The 2015-2016 NBA schedule has already been revealed, and the season will be here before you know it. With the Boston Celtics making the playoffs last season in only the second year of their rebuilding stage, there is reason for optimism for Celtics fans going into the season opener against the Philadelphia 76ers.
The team's front office did not make the big offseason splash that many NBA insiders predicted, but they added nice complimentary pieces in free agency and the young players from last year's playoff squad are further along in their development. The team, aside from the battle for bottom spots on the roster, is set, so we have a pretty good idea of which players have a spot in Brad Stevens' starting lineup. It's never too early to start making predictions, so here is my projected stat line for every 2015 Celtics starter.
Point Guard: Marcus Smart
The Celtics selected Smart with the sixth-overall pick in the NBA Draft just over a year ago, and he has since blossomed into an effective NBA point guard. His lockdown defense paired with his offensive aggression powered him to a nice rookie season. He showed a lot of promise during his first season in the league, and should take significant strides forward this year as he continues to develop on the offensive side of the ball.
Projected Stats: 12.1 Points Per Game, 4.9 Rebounds Per Game, 5 Assists Per Game, 1.9 Steals Per Game
Shooting Guard: Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley has been a staple at the starting shooting guard spot since the departure of Ray Allen, and has not disappointed. Since coming into the league in 2010, Bradley has been considered one of the best defensive wings in the game, and has gone on to develop an effective offensive skill set. At 24-years-old, Bradley is a veteran on a team full of young talent. His leadership and on-court performance will be critical to the success of the Celtics.
Projected Stats: 15 Points Per Game, 4 Rebounds Per Game, 3.2 Assists Per Game, 2 Steals Per Game
Small Forward: Evan Turner
After the Celtics dealt veteran point guard Rajon Rondo to Dallas mid-season, small forward Evan Turner was forced to carry out most of the ball handling duties as rookie Marcus Smart matured as an NBA player. With forward Jae Crowder getting a big payday this offseason, expect to see Turner's minutes drop off, and possibly lose his starting spot at some point in the year.
Projected Stats: 8 Points Per Game, 4.5 Rebounds Per Game, 5 Assists Per Game, .80 Steals Per Game
Power Forward: Amir Johnson
Amir Johnson was the big signing the Celtics made over the summer. He joins Boston after several years as a member of the division rival, Toronto Raptors. He is a gritty, tough player on defense and on the glass, and could be effective in Brad Stevens' offense. The Celtics also traded for former Golden State Warriors forward, David Lee, who will also see significant minutes at the power forward spot. That could result in a drop in statistical production for Johnson, but his impact on the court will be important if the team is to reach the postseason.
Projected Stats: 10 Points Per Game, 7 Rebounds Per Game, 1.3 Assists Per Game, 1.1 Steals Per Game
Center: Jared Sullinger
Jared Sullinger has been listed as a power forward for the majority of his basketball career, but with the small-ball style of basketball the Celtics played last season, he will see many of his minutes at the center position. Weight and conditioning issues have severely limited Sullinger's production to this point in his NBA career, but if reports are true, he has made significant strides towards fixing those issues. Sullinger is an extremely talented player on offense and has a knack for grabbing rebounds, and if he truly has lost weight, the former Ohio State Buckeye could have a huge year.
Projected Stats: 16 Points Per Game, 8.2 Rebounds Per Game, 3 Assists Per Game, .90 Steals Per Game
Projected Depth Chart Courtesy Of RealGM.com
By Jacob Young, @Jacob_BBS