Pros and Cons of Boston Celtics Pairing Kelly Olynyk and Jared Sullinger

The time has come for a couple of the Boston Celtics‘ prized young prospects to adopt more veteran responsibilities—namely as front-line fixtures in the starting lineup.

Jared Sullinger only started 44 games a season ago, and Kelly Olynyk started just nine.

That’s about to change.

According to The Boston Globe‘s Gary Washburn, “While Olynyk, a second-year player from Gonzaga, is a classic ‘stretch 4′ with perimeter skills, [head coach Brad ]Stevens said he is Boston’s best option at center.”

In his recent column, Washburn adds that, “Sullinger is expected to start at power forward with Jeff Green at small forward and Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo in the backcourt.”

“I think it would be tough to unseat [Olynyk] right now,” Stevens recently told The Boston Globe. “With that being said, we still have two weeks but that’s where I am right now. The good news about that and the part that’s kind of up in the air is Kelly can play the 4 and the 5, so who knows what’s going to happen?” 

Nine-year veteran Brandon Bass started 73 games last season, and departed big man Kris Humphries started another 30. Now seems like an obvious time to see what the next generation of bigs can do in Boston—particularly what they can do together.

With Stevens seriously entertaining the option, it’s worth considering the costs and benefits of starting Sullinger and Olynyk on a full-time basis.

 

The Good

Sullinger and Olynyk represent the future. The sooner Stevens puts them in positions to be successful, the sooner they’ll usher in the next phase of general manager Danny Ainge’s rebuilding process.

That phase probably doesn’t include an imminent postseason appearance, but patience remains in order after a 25-win season.

In the short term, the two bigs will space the floor with their shooting abilities, providing Rondo with targets when he’s in facilitation mode—which is most of the time.

With Olynyk making 35.1 percent of his three-point attempts last season (and Sullinger achieving a lesser mark at 26.9 percent), the big idea is to keep the floor spread with spot-up options.

“The other factor in this is our guards are solid, capable shooters but it’s not like that’s their reputation,” Stevens recently explained to reporters, per Washburn. “It’s not like a guy that runs off screens and shoots 45 percent from 3. So having more guys that space the floor in the frontcourt is going to be important. As a result, we’ll be at times smaller.”

This offense needs some life.

The Celtics only scored 99.7 points per 100 possessions last season, giving them an offensive efficiency that ranked 27th league-wide, according to Hollinger Stats. The club’s 51.7 true shooting percentage ranked 28th.

Those struggles are explained in part by the fact Rondo only played in 30 games after recovering from an ACL injury.

But Boston’s especially stagnant offense suggests more systemic problems. Maybe a new starting five will help.

“Me and Sully [Jared Sullinger] and even BB [Brandon Bass] are sometimes outside, spotting up and drawing defenses out to open the lane for guards penetrating the ball,” Olynyk told the Boston Herald‘s Steve Bulpett.

Olynyk should be especially effective in that role given his perimeter success as a rookie.

“With his size, [Olynyk] has the ability to stretch defenses out, being able to shoot all the way to the three,” teammate Joel Anthony told reporters this month, via thestar.com’s Josh Rubin. “But he can also handle the ball very well. He’s very shifty and crafty.”

And while Sullinger wasn’t especially efficient in his sophomore campaign, he did attempt 2.8 three-pointers per game. The hope remains that he blossoms into a poor man’s Kevin Love.

Both Sullinger and Olynyk rebound the ball well. Sullinger tallied 8.1 boards in 27.6 minutes per game last season, while Olynyk collected 5.2 in 20 minutes per game. They’re well-suited to creating the kind of inside-out presence Stevens imagines. 

Just don’t expect them to become saviors in the process.

 

The Bad

The Celtics aren’t going to scare anyone defensively with this lineup. 

Washburn noted that it was Sullinger who guarded Toronto Raptors big man Jonas Valanciunas in one preseason game. One way or another, Boston will find itself playing defense that’s either undersized (Sullinger) or overmatched physically (Olynyk).

For now, the team’s trying to put a positive spin on it, accentuating those offensive possibilities.

“He’s not necessarily a traditional center from a skill-set standpoint,” Stevens admitted to media this month, per Rubin. “He’s not going to weigh more than most centers. But he is a matchup problem for most bigs, because he can play on the block but he’s really good facing the basket.”

The Celtics ranked 20th in defensive efficiency last season, giving up 105.2 points per 100 possessions, according to Hollinger Stats. Neither Sullinger nor Olynyk will provide the kind of rim protection needed to turn that around.

And with Tyler Zeller, Joel Anthony and Vitor Faverani the only other bigs (besides Bass) likely to see minutes, this is a problem that goes way beyond Sullinger and Olynyk.

The other drawback to starting these two is that it means one less scoring threat coming off the bench.

The Celtics’ bench averaged 30.1 points per game last season, the 17th-best mark in the league. That’s not terrible, but remember Sullinger, Olynyk and Humphries came off the bench for quite a few games last season. They provided the second unit with options and stability it may no longer have under the proposed arrangement.

