In a lockout shortened 2011-12 NBA season, the Boston Celtics defied the expectations of most onlookers with an impressive run in the playoffs. After getting past the Atlanta Hawks and Philadelphia 76ers in two tough series, the Celtics' season was ended by Lebron James and the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals. James' team would continue past the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA Finals to be crowned the league's champions.
At that point most expected the Celtics' roster to be disbanded. The big three—Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett—had exceeded expectations during their time representing Boston basketball, but each was well past their prime at this point. Even though it was thought that Allen and Garnett would definitely be off the roster, and Pierce could potentially have been traded, that wasn't the way things ultimately worked out.
The Celtics lost Ray Allen to the Miami Heat, but have worked extensively to retool their roster and set themselves up for another playoff push in the 2012-13 season. On the eve of the new NBA season, I give you the 2012-13 Boston Celtics Roster.
The Returning Starters:
15th season out of Kansas.
Pierce proved to be an important piece of the Celtics during the regular season last year, but faltered somewhat in the playoffs. It's difficult to know if Pierce was severely limited by a knee injury late in the year, or if he is just at the point of his career when his talents are beginning to fade. Pierce has never been the most athletic of players but has continued to be able to get his own shot. A reduced role on a deeper roster could be exactly what he needs to flourish this year.
17th season out of Farragut Academy HS.
Garnett took some time in the off-season to contemplate retirement, before signing a three year deal to return to the Celtics. At 36 years of age, Garnett is too old to carry the team like he did in his prime. However that shouldn't prevent him from clocking quality minutes when the team needs him to and to be a leader for the younger additions to the roster.
Eighth season out of Louisiana State.
Bass was a free agent this off-season after a very impressive first season with the Celtics. As a starter, Bass played a pivotal role in the team's playoff run. The Celtics signed Bass to a two-year deal with a play option for a third season. Despite additions to the backcourt, Bass' role will likely increase this year.
Seventh season out of Kentucky.
After Ray Allen left this off-season, there was no question that Rondo is now the focal point of this team. Rondo has been developing into a leader all throughout his career and is finally expected to rise above his teammates to fill that role. Not only will Rondo be more important off the court, but his elite level of production on the court will be vital to success at both ends of the court.
Third season out of Texas.
Bradley's breakout season last year was marred by a serious shoulder issue that kept him out of off-season workouts. Now that the Celtics have reinforced the depth of the roster, both in the front and back court, Doc Rivers has the flexibility to ease Bradley back into action. Once fully healthy however, Bradley should be the team's starter at shooting guard.
The Previously Injured:
Fifth year out of Georgetown.
Green missed all of last season after having heart surgery. During the team's preseason he has proven to be fully healthy however and should be a key member of the team because he provides athleticism and versatility that was lacking last season. With Green available again, the Celtics will be able to rest Paul Pierce more often without suffering a significant drop off in on-court quality.
11th year out of Maryland.
One of the Celtics' most significant weaknesses last season was their inability to get rebounds consistently. That was largely a result of the team's lack of size and physicality in the paint. While Wilcox is far from a dominant center, and is coming off of a season missed because of heart surgery, he does diversify the back court and improve the team's ability to get rebounds.
The Free Agent Additions:
14th year out of Arizona.
Despite being a leading light for the Dallas Mavericks in recent years, the player nicknamed Jet who has a reputation as being one of the most clutch players in the league, left Dallas to join the Boston Celtics this off-season. Terry is the player who will be primarily responsible for replacing the loss of Ray Allen's scoring, but he won't be replicating his style of play on the court. Terry is a better ball handler than Allen, can play point guard and attacks the basket much better than Allen ever did. Of course, he can't completely replicate Allen's abilities from downtown, but he is an above average shooter from behind the arc.
10th year out of Brazil.
Barbosa was a late arrival to Celtics' camp this off-season after playing last season with the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors. The Brazilian has averaged over 11 points per game in 21 minutes throughout his career. Those totals were about the same last season as he averaged over 12 points per game in 22.5 minutes for the Raptors. Barbosa is another versatile guard who can play both point guard and shooting guard, but he isn't the defensive player that Courtney Lee or Avery Bradley is.
Fifth year out of Western Kentucky.
Courney Lee's signing with the Celtics was seen as somewhat of a coup. Lee is a dynamic presence who can be effective at both ends of the court whether he is playing shooting guard or small forward. Lee's combination of size and athleticism allows him to be an effective player wherever he is lined up on the court. The Celtics' only problem with Lee will be finding him enough minutes amongst their rotation.
Sullinger was expected to be a contender for the first overall pick if he had come out of college in 2011, but because he stayed for his final season at Ohio state that never happened. Instead, Sullinger came out this season after a disappointing finish in the NCAA tournament with a back issue that put teams off drafting him. Because of all that, the celtics were able to select Sullinger late in the first round of the draft. If Sullinger lives up to the hype of 2011, and overcomes his back issues, then the Celtics will have the steal of the draft and a scoring threat at power forward. If not, he could quickly be cut.
Melo hasn't overly impressed during the Celtics' buildup to this season, but he was drafted as a raw athlete who offers the team size in the paint. He likely won't get much playing time as a rookie but will be developed behind Kevin Garnett for the future.
Other Roster Members:
Kris Joseph, Jason Collins, Darko Milicic, Micah Downs, Robert Kurz.
Joseph was a second round pick this year, while Collins and Milicic are the two most likely to contribute this year. Both are big bodied players who provide size in the paint but are limited talents. Milicic is most famous for being the odd man pick in that draft, but in the right situation he has the abilities to potentially contribute.