With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.

2015-16 season

36 games with the Celtics: 8.8 minutes, 2.7 points, 36.7% FG, 0.4 assists, 1.0 rebounds, 0.4 steals

The expectations were a bit higher than the production for R.J. Hunter in his rookie season after he was drafted with the 28th overall pick by the Celtics in the 2015 draft. He spent a stint in the D-League during the middle of the season, which proved to be beneficial, but never found a way to get meaningful minutes at the NBA level. In fairness, he never quite gave Brad Stevens a reason to give him quality minutes. When the 22-year-old was on, however, he showed exactly what president of basketball operations Danny Ainge sees in him. He showed the ability to shoot with some consistency and be a reliable option off the bench for some spot-up shooting, but it was not often that he did that.

Projected role in 2016-17

Should he make the roster, he would be an end-of-the-bench guy who would be relied on for perimeter shooting. His defense is not stellar, but he would be more than serviceable at the two in order to give Avery Bradley rest while still give the C’s the threat of shooting from deep on the floor.

Biggest strength 

Shooting

His shooting has been harped on enough already, and that’s because he has the ability to pull from deep with spot-on accuracy. If he finds the form he did in college, there should be no reason for him not to make the roster given the team’s perimeter shooting situation. In essence, the more he can hone in on that strength, the more of a case he makes for himself not only to make the roster but also be utilized more frequently as a non-garbage time option off the bench.

Biggest weakness

Inconsistency

Hunter’s inconsistency is what got him banished to the D-League last season, and if it continues this year it likely would produce a result of him missing the roster or being relegated to Maine once again. He shot a mere 30.2 percent from 3 and a not much better 36.7 percent from the field, and month-to-month his shooting percentages were all over the place. As intense of a chase as making the final 15 will be, reliability will be looked upon much more favorably than a boom-or-bust type player.

Likelihood of making final 15

60/40 in favor of cracking the squad

This training camp could not be anymore critical for Hunter. As mentioned before, if he hits shots the way he’s capable of, there would be no reason for him not to make this roster — especially with the lack of shooting on this team. Should he flounder in camp, though, he may have to find his way back to the Celtics via the D-League.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.

JAE CROWDER

2015-16 season 

73 games with Celtics: 31.6 minutes, 14.2 points, 44.2% FG, 5.1 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1.7 steals

After signing a five-year, $35 million deal in the summer of 2015, Crowder proved he was worth every penny. He emerged as one of the better small forwards in the Eastern Conference — a two-way wing-defender who could knock down jump shots on the other end of the floor. Crowder finished the regular season shooting 33 percent from deep, but from inside the arc — his sweet spot — Crowder shot 41.6 percent. He also was a leader in the locker room and a catalyst who helped pushed the Celtics to a 48-34 regular-season record. For his production, Crowder is a bargain. 

Projected role in 2016-17

As the Celtics’ most versatile defender, Crowder will continue to be a defensive anchor in the front court and should get more touches on the offensive end. With Al Horford’s inside presence, Crowder will get more open looks — which should help him improve on his 44.2 percent field goal percentage from last season. But more importantly, he’s proven he can guard some of the league’s best players — All-Stars like LeBron James, Paul George and Jimmy Butler. Crowder’s defensive assignments against some of the best teams in the Eastern Conference will give the Celtics a fighting chance to reach the upper echelon of the conference. He also will continue his leadership role in the locker room and show his understudy — rookie small forward Jaylen Brown — the ropes.

Biggest strength

Defense

What makes Crowder so valuable is his ability to defend the opposing team’s best scorer. He finished with 47 total votes for the NBA All-Defensive Team, including three first-team votes — nearly tying Paul George (48) for a spot on the second team. Crowder is being recognized as one of the better one-on-one defenders in the league — it’s his most important role for this team. 

Biggest weakness

Scoring off the dribble

The only thing preventing Crowder from becoming a 20-point scorer is his inability to score off the dribble. He’s definitely a scorer — one of the Celtics’ best — but Crowder scores in one of two ways: catch-and-shoot or drive to the rim. He’ll occasionally take one dribble before a shot but isn’t an isolation scorer. Not yet, at least. However, Crowder hasn’t reached his ceiling. At age 26, he’s only entering his fifth NBA season and still has room to add depth to his offense.