Depth and defense—the kind of things separating the Celtics from the playoff heights to which they aspire.

The kind of problems Sullinger and Olynyk won’t solve.

 

The Ugly Truth

No lineup adjustment or strategic innovation will change Boston’s immediate fate. This young roster is a long way from contending and perhaps another year or two away from even thinking about the playoffs.

There will be bumps along the way for Sullinger and Olynyk—and an obvious learning curve for rookies Marcus Smart and James Young. Stevens and his staff are choosing between the lesser of evils, preferably deploying a lineup that builds for the future while stopping the bleeding in the interim.

From that perspective, the Celtics don’t have much choice.

Zeller was a nice young pickup this summer, but Sullinger and Olynyk are the closest things to post players with star potential. Even if they continue to look like role players in the near-term, their development is important to the organization’s broader plans.

Why wait to get the ball rolling?

Read more NBA news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Weighing the Pros and Cons of the NBA Draft Combine 5-on-5 Format Change

Finally, a reason to watch the NBA Draft Combine. 

According to ESPN.com’s Chad Ford, the NBA will be bringing back five-on-five competition to next year’s combine, which should come as good news to evaluators who’ve been stuck watching three-man weaves and layup lines. 

That’s what the combine has consisted of since 2009—basic drills you’d see during any standard high school practice. 

However, while there are significant pros to adding five-on-five competition, there are also a couple of cons. 

All in all, it’s still a positive for an event that has seemingly begun to lose its allure over the past few seasons. 

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Pros and Cons of Boston Celtics Starting Marcus Smart Right Away

The sky is the limit for Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart. A tenacious rookie out of Oklahoma State, Smart was selected by the Celtics with the No. 6 overall pick in the draft for one obvious reason: Boston feels he could be a cornerstone for the future of the franchise.

The question is, should the C’s start Smart (try saying that five times fast) alongside Rajon Rondo right out of the gate, or should they exercise patience and allow him to grow off the bench?

Taking into consideration the fact that the Celtics re-signed Avery Bradley to a four-year, $32 million deal this summer, per Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe, you would think the plan is to bring Smart off the pine due to the amount of money Bradley will be making. However, take a second look at that contract. It’s for four years. Does anyone seriously believe that Boston aims to keep Smart in a reserve role for four seasons?

That’s what makes this decision a bit debatable and why it is prudent that we weigh the pros and cons of the C’s immediately throwing Smart into the fray as a starter.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Pros and Cons of Andrew Wiggins Starting Right Away for Minnesota Timberwolves

When the 2014-15 NBA season tips off, there’s still no telling where Andrew Wiggins will be. 

At least we know what team he’ll be playing for, as he’s officially joined the Minnesota Timberwolves following the trade that sent Kevin Love to the Cleveland Cavaliers. But beyond that, everything is up in the air, as Minnesota head coach and president of basketball operations Flip Saunders won’t commit to starting Wiggins. 

According to Andy Greder of the St. Paul Pioneer Press on Twitter (h/t CBS Sports’ Zach Harper), Saunders was “noncommittal on Andrew Wiggins starting” during a radio appearance. 

That’s fine.

There’s plenty of time remaining—as well as training camp and preseason—before the Timberwolves have to make any sort of decision as to Wiggins’ role during the opening salvo of his rookie season. Rushing into a choice would be foolish.

But what’s in the team’s best interest? We can determine that much at this stage, even if that doesn’t lock Wiggins into the starting five or onto the pine. 

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Pros and Cons of Los Angeles Lakers Gambling on Michael Beasley

From the Miami Heat to the Minnesota Timberwolves. From the Wolves to the desert-based Phoenix Suns. From the Suns back to South Beach and the Heat. 

In just six seasons, Michael Beasley has become quite the well-traveled NBA player, hopping from team to team as he attempts to jump-start his career in the Association, one that fizzled after he was selected at No. 2 in the 2008 NBA draft. 

Could the Los Angeles Lakers be his next destination? 

According to USA Today‘s Sam Amick, Beasley has already met with the recently downtrodden organization for a second time this offseason, though he remains an unrestricted free agent: 

After missing out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony in July, the Lakers held a free agent workout Tuesday in Los Angeles. The workout included forward Michael Beasley; big men Dexter Pittman, Greg Stiemsma, and Daniel Orton; and guards Bobby Brown, Toney Douglas, Ben Hansbrough and Malcolm Lee, a person with knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

Putting aside the fact that this makes it sound as though Beasley is a Plan B after the team missed out on LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony, this is still significant. The Lakers have two unfilled roster spots, and the former No. 2 pick is now a legitimate candidate for one of them. 

But is that a good thing? 

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Pros and Cons of College Basketball Realignment in the 2014-15 Season

As of July 1, 16 college basketball teams have changed conferences for the 2014-15 season, and we’ve come up with 10 pros and cons from those moves.

Compared to the dozens and dozens of schools that realigned conferences last summer, this set of transitions was barely a drop in the bucket, but there were certainly some major ramifications, nonetheless.

