The Celtics took a huge hit defensively when they lost Al Horford in the offseason. Not to mention Aron Baynes, who they shipped to Phoneix.
Enes Kanter should provide a significant lift on the defensive glass, but he isn’t as reliable when it comes to the other responsibilities on that end of the floor. Though, Brad Stevens does have a tendency to max out on a players’ defensive capabilities.
Either way, Horford and Baynes’ departure creates additional opportunities for Robert Williams, Daniel Theis and Semi Ojeleye.
Theis has yet to display as much as the other two on defense.
Williams could be a sturdy rim protector with his shot-blocking ability. Ojeleye — who describes himself as both an undersized four and five — has had moments where he’s shown the ability to take on some of the league’s best wings.
But both need to show growth in camp.
“I think we’ll have all kinds of lineups this year, and I think coach will just put guys out there that play well together – and, hopefully, that’s everybody,” Ojeleye said at Celtics Media Day.
There’s also Vincent Poirier, who claims he likes to do all the little things.
Having multiple options, where each offers something different, is great, but it’s still hard to figure out how everything will mesh come game time.
Right now, Stevens isn’t necessarily looking for someone to be Horford or Baynes. He just needs each player — the big men, guards and wings — to focus on doing what they do best in order to properly configure the Celtics’ defense.
“We’ve been lucky because, over the last five years or so, we’ve been one of the better ones on defense,” Stevens said. “But it’s taken a lot of commitment from a lot of guys. And it still hasn’t been as consistent as maybe you’d like. And then on offense, if you don’t stay up with the game and are able to attack the way you want to attack, then that’ll get exposed, too. But this team — we will make sure it’s an emphasis that we’re the best version of ourselves defensively. And we do have, I think, some lineups, especially, that we’ll be able to go to with the right effort and focus that could be awfully good defensively. That will be part of piecing the team together.”