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The 5-spot is the center of concern for Boston Celtics

I have few worries concerning the point guard slot for the Celtics this coming season. Newly-acquired Kemba Walker is a proven star at the position, and I have total faith in Marcus Smart to play that role. And I would be surprised if we didn't see rookie Carsen Edwards pick up some minutes at the point.

How about wings? We have plenty of those - Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Daniel Theis, rookie Grant Williams and Smart in specific circumstances. The wing lineup should project somewhere between solid-and-terrific.

We know the players Boston has at the center position. What we don't know is how they project in Brad Stevens offensive and defensive schemes. None of the Celtics centers have Al Horford's package of 3-point shooting, defense, passing and overall versatility. If we watched highlight reels of Vincent Poirier, Enes Kanter and Rob Williams, we would see scores on lobs, dunks and put-backs - with an occasional block on opponents' shot attempts.

No one from that center trio could be labeled as a defensive whiz, assist-artist or dead-eye shot from deep. We know Kanter will score in close and rebound. We know the same about Rob Williams, but with the added attraction of his shot blocking. Poirier remains the major question mark. He could either turn out to be a major flop or a significant contributor once he gets the hang of the NBA game.


There are two other possibilities at the center spot. One is Daniel Theis. In his two seasons with Boston, Daniel has - in limited minutes - shown himself to have the versatility Stevens looks for. He can rebound, battle down low, defend the perimeter and hit the long ball. He has struggled a bit against the bruising big men but he can work on that part of his game. He has done well this summer in World Cup exhibitions. He could work well as an occasional small-ball five, but improvement over the course of the season could see him in the starting lineup.

Rookie Grant Williams lacks the length of traditional centers, but in occasional contests, he might fill in at the 5-spot. One thing is for sure. Brad Stevens can no longer be reticent about experimenting with various combinations. He should take a page from Don Nelson's book on innovative lineups. And please don't pass out at the idea of 6'4" Marcus Smart filling in at the center spot briefly on occasion. A physically-strong, low-center-of-gravity, good-wingspan (6'9.25") guard would work at times. Preposterous you think? I think not.

Follow Tom at @CelticsSentinel and @CausewayStreet

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