Phil Pressey Brings Needed Ballhandling Depth to Celtics Behind Rajon Rondo (Poll)

Phil PresseyWhen Rajon Rondo went down with his season-ending knee injury last season, the Celtics thought they could make it work. Even though there was no true point guard left among the healthy charges, Jason Terry, Avery Bradley, Courtney Lee and Leandro Barbosa believed they could split the ballhandling duties well enough.

They were right, for a while.

Once Barbosa suffered his own knee injury and opponents began keying in on Bradley’s indecision with the ball, the Celtics had all the trouble their critics predicted. It took forever for them to get into their halfcourt offense, hampering their offensive efficiency as a whole.

Eventually, Paul Pierce essentially took over the point guard duties late in the regular season. The result was one of the finest stretches of Pierce’s illustrious career. The downside was that Pierce was left worn out for the playoffs, when he staggered through Boston’s six-game loss to the Knicks.

Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge does not want to get caught in such a predicament again. Even if the Celtics are in all-out rebuilding mode, it would serve them well to have a capable backup playmaker in case anything happens to Rondo — like, say, he gets traded. Phil Pressey was impressive enough in the Orlando summer league to garner a training camp invite and a long, hard look for a contract for the coming season. Pressey has since been signed to a two-year deal.

Pressey is far from a sure thing as an NBA point guard, which is why he is available to the Celtics in the first place. The 5-foot-11 Missouri product was undrafted after leaving school early. Despite leading the Big 12 Conference in assist-to-turnover ratio as a sophomore, he coughed it up 3.5 times per game with the Celtics’ summer league squad. Protecting the basketball is presumably the first thing coach Brad Stevens would work with the 22-year-old on improving.

Considering that point guard is probably the hardest position in the NBA for a young player to break into, would a rookie like Pressey be able to handle the primary backup role behind a four-time All-Star in Rondo? Vote in the poll below.

To kick off the official start of the NBA offseason, NESN.com will ask fans whether they think the Celtics should keep or move on from each player. The following day, we will provide the fans’ verdict. Here is the schedule*:

Thursday, July 11: Avery Bradley (Verdict: Keep him, 88 percent)
Friday, July 12: Brandon Bass (Verdict: Keep him, 59 percent)

Monday, July 15: Rajon Rondo (Verdict: Keep him, 67 percent)
Tuesday, July 16: Courtney Lee (Verdict: Move on, 52 percent)
Wednesday, July 17: Shavlik Randolph (Verdict: Keep him, 60 percent)
Thursday, July 18: Jeff Green (Verdict: Keep him, 92 percent)
Friday, July 19: Gerald Wallace (Verdict: Keep him, 51 percent)

Monday, July 22: Kris Humphries (Verdict: Keep him, 53 percent)
Tuesday, July 23: Keith Bogans (Verdict: Keep him, 62 percent)
Wednesday, July 24: Fab Melo (Verdict: Keep him, 53 percent)
Thursday, July 25: Jared Sullinger (Verdict: Keep him, 98 percent)
Friday, July 26: Kris Joseph

Monday, July 29: MarShon Brooks (Verdict: Keep him, 92 percent)
Tuesday, July 30: Jordan Crawford (Verdict: Draw, 50 percent)
Wednesday, July 31: D.J. White Phil Pressey
Thursday, Aug. 1: Colton Iverson
Friday, Aug 2: Kelly Olynyk

*Subject to change pending any moves

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