asset than a rotation piece unless he forces the franchise to reconsider. His archetype as a strong, mobile stretch four is coveted in today’s game.

Robert Williams, Center/Power Forward

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Boston snatched rim protector Robert Williams with the 27th selection in this summer’s draft. However, many analysts viewed the big man as a lottery talent. The near 7’6″ wingspan (per nbadraft.net) of Williams helped him become a defensive menace at Texas A&M. Williams averaged 2.5 blocks and a Defensive Box Plus-Minus of +8.3 during his two-year college career. His offensive game needs lots of development, but Williams will not have a high-usage role forced upon him this year.

The true red flag with Robert Williams is his work ethic and character. Concerns regarding his focus may have been the catalyst for his draft night fall. Williams then missed the very first team flight and summer league practice, prompting head shakes and groans from Celtics Nation. The team culture instilled by Brad Stevens should erase these bad habits, but it is up to Robert Williams to motivate himself to change.

Two-Way Contracts: P.J. Dozier and Walt Lemon Jr. 

Photo courtesy of DraftExpress

P.J. Dozier at the University of South Carolina (photo courtesy of DraftExpress)

While neither of these players should receive any playing time at the NBA level, they could make a name for themselves in the G-League. Lemon Jr. is a 26 year-old undrafted point guard who played all of 35 minutes with the New Orleans Pelicans last season. He did average over 22 points and 6 assists per game as a member of the Fort Wayne Mad Ants last season and will start at point guard for the Maine Red Claws. However, Boston does not need Lemon Jr. in the rotation due to their current depth at point guard.

P.J. Dozier is a somewhat more intriguing piece. Undrafted out of South Carolina last year, he signed a two-way contract with the Oklahoma City Thunder and played in the G-League for the affiliate Blue. Dozier was a fairly effective shooter, rebounder and defender at the lower level. At just 21 years old, he could be groomed in Maine before becoming a fringe rotation piece in a couple of years.

What Should We Expect From the Reserves?

Photo Courtesy of the Boston Herald

(photo courtesy of Faith Ninivaggi/Boston Herald)

None of these reserves will likely average more than ten minutes per contest unless significant injuries strike the Celtics. However, a few players could force their way into some playing time. Brad Wanamaker will likely handle third-string guard duties and be used more significantly on Kyrie Irving rest nights. Of the back end, Robert Williams undoubtedly possesses the greatest upside. If he displays the defensive prowess of his college years, Williams could steal time from Daniel Theis or Aron Baynes. Guerschon Yabusele has the most difficult path. He has to rely on a Marcus Morris injury and outplay the young Semi Ojeleye because both fit a mold similar to the Frenchman. Overall, this group may be stuck in a deep rotation, but they have the skills to make an impact when subbed into a contest.

All statistics courtesy of Bleacher Report and Basketball Reference.

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About Ethan Fuller

Hailing from Portsmouth, NH, Ethan is a journalism student at Boston University and writes about the Celtics for TLSM. His chief basketball teams are the Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves. Ethan is also a still-growing ultimate frisbee player.

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