BOSTON — Traditionally, a basketball team’s starting five consists of five defined positions.
But the Boston Celtics aren’t exactly your traditional basketball team.
Lacking a true star player, the Celtics are an intriguing mix of adaptable big men and versatile backcourt players who each can fill a variety of roles.
Leading the charge of Boston’s group of hybrids is Evan Turner. The 27-year-old is listed ambiguously as a “guard-forward” on the Celtics’ official roster and lived up to that billing this preseason, doing everything from running the point to spotting up on the wing to taking the ball down low.
Head coach Brad Stevens said he plans to make full use of Turner’s many roles this season.
“Evan will play all three positions,” Stevens said before Wednesday’s season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers. “I told him (Tuesday), he’s a guy that I have so much faith in at the one, two or three, offensively and defensively.
“One of the things that gives me such faith is that he has such a passion for the game that I always know he’s engaged. I always know he’s going to bring everything he has. I think he gives us some versatility off the bench, and I’m interested to see how that looks.”
Turner played the role of swingman in Wednesday’s 112-95 win over the Philadelphia 76ers, with Marcus Smart and Isaiah Thomas handling primary ballhandling duties. He took a backseat offensively, finishing with just six points and two assists, but led the team with plus-23 plus-minus rating.
So is Turner on board with being asked to do different things each night? In short: Yes.
“Brad’s a smart dude, and it’s the truth at the end of the day,” Turner joked before Wednesday’s game when told about Stevens’ comments about him. “That’s probably why he got this job, because he recognizes something like that. That’s probably the best thing he’s ever said, so mark it.”
Thumbnail photo via Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports Images
Thumbnail photo via Boston Celtics guard Evan Turner (11) during second half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.