If nothing else, getting used to seeing Maryland in the Big Ten and Louisville in the ACC will take some time.

In case you need a cheat sheet of which teams are moving to and from where, we’re including a full list of moves on the next slide before diving into the pros and cons.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Pros and Cons of Los Angeles Lakers Re-Signing Nick Young

It’s official: The Swag is back.

On the free-agent market, that is.

The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Wednesday that Nick Young will not be opting into the second year of his contract with the Purple and Gold. “We anticipated and expected that Nick would choose to become a free agent,” GM Mitch Kupchak said in the team’s official statement. “We very much appreciate his contributions to last season’s team, and we will hopefully be able to bring him back. However, he, his agent and the market will dictate his future direction.”

And what a market that might be. Young’s coming off of the finest year of his NBA career and, at 29, should still have years of quality basketball left in the tank. It’ll certainly cost the Lakers—or any other team, for that matter—more than the two years at the veteran’s minimum to which L.A. signed him last summer to keep/bring him aboard.

But would that expense be worth the Lakers’ while, even with all of the cap space they’re due this summer? Let’s consider the pros and cons of Swaggy P’s potential future at Staples Center.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Jimmy Fallon’s March Madness ‘Pros and Cons’ Are Hilarious and ‘Creigh, Creigh’

Jimmy Fallon has a video that is pure March Madness hilarity. Actually, if one were so bold, they might claim that it’s March “Creigh, Creigh.”

SportsGrid’s Matt Rudnitsky spotted one of the latest videos from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which takes aim at the “Pros and Cons” of March Madness. 

You know, that thing that has completely dominated all that you care about this month?

Fallon takes shots at President Obama, Duke and wraps it altogether in the kind of delivery that has garnered immense ratings for his budding iteration of the show. 

Of course, the man to take the biggest ribbing during the bit is the president, who gets two jokes tossed his way. The last is, “And finally, Pro: Spending all day at work filling out your brackets. Con: Then going back to your job as President of the United States.”

One of the best lines has to be the jab at Duke: “Pro: A low-seeded team that goes far in the tournament is known as a ‘Cinderella.’ Con: A high-seeded team that loses early is known as a ‘Duke.’”

It’s a new day, and there aren’t nearly as many people sticking around late at night to take in various shows as they used to. 

The name of the game is get as much viral content to float across the transom of the Internet, where a sizable chunk of the audience lives each day. 

With so many hosts and late-night fare to choose from, Fallon has mastered the ability to lead a show and also create bite-sized snacks of comedy. 

Thankfully, his latest is exactly what we needed to sate our hunger for the tournament ahead of what will be a very delightful Sweet 16. 

Pro: Jimmy Fallon leads late-night. Con: We can’t think of any. 

 

Hit me up on Twitter

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Jimmy Fallon’s March Madness ‘Pros and Cons’ Is Hilarious and ‘Creigh, Creigh’

Jimmy Fallon has a video that is pure March Madness hilarity. Actually, if one were so bold, they might claim that it’s March “Creigh, Creigh.”

SportsGrid’s Matt Rudnitsky spotted one of the latest videos from The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, which takes aim at the “Pros and Cons” of March Madness. 

You know, that thing that has completely dominated all that you care about this month?

Fallon takes shots at President Obama, Duke and wraps it altogether in the kind of delivery that has garnered immense ratings for his budding iteration of the show. 

Of course, the man to take the biggest ribbing during the bit is the president, who gets two jokes tossed his way. The last being, “And finally, Pro: Spending all day at work filling out your brackets. Con: Then going back to your job as President of the United States.”

One of the best lines has to be the jab at Duke: “Pro: A low-seeded team that goes far in the tournament is known as a ‘Cinderella.’ Con: A high-seeded team that loses early is known as a ‘Duke.’”

It’s a new day, and there isn’t nearly as many people sticking around late at night to take in various shows as they used to. 

The name of the game is get as much viral content to float across the transom of the Internet, where a sizable chunk of the captivated audience lives each day. 

With so many hosts and late-night fare to choose from, Fallon has mastered the ability to lead a show and also create bite-sized snacks of comedy. 

Thankfully, his latest is exactly what we needed to sate our hunger for the tournament ahead of what will be a very delightful Sweet 16. 

Pro: Jimmy Fallon leads late-night. Con: We can’t think of any. 

 

Hit me up on Twitter

Read more College Basketball news on BleacherReport.com

View full post on Bleacher Report – College Basketball

Pros and Cons of Kobe Bryant Sitting out Rest of LA Lakers Season

Kobe Bryant’s injuries might force him to miss the season, an occurrence that comes with positives and negatives.

Bryant rehabbed from an Achilles tear he suffered at the end of 2012-13 and rejoined the Los Angeles Lakers for all of six games this campaign. The former league MVP then fractured the lateral tibial plateau in his knee and is at risk of missing the remainder of the year.

Bryant could still return and play in a few games (give or take 10-15 contests), but it’s entirely possible that the pros outweigh the cons as it pertains to sitting out the year.

Begin Slideshow

View full post on Bleacher Report – NBA

Next Page »