Enes Kanter was one of the Celtics’ biggest offseason pickups, so why would they bring him off the bench to begin the year?
Brad Stevens on Tuesday indicated that it’s likely he’ll start the season playing with Boston’s second unit. As surprising as this might sound, it’s the best option for the new-look Celtics.
There’s no shortage of scoring in Boston’s starting lineup. Between Kemba Walker, Jayson Tatum, Gordon Hayward and Jaylen Brown, there’s plenty of athletic points to be had. Kanter, who primarily is used on the block, wouldn’t really fit the wing-centric mold of that lineup.
But Kanter’s defensive ability, or lack thereof, adds more reason to toss him in with the second unit. Opposing starting bigs would take advantage of Kanter in a pick-and-roll scheme, so having him come off the bench would prevent him from being targeted in that scenario. He’ll also give the second unit a great scoring punch and provide some much-needed help on the offensive glass.
So, who starts at the five?
Well, there isn’t a clear answer quite yet.
Robert Williams got the nod in Sunday’s preseason opener, but his sophomore debut left plenty to be desired. Yes, it started with an alley-oop, but the Texas A&M product struggled for the remainder of his 10 minutes. He’s coming off a rookie season where he played just 32 games, so these growing pains are to be expected. But the bottom line is he may not be ready to handle starting minutes quite yet.
Vincent Poirier was solid on the defensive end, but the Frenchman has the least amount of NBA experience as any big on the roster. He’ll likely need some time to adapt and continue developing.
That leaves Daniel Theis, who might be the best option at the moment. He returned to practice Tuesday after sitting out Sunday’s win, but at 6-foot-8, his size could present a problem against lineups like the Philadelphia 76ers, among others. Despite this potential issue, he may be Boston’s best bet for the time being.
Time will tell who becomes the regular starter, but this is a fluid situation, and should be for some time.