The Celtics have a deep team this season and because of that, there are going to be some battles for playing time and for starting and back up positions. The Celtics are a close bunch and have developed great chemistry already, but that won't stop them from competing hard to win playing time. Larry Bird used to credit Greg Kite for making them a championship team because Kite pushed them as hard as he could in practice. The same could be said for players on this team who will be pushing each other as hard as they can to make each other better and to earn more playing time.
We know that Rondo will be the starting point guard, but there has to be a back up. There are 2 players who are competing for that honor as well as for the final spot on the roster. Dionte Christmas and Jamar Smith will be working hard and pushing each other for the chance to back up Rondo and to earn that last spot. And in the meantime, they are also pushing the other guards on the team as well.
Once Avery Bradley is cleared to play, there will be even more competition at the guard spot. Courtney Lee will more than likely be starting until Avery Bradley can make his way back from the injury. But once Avery is cleared to play, there will be a fierce battle for the starting shooting guard spot. Courtney will have established himself by then and Avery will come on hard to try to show that he can earn the starting spot back. Throw in Jason Terry who will also be competing for playing time and pushing the others, just because he is that competitive.
The competition is not just at the guard spot either. The most intriguing positional battle may just play out at power forward where Jared Sullinger has come on strong in both of the games so far. He is going to push Brandon Bass for that starting power forward spot. And after the starter is decided they will compete for playing time. Then, we can throw in Chris Wilcox, who was impressive before his heart surgery cut short his season last year. Chris will compete for back up minutes at both the power forward and center spot. Bass was the starter last season, but Sully is going to push him to to have to be his very best to stay there.
And then, there is the center spot. We know that KG will more than likely be the starting center but Doc will need to limit his minutes to try to keep him fresh for the playoffs and that leaves a lot of back up minutes for the Celtics' other centers. Darko, Melo, Wilcox and Collins will all be pushing each other for those back up minutes. Each brings something different to the mix, but Darko so far appears to be the frontrunner for the position. But he's going to have to push and consistently work in order to stay there because there are others right behind him pushing him for those minutes.
And, it would seem that Paul Pierce will be the starting small forward, but Jeff Green is going to be pushing him in practice to be the best he can be or Jeff may just earn his way into the starting lineup. And there is Kris Joseph in the mix who can push them both because he's trying to earn a spot on the roster and he has to play his very best to get there.
The Celtics depth not only will help them in case of injuries, it will make them a better team because of the battles for the starting spots as well as for playing time and spots in the rotation. Doc is like a kid in a candy store with all the options he has for every position and he's going to experiment with different lineups and allow the competition to decide who gets the playing time. It's going to be a very exciting season as all this plays out.
The Christmas/Smith push is for the last roster spot. I'm afraid neither is much of a backup point guard.
Initially at least I don't think Sully will start, play with Garnett for 20 of Kevin's 28 minutes perhaps, but maybe not the first stint.
If Darko's effort level remains high, I think the "battle" for backup center has been decided. Wilcox may push into the fray against teams with two mobile big men but Doc prefers to force opponents to adjust rather than letting them dictate matchups.
If Doc sits Paul or Kevin for one of back-to-backs, then the Celtics will run 12 or even 13 deep with regularity. These push battles are important for quality practices, but it is the depth that will be telling over six months.