For the first time in quite a while, the Boston Celtics have uncertainty at the center position.
After the departures of Al Horford and Aron Baynes, Boston needed to fill the voids left on the fly. As the dust settles on free agency, one thing is clear; they are fixing this situation with a center by committee approach.
 
With the signings of Enes Kanter and Vincent Poirier, the Celtics have some depth at center. They will join the returning Daniel Theis and Robert Williams III to complete a four-man race for minutes at the five.
 
Each guy provides their individual strengths and questions about their game. Determining which guys raise the teams ceiling most should be a goal in training camp.

Enes Kanter

Enes the Menace. Enes Kanter is the only certainty among the Celtics center options. We know what he is at this point in his career. We’ve watched him develop into a double-double machine over the past eight seasons.
 
Kanter has an elite low post offensive repertoire. You can make a case for him being one of the best interior offensive big men in the NBA today. He has a knack for scoring in the post. Even more, he shows the awareness and passing ability to make plays when teams collapse on him.
He’s developed a mid-range jumper over the years. It’s not unfathomable to believe that he can take that shot a few feet back and start moving out to 3-point range. Brad Stevens will sure as hell die trying if he can’t.
Kanter’s rebounding is something Boston hasn’t had in a long, long time. Who was the last forceful rebounder the Celtics have had? Pre-injury Kendrick Perkins and washed-up Rasheed Wallace in 2010?
Anyways, Kanter is an absolute terror on the offensive glass. With a lineup with a ton of shooting around him, the second chances he creates will be huge for the offense.

Kanter’s Defense

He’s never been a solid defender by any means. While his defense is serviceable in the post, he’s horrible in the open court. It’s a buffet for any point guard that gets Kanter switched onto him with a live dribble.
 
The positive for Boston? There is only a handful of guards in the East that can make you pay off the dribble. One of them is on the roster, so that dampers the handful a bit.
At the end of the day, his defense isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be. He was fine in the playoffs. The only team that had the ability to run him off the court was the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals but they do that to every big.
 
Boston’s best bet might be to bring Kanter off the bench with Marcus Smart. The Celtics bench is young, so having two solid vets down there would be huge for the kids. The duo will mesh together quite well on the offensive end as well. Smart’s developed a knack to run a highly efficient two-man game with his big men. He built quite a rapport with Horford in the pick and roll. Smart and Kanter can have the same success.

Robert Williams III

The Celtics brass is hoping “Timelord” Williams takes the next step in his development this season. He slipped to Boston late in the first round of last year’s draft. He became a weird Celtics Twitter hero in his rookie season. From a basketball standpoint, his first year showcased the highs and lows of a rookie. The minutes were inconsistent, so was the production.
Williams athleticism jumps off the screen at you whenever he is on the floor. He possesses the athleticism and build to be an elite rim protector and rim runner in the NBA.
The issue with Williams tends to come in the mental aspect of the game. He commits silly fouls and often finds himself in the wrong spots on both sides of the floor. As his awareness improves, the rest of his game will follow. He has all the physical tools, adding the mental aspects to his game is the next step.
 
In Summer League, Williams displayed developed ball handling and play-making ability. The jump shot is a work in progress, but its showing signs of improvement and respectability. His impact at the rim is obvious but the continued development of a jumper is they key to unlocking his game.
 
William’s situation is interesting. The expectation is that he takes the next step in his development and seizes the bulk of the center minutes. While this is likely, a stunt in development and a fall out of the rotation still aren’t out of the question.

Vincent Poirier

He is the biggest question mark of them all. We’ve never seen Vincent Poirier play in an NBA game. After watching some of his Euro League tape, there is a ton to be excited about.
 
Offensively, he is always in the right place for guards for dunk opportunities. He excels as the roller in the pick-and-roll. The ability to clear out space for offensive boards and put backs is evident. He shows a knack for cutting from the elbow for easy looks.
Defensively, he shares a lot of similarities fellow Frenchmen Rudy Gobert. He is a complete force at the rim, and has tremendous defensive awareness.
 
Poirier wasn’t brought over to ride the bench all season. He had big money offers to stay in Europe, he’s coming to the states to play actual NBA minutes. On paper, the Poirier signing may look like a project move but he possesses NBA ready talent to play from day one.
 
Poirier’s balance and polish on both sides of the ball might end up being enough for him to earn the starting nod in camp. If Williams is fully committed this summer, I’d love to see the battles between Poirier and himself for minutes. They’re so similar in ways so that battle could be great competition which is essential for both guys. They’ll make each other a lot better.

Daniel Theis

Over a full year removed from his meniscus tear, Theis is looking to return to his rookie form in year three. After a season in which he was mostly a non-factor for the Celtics and never looked quite right.
Theis possesses the most consistent shooting ability among the four centers. I expect to see him play a lot this season when the Celtics decide to go small and spread the floor. He’ll be in a specialist type role for Boston this season.
 
He may play a larger role this season than many may predict. The role won’t translate on the court but in a potential move. His $5M a year deal makes him perfect money filler in potential Celtics trade deadline move. Boston’s in a position to make deadline moves for the first time in years. That’s because of Theis-like contracts.

Decisions to be Made

Looking at the options at center, there is something very clear. While things won’t be perfect, each brings something different to the table. Brad Stevens needs to use training camp as a way to weed out who fits best with this roster. He can’t go into regular season games without having a good idea of who fits in what spot.
Boston can’t afford to be playing the “let’s see what works” game months into the season. That screws up the rotation. Chemistry is the most important thing going into this season, a quick decision at center will go a long way.
For the first time in quite a while, the Boston Celtics have uncertainty at the center position.
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My Name is a David Barr, I am a social media manager for the site. I was born in Massachusetts in the mid-90’s so I’ve had the pleasure of being a fan of winning teams for much of my life. I’ve been spoiled by greatness all these years but yet I’m a miserable cynic about my favorite teams. I was originally brought on the site as a Celtics writer, and I’ll continue to produce NBA pieces despite my social media responsibilities. So look out for my work on the site, and on our various social media accounts.
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My Name is a David Barr, I am a social media manager for the site. I was born in Massachusetts in the mid-90’s so I’ve had the pleasure of being a fan of winning teams for much of my life. I’ve been spoiled by greatness all these years but yet I’m a miserable cynic about my favorite teams. I was originally brought on the site as a Celtics writer, and I’ll continue to produce NBA pieces despite my social media responsibilities. So look out for my work on the site, and on our various social media accounts.
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