Likelihood of making final 15

Certain

As the team’s second-best defender, Crowder should return to the starting lineup. He’s a vital piece for the Celtics as they look to blossom into one of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.

MARCUS GEORGES-HUNT

2015-16 season

36 games with Georgia Tech: 32.4 minutes, 16.7 points, 45.4% FG, 3.3 assists, 3.4 rebounds, 0.9 steals

The 22-year-old was signed earlier this summer as an undrafted free agent after a successful four seasons at Georgia Tech. The 6-foot-5 guard shot 34.2 percent from beyond the arc but didn’t pull from deep frequently, averaging just more than three attempts per game. He also shot well from the field in general, hitting 45.4 percent. He led the Yellow Jackets three games into the NIT.

Projected role in 2016-17

Georges-Hunt appears to be nothing more than a development signing.. He will play in a handful of preseason games and ultimately get sent to the D-League to continue to develop.

Biggest strength 

Size

At a solid 6-foot-5, 215 pounds, Georges-Hunt possess pretty good size for a guy who can run both at guard and forward. Should he play guard, his size would create mismatches in terms of rebounding, though those opportunities would be few and far between.

Biggest weakness

Lack of a specialization

A large reason Georges-Hunt went undrafted is that he lacks any specialty that would warrant a team investing a draft pick or roster spot on him. He can shoot from 3-point range, but that’s largely on uncontested looks, and he couldn’t be looked upon as a spot-up shooter. He is a good player all-around, but not so much that the Celtics would use a roster spot on him, as he would not bring anything new or above average to the table.

Likelihood of making final 15

Highly unlikely

A good camp could create some surprises for Georges-Hunt, but that would be one huge surprise. Expect him to be in the D-League once the season begins.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.

Ben Bentil looks to earn a spot with the Celtics after starring at Providence College. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

Ben Bentil looks to earn a spot with the Celtics after starring at Providence College. (Geoff Burke/USA Today Sports)

2015-16 season

35 games with Providence College: 34.2 minutes, 21.1 points, 46 FG%, 7.7 rebounds, 1.2 blocks

As Providence’s leading scorer, Bentil led his team to the second round of the NCAA Tournament and made a name for himself as a versatile scoring power forward. As a sophomore, Bentil tripled his point average from his freshman campaign while adding a 3-point shot to his arsenal. He shot 32 percent from deep while attempting 4.5 3-pointers a night. Alongside senior point guard Kris Dunn — the No. 5 pick in the 2016 NBA draft — the duo led the Friars to a 24-11 record, the best record Providence has seen in 12 years.

Projected role in 2016-17

Bentil has a shot at making the opening night roster but will still be spending time in the D-League. He’s a project the Celtics will work on, and they demonstrated their belief in his potential by inking him to a three-year deal this summer. Bentil won’t receive meaningful minutes behind guys like Al Horford, Amir Johnson, Kelly Olynyk and Tyler Zeller but will develop his defensive prowess and scoring abilities. 

Biggest strength 

Scoring 

Bentil is a scorer who can finish around the rim and score from the perimeter. He does a good job of utilizing his strength — he has a quick first step that allows him to get past his defender and has an outside touch. Although his offense is raw, Bentil has an ability to run the floor in fast-break situations — something he showcased over the summer in summer league, as he averaged 8.7 points and 4.3 rebounds in 15.3 minutes per game in the Utah league.

Biggest weakness

Low-post defense 

In a 6-foot-8 frame, he lacks athleticism, which may limit him in becoming a solid post defender in the NBA. However, with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, Bentil has the potential to become a good pick-and-roll defender, although he’s going to need to work on footwork in order to utilize his mobility on defense.

Likelihood of making final 15

40/60 in favor of heading to the D-League

Bentil’s versatility on both ends of the floor gives him a decent shot at grabbing the Celtics’ final roster spot. He’s an ideal small-ball forward whose inside/outside scoring and help defense will give him a chance to make the team on opening night. However, James Young still has a chance of beating out Bentil for the last spot. If Bentil does make the team, he won’t see the floor much; instead he’ll be making trips to and from Portland.

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

With Celtics training camp set to begin on Sept. 26, WEEI.com presents a player-by-player breakdown of the roster. The Celtics have 20 players under contract but will have to cut the roster to 15 by the start of the season.

Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley

2015-16 season

76 games: 33.4 minutes, 15.2 points, 44.7 FG%, 2.1 assists, 2.9 rebounds, 1.5 steals

The 25-year-old was one of the most indispensable members of the team last season — as apparent by the noticeable void when the seventh-year pro went down with a hamstring injury in the first game of the postseason. Prior to that, however, the now-longest-tenured Celtic’s defense was stout as ever, leading to a spot on the NBA’s All-Defense first team, while still being a reliable shooting source from the wing. 

Projected role in 2016-17

Don’t expect Bradley’s role to change much this season. Of the 76 regular-season games he appeared in last season, he started 72 and was one of the most reliable defenders and shooters, and he should do much of the same this season. The Celtics don’t have much shooting help from 3, and Bradley likely will continue to fill the 3-and-D role for coach Brad Stevens as a result. It’s also safe to expect him to be one of the premier defensive forces in the NBA, and as long as he is at full health — which he says he is — then expect him to be a night-in, night-out starter netting 35-plus minutes per game.

Biggest strength 

Shooting

It’s worth noting that his biggest strength on most other teams would be defense, but given the lack of shooting on the Celtics, Bradley’s ability to hit from deep reliably makes it one of his biggest assets, especially on a defense-centric team. Last season he set a career high in 3-point attempts with 407, surpassing his previous high of 352. On top of that, he was shooting from deep with 36.1 percent accuracy. The defense will continue to be there, but offensively if he continues to shoot with the same accuracy and frequency as last year, he’ll solidify his role as the team’s shooter — especially in late situations — following the departure of Evan Turner.

Biggest weakness

Health

In his six NBA seasons Bradley has yet to play a full 82 games and often has been riddled with injuries at one point or another. In 2014-15 he played the highest total of his career with 77 games, a total he came one shy of last season. His injury problems struck at the worst possible time last season, resulting in him missing nearly all of the Celtics’ lone postseason series against the Hawks. With all the promise surrounding the team this season, it is pivotal that Bradley keeps himself healthy.

Likelihood of making final 15

Certain

No scenario aside from injury would result in Bradley not being on the team and starting when the season tips off on Oct. 26.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Sports Illustrated recently released its annual list of the Top 100 players in the NBA, and for the Celtics, it was merely affirmation of what they already believe: this team looks to be pretty good.

Five Celtics landed in the top 100, led by Al Horford at No. 18. Isaiah Thomas is 45, Jae Crowder 53, Avery Bradley 72 and Amir Johnson 86.

Horford was praised for his ability to fit into essentially any system and make himself a threat defensively regardless of who he’s up against. He can play in the low post, he can pick and roll, he can shoot if needed. Defensively, of course is his strength. Concern was mentioned about his rebounding troubles against top rebounders — something that has routinely plagued the Celtics — as well as his occasional interest to shoot a below-average 3-pointers.

In last year’s ranking, Thomas came in at 88, and he had something to say about it.

This year, SI gave him a little bit more respect, specifically with his reliability and durability. The article noted his ability to drive (he was second in the league in points off the drive last season) but also the fact that as a result of his interest in driving combined with a smaller stature, he is prone to getting his shot blocked.

The focal point of Crowder’s assessment was how unlikely it seemed that he would be as adored and successful in Boston as he is when he was part of the long-awaited trade of Rajon Rondo. On top of that, his ability to steal the ball (he ranked second in the league in steals) was looked favorably upon while his reticence to routinely pull the trigger from deep was criticized.

Bradley was lauded for his abilities as a two-way player, as he won accolades for defense while being a knockdown shooter periodically last season. However, the article was critical of his inability to run an offense for extended periods of time and his injury concerns.

For Johnson — arguably the biggest surprise to make the list — the focus was on what he brings to the table defensively. A case could be made he is one of the most integral parts of the Celtics defense, which is saying a lot given how solid the C’s defense is. His drawbacks included the fact that he is not exactly a threat offensively, getting most of his points from putbacks. Even still, his impact is massive given he is the first one to the bench in most games.

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Isaiah Thomas surprised 14-year-old Robbie McNulty for the second straight week by inviting him to an upcoming Celtics game as the two appeared via video on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

After joining McNulty for a surprise shooting session at a Cambridge park last week, Thomas stunned the teenager again by inviting him to a game at TD Garden.

