To be clear, no one in the NBA feels bad for Brad Stevens.
But the Boston Celtics head coach does have some difficult decisions to make.
The Celtics enter the 2018-19 season with an incredibly deep roster that features eight or nine players who could be legitimate NBA starters. Alas, only five players can be on the court at one time.
So, who will Stevens roll out Tuesday night for Boston’s season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers at TD Garden?
The young head coach said recently he could change the starting lineup on a “night-to-night” basis. But here’s our best guess on the opening night starting five, followed by the “second unit” of players who should be heavily involved in the rotation:
G Kyrie Irving
G Jaylen Brown
F Jayson Tatum
F Gordon Hayward
C Al Horford
G Terry Rozier
G Marcus Smart
F Marcus Morris
C Aron Baynes
Those groupings exclude players who saw at least some minutes last season — forwards Semi Ojeleye, Daniel Theis and Guerschon Yabusele — as well as rookie Robert Williams, which is a testament to the strength of this roster.
As it stands now, though, we’re expecting Boston to employ the same starting five it had in the 2017 season opener, which famously saw Hayward suffer a gruesome ankle injury against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
With Hayward back in the fold for 2018-19, the wing position will be fascinating to watch. Tatum looks like a budding superstar and deserves big minutes, and the C’s didn’t sign Hayward to a maximum contract to bring him off the bench. But where does that leave Morris, who finished fourth on the team in scoring last season at 13.6 points per game?
At least in the beginning, things may sort out nicely: Stevens said Monday he plans to limit Hayward’s minutes as he eases back into action.
If everyone stays healthy, though, Stevens will have to do his best high-wire act to effectively dole out minutes on this talented club.
Not that he’s complaining, of course.