depth chart

Three Players to Watch (Boston Celtics)

The “Three Players to Watch” series is brought to you by the OuttaTownClowns, covering each of the league’s 30 teams providing you with insight on three guys that should demand your attention next season. As you can always expect at the OTC, not every player noted are a team’s top player, instead it may just be a player’s particular situation that’s worth following if you’re a die-hard NBA fan. 

1. Avery Bradley 

Last season proved to be a growing year for Bradley as he became a much more impactful piece to the Celtics puzzle. Provided with more playing time and trust from Head Coach Doc Rivers the Celtics combo guard turned some major weaknesses into some potential strengths this coming season. Having always been a great on-ball defender, Bradley improved his shooting stroke. In specific he showed a more consistent ability to hit the corner three ball and forced defenses to respect his off the dribble midrange game. It’s also worth noting that these are two improvements that “regular season” Rondo has yet to display. While there’s no debate Rondo is far and beyond the better ball handler, Avery is giving his Celtics coaching staff flexibility when it comes to using newly signed veteran Jason Terry. It’s likely Bradley will be given the head nod as the starting shooting guard, allowing Terry to continue to do what he does best as the sixth man. NBA fans should keep a close eye on Avery’s progress next year. He’s the league’s best on-ball defender when pressuring full court and to see him also add an offensive game is a joy to watch if you’re a fan of following player development.

2. Jared Sullinger

Sullinger couldn’t be in a better situation…

Dropping as low as Sullinger did in the draft was huge blessing in disguise for one of the best players college basketball had to offer last season. Getting in with the tradition of Celtics basketball is a perfect fit for the young power forward and being mentored by one of best power forward’s in league history won’t hurt him either. If he can avoid the injuries, Sullinger has a chance to provide a big impact in year one and will be counted upon to contribute on the offensive side of the floor. The Celtics are hoping that he can exceed the level of play of both Brandon Bass and former Celtic Leon Powe combined. Considering what the young big man did at the college level and in Orlando Summer League it looks as it that won’t be too hard to live up too as he begins his journey in the NBA.

3. Kris Joseph

Joseph will get his chance to be a contributor off the Celtics bench

Don’t sleep on this experienced college player who’s proven to be a winner at the college level. Yes, he didn’t have the most impressive college numbers, no he didn’t have the most impressive summer league, but as the current roster stands he will be counted upon to help fill some minutes while the aging Paul Pierce rests. Having a great support system around him in Pierce, Rondo, and Garnett can pay huge dividends in Joseph’s first year success. He definitely will get his chance to prove he not only belongs in the league, but also prove he can provide a positive impact on the team from day one.

 

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Ross Geiger’s 2010-2011 Most Underrated Rookie Team

Eric Bledsoe will be the best of the two Clippers' rookies

PG: Eric Bledsoe, Los Angeles Clippers

Obviously, Bledsoe starts the year off as the primary backup point guard for the LA Clippers. But he’s only just one Baron Davis-injury-away from becoming LA’s starting point guard. While we wish Baron the best for a completely healthy upcoming season, Clippers fans have a lot to look forward to in Bledsoe. At Kentucky, he flew below the radar and was overshadowed by fellow Wildcat John Wall. After Wall was selected first overall in the 2010 draft, Bledsoe was the definite best available point guard in this year’s draft class. He’s got the size, strength, quickness, and a springy step to his compliment his on court play. Often compared to Marcus Banks, I believe NBA scouts set the bar pretty low for Bledsoe as I see him easily being able to surpass Banks’s career.

Pacers coaches will have to keep a close eye on Stephenson

SG: Lance Stephenson, Indiana Pacers

Despite his demeanor and off the court troubles, Stephenson’s game is very underrated. He proved that this summer in Orlando Summer League as he showed his potential at both the point guard and shooting guard positions. If not for his off-the-court behavior, Stephenson is a definite lock as a first round pick. While he didn’t overly impress anyone at the college level, Stephenson’s style suits the NBA level of play better. Already in legal trouble even before the start of his rookie season, Stephenson’s NBA career remains in question. But one thing’s for certain, behavior aside, Stephenson is absolutely a second round steal that could become a very successful player in this league.

Pondexter's game will definitely be elevated behind the play of CP3

SF: Quincy Pondexter, New Orleans Hornets

To begin the season, Pondexter likely will be buried deep on the Hornets’ depth chart, but by the end of the season watch him find some minutes. With the Hornets’ offseason acquisition of Trevor Ariza, Pondexter’s best bet is to battle for time at the shooting guard position. His competition for backup time is Marco Belinelli, a player who seems he just can’t transition his promising Summer League games to the NBA’s main stage. After getting a good look at Pondexter in Las Vegas, I like the potential I see in him becoming a solid pro.

Caracter is in a great spot with the back-to-back champs

PF: Derrick Caracter, Los Angeles Lakers

Coming off a very impressive and productive Las Vegas Summer League performance, Derrick Caracter’s stock has definitely soared. Moving forward Caracter is in a great position with the LA Lakers. They have no expectations for him next season, no pressure to produce, and he’ll be practicing against some of the best bigs in the business: Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, Theo Ratliff, and Pau Gasol. Each of these guys can offer experiences, skills, and a give Caracter a lesson on how he can find his niche in the NBA. More likely than not, Caracter will be that young guy that comes in a blowout and goes to work hard, impressing on National TV coverage. He’ll let the world know who he is and what he has to offer in the near future.

Lean, Mean, Shot Blocking Machine

C: Hassan Whiteside, Sacramento Kings

When it comes to Hassan Whiteside it’s all about the “what could be”. He’s been my favorite prospect in the past draft class and continues to keep me wondering how good he actually may become. Going into his first year he’s got a lot of obstacles and challenges that await. I’ve talked with a variety of sources that have seen Whiteside and the majority of them give me negative feedback. But I remain on the other side of the fence with Whiteside. He’s young, he’s unpolished, and isn’t ready to step out on the court for consistent contributions, but he’s going to impress once he gets his chances. The majority of his first year will be spent in the Developmental League where he has a chance to grow as pro and develop his defensive minded game. If Whiteside can learn how to be an effective rebounder to go along with his incredible shot blocking ability, he’s going to be an impressive defensive gem down the road.

This is Part 4 of Ross Geiger’s 7-part Blog Series covering the NBA’s most prominent young players. Be sure to be on the lookout for Part 5 that’s coming soon! In the mean time, follow Ross Geiger on Twitter: @RossGeiger.