“Thanks for letting me shoot hoops with you the other day,” Thomas said. “Keep working on that jumper. I know we talked about this upcoming season, and I’d like to invite you to one of my games as my guest. See you at the Garden.”

McNulty is a diehard Celtics fan and Thomas is his favorite player. After his first day at Cambridge Rindge and Latin High School, McNulty went to the basketball court by himself after none of his friends wanted to join him, but he wasn’t alone for long. Thomas saw McNulty playing alone and headed toward him.

“It was just so nice of him to come over and play with me,” McNulty said. “I bet he didn’t even think it would be that big of a deal to me, but for me, like, it’s crazy. He’s an NBA All-Star and he’s just looking at you and talking to you.”

Thomas and his wife, Kayla, were coming back from back-to-school night for parents at Cambridge Montessori School when Thomas spotted the high school freshman shooting by himself and decided to join him.

“He was the only kid there,” Thomas said (via The Boston Globe). “So I’m like, ‘I’m just going to go get some shots up with him.’ When I walked over, he rebounded his own shot and turned around and I’m like, ‘Can I get a couple shots?’ And he stopped. He didn’t even say a word, like his eyes were so big. He just stopped and froze and I’m like, ‘Pass me the ball.’ ”

The shooting session lasted for about 10 minutes before Thomas took a picture with the young teen. Then came the surprise on national TV. 

“I love just little interactions like that,” Thomas said. “I know it means a lot, because I was once in his shoes. I was once that kid at games wanting a player to just wave to me and acknowledge me, so I know that feeling and I know that’s my job now.

“I knew maybe even if he didn’t know who I was it would be cool to just rebound for him and shoot with him for the 10 minutes that I did.”

Blog Author: 
Josue Pavon

The Celtics signed a pair of undrafted free agents Wednesday in Jalen Jones and Damion Lee, bringing their training camp roster to 20, the maximum number a team can bring to camp. The deals was first reported by RealGM.

The Celtics signed a pair of undrafted free agents Wednesday in Jalen Jones and Damion Lee, bringing their training camp roster to 20, the maximum number a team can bring to camp. The deals was first reported by RealGM.

Jones, a 6-foot-7 forward, spent two seasons at SMU before transferring to Texas A&M for his final two seasons. During his senior year with the Aggies, Jones averaged 15.3 points per game with 7.2 rebounds alongside a 42.5 field goal percentage. Jones spent the summer league in Las Vegas with the Raptors.

The 6-foot-6 guard Lee finished his college career at Louisville for a season after beginning with Drexel. His senior season with the Cardinals, Lee averaged 15.9 points per game, with 1.5 steals, 3.9 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. He played for Miami in both the Orlando and Las Vegas summer leagues.

Per The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach, the deals are not guaranteed, which now makes four non-guaranteed deals for the Celtics, with Ben Bentil and Marcus Georges-Hunt sharing similar contract situations. Bringing all four to camp will entitle the Celtics to the players’ D-League rights.

Here’s a look at the roster the Celtics will take to training camp when it begins on Sept. 26, barring a trade or a cut.

GuardsAvery Bradley, Marcus Georges-Hunt, R.J. Hunter, Demetrius Jackson, Damion Lee, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas, James Young

Forwards/centers: Ben Bentil, Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Gerald Green, Al Horford, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Jalen Jones, Jordan Mickey, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens

Despite the seemingly constant drama surrounding the Celtics this offseason, head coach Brad Stevens has been surprisingly quiet. At the ABCD Hoops for Hope event at the TD Garden on Tuesday, Stevens opened up about a number of things that defined this offseason.

And though he’s been quiet, it hasn’t stopped him from planning constantly and paying mind to the outlook of the upcoming season.

“I think as a coach, you get away a little bit, but at some point you’re antsy to get back at it,” Stevens told reporters. “So maybe re-writing the third version of what you’re doing? I don’t know. You think about it all year. I’m just going to be ready for September 27th. Ever since the end of July I’ve had a pretty good idea of what we’re going to look like as a team and who’s going to help us in what way. It’s just a matter now of putting the pieces together and hopefully playing well”

The Celtics that fell in the first round of the 2016 postseason, though similar, will have some major changes. There was the addition of big man Al Horford, former Celtic Gerald Green, as well as No. 3 draft pick Jaylen Brown. 

