The Boston Celtics have undergone a drastic overhaul in the offseason and as we finish our breakdown of the 2013-14 roster, we take a look at the center position. Three players that were not with the team last season will man the middle this season, one experienced NBA vet, a Brazilian making his NBA debut and a rookie looking to make his mark on the league. It will be nothing if not interesting in Boston this season and the center position will be no different. Here is a look at the big men manning the 5 spot for the Celtics this season and what we can expect to see from them in 2013-14.
Big man Kris Humphries may not be a natural center but with his size, rebounding ability and experience it seems likely he will be trusted as the starter, at least initially, by coach Brad Stevens. The 28-year-old Humphries comes off a down year in 2012-13 with the Brooklyn Nets and will be looking to bounce back to his former high levels of production in his first season with the Celtics. Humphries averaged 5.8 points and 5.6 rebounds in just 18.3 minutes last season, but Celtics fans should look toward his previous production for a better gauge of what to expect from him this season.
Prior to last season, Humphries had averaged a double-double in his two previous seasons. In 2010-11 he averaged a very solid 10 points and 10.4 rebounds before those numbers ballooned to 13.8 and 11 in ’11-12 as a full-time starter. Both years, Humphries was among the top five rebounders in the league and has proven to be one of the elite players on the boards throughout his career. Humphries has great strength and hands, allowing him to battle for rebounds and also finish at a decent percentage around the rim. This young Celtics roster will give Humphries a fresh chance to show how productive he can be when given consistent playing time.
Humphries endured a tough 2012-13 season and the media frenzy that surrounded his marriage to and subsequent divorce from Kim Kardashian has finally died down. He will likely be rejuvenated playing alongside the young players in Boston, away from the New York media spotlight and with a chance to really impress teams before he is a free agent at the end of the season. That big $12 million expiring contract will likely garner a lot of attention around the trade deadline and general manager Danny Ainge may look to move Humphries if he can gain additional assets in any deal. It will likely depend on the progress of Boston’s young big men as the season goes on, as right now Humphries has been doing everything right in training and is a proven commodity on the court that Stevens is likely to rely on heavily early on. Expect a big bounce back from Humphries this season and a return to his 10-point, 10-rebound production of the past.
The Celtics signed Brazilian center Vitor Faverani in the offseason and will be looking for an immediate contribution as he enters his first season in the NBA. Faverani may be a rookie to the league, but he has been playing professionally since he was 17 years old and is a big, strong, experienced player with surprising touch and skills for a man his size. Faverani played for Valencia Basket in the Spanish ACB last season and in 23 games averaged 9.3 points and 4.6 rebounds off the bench. At 6’11″, he has a very solid frame, is not afraid to bang bodies in the paint and is one of the few interior defenders the Celtics have on the roster this season.
Faverani has a decent offensive game and good range on his jump shot that should allow him to contribute on both ends for the Celtics once he finds his feet in the league. It is still unknown how he will handle NBA caliber athletes night in and night out, but there is no doubt Faverani can play. With his strength and physicality he will earn minutes from the get go, if his offensive game continues to develop he could be a pleasant surprise in Boston this season. Expect a slow start, but a seven-point, four-rebound rookie season would seem reasonable for Faverani and a gradual improvement as he grows accustomed to the NBA.
Rookie Kelly Olynyk was covered in our power forward breakdown earlier, but is set to battle for minutes at both the 4 and 5 positions. Olynyk provides a different look at center from the physicality of both Humphries and Faverani with his versatile offensive game. He will likely see spot minutes at both positions early on until he is able to establish himself in the NBA and determine where he will play long term.