With such additions, there’s been incessant changes to the outlook of the roster and thus the approach the team will have to take.

“I think you’re always tweaking and changing and you’re always making adjustments,” he said, “But I think you have to put a lot of time and thought into what your new guys have done well, how that plays within what you’ve done or if you need to change some of what you’ve done to fit them better. You go through that, and you make sure you come up with a plan that fits everybody the best to bring out all of their best strengths.”

Defense was never an issue for the Celtics in 2015-16.

One of the top defensive teams in the league last season with the likes of Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley, the Celtics are poised to continue to be a defensive force.

“You know I think we have to become a lot more efficient offensively,” Stevens said. “But the problem with that is once you emphasize one thing you can’t slack in another area, so the game is always going to come down to not turning it over and get the best shot that you can and making sure that you’re a good, consistent [team] in the way that you play effort-wise and focus-wise in the defensive end of the floor, and that’s not going to change. The game is pretty simple when you break it down like that. There are little things that I think we need to do a lot better. We’re going to have to be better this season than we were to finish where we did. I think the east is better, so we’ll find out. Time will tell.”

The biggest splash the Celtics made this season was the addition of Horford. Coming off an All-Star season with the Hawks in which he put up 15.2 points per game with 7.3 boards and 1.5 blocks, the 30-year-old will address more needs than one for the C’s.

But what he’s proven over the course of his nine years of NBA service is his ability to lead, which was incredibly apparent to the Hawks during his time there, but especially noticeable to the Celtics during their dismantling at the hands of Atlanta during the postseason.

“The one thing about Al is, he’s very comfortable in who he is,” Stevens said. “And he knows that he’s going to impact the game defensively in a good way. He know’s he’s going to do it offensively in a good way. And all he’s ever really cared about is winning. I’ve said this about only a few guys before, but winning is enough for him. And he’s clearly proven that over the years, and that’s what makes him a really, really special addition for us is that he can do all those things at a very good level, scoring, defend, everything else, but he impacts others and empowers others. So we’ll see how long it takes to get him engrained in it, but he’s a good fit for how we play.”

Also flying under the radar were the signings of Green and the re-upping of center Tyler Zeller.

Since being drafted by the Celtics in 2005 and playing his first two seasons with the Celtics, Zeller has proven to be a reliable source of shooting during his nine NBA seasons that has featured him dressing for eight different teams.

With the Heat last season, Green averaged 8.9 points with a 39.2 field goal percentage.

“I’ve been a big Gerald Green fan because I’ve been scared of him, and I think that that’s a great way to figure out how good a player is when you go into the game,” Stevens said. “He’s on your scouting report maybe in a highlighted way because he can go off for a lot of points in a short amount of time. He can change the course of the game. Does he do it every night, historically? No. But he’s had moments and times where he has done that. So I think he brings a spurtability to us that we clearly needed from a scoring standpoint.”

Zeller has had fluctuations in minutes since being dealt to the Celtics entering the 2014 season. His first season with the C’s, he played in every game, starting 59, but started just three games last season in his 60 appearances.

Regardless of minutes, Zeller has often been a reliable source of rebounding and help in the low post.

“We’ve talked about Tyler’s consistency and approach regardless of minutes” Stevens said. “He’s been a great pro, and he’s had great moments here both as a player and as a teammate and we’re thrilled that he’s back.”

But a noticeable hole will be the departure of Evan Turner to the Trailblazers. Turner was sometimes a saving grace for the Celtics, but other times was a liability.

Regardless, he was a valuable six man that is leaving quite the gap as he heads west.

“Listen that’s going to be a tough role to fill. He was a heck of a player for us, he made huge plays at the end of games. He made big, big shots. His shooting percentages were not always great, but when the game was on the line and the clock was winding down, you felt like it had a good chance of going in. He made free throws late in games and he guarded two or three positions,” Stevens said. “Time will tell, we’ll find out, we’ve got a lot of guys that will get an opportunity to step up to fill his void, and it is a void. But that’s the beautiful part of our team is, we’ll find out what guys strengths are and try to piece them all together.”

Blog Author: 
Logan Mullen