Top Bloggers: Brian Robb On The Celtics

Anyone can have a blog about an NBA team, but some set themselves apart from the rest with the dedication and valuable insight they bring to their craft. We’ll be sharing some knowledge from these dialed-in writers on Hoops Rumors in a new feature called Top Bloggers. As with The Beat, our ongoing series of interviews with NBA beat writers, it’s part of an effort to bring Hoops Rumors readers ever closer to the pulse of the teams they follow. Last time, we spoke with David Zavac, managing editor of SB Nation’s Fear the SwordClick here to see the entire Top Bloggers series.

Next up is Brian Robb, who is the owner and editor-in-chief of Celtics Hub, part of ESPN’s TrueHoop NetworkYou can follow Brian on Twitter at @CelticsHub and click here to check out his stories.

Hoops Rumors: The Celtics added David Lee, Amir Johnson and second-round draft pick Jordan Mickey to an already crowded mix of power forwards this summer. How can Brad Stevens divvy up playing time to get the most out of what they have?

Brian Robb: It’s all been about finding the right combinations. There’s an array of guys worthy of minutes, but certain guys complement each other better. For instance, Lee is a great passer and can initiate offense, so he’s a better fit with the likely starting backcourt of Marcus Smart/Avery Bradley, since that’s not a strength for either of those guys. Minutes will probably fluctuate game-to-game though, based on matchups and how particular players are performing.

Hoops Rumors: Which of the three Celtics draftees from this year has impressed you the most so far, and how much of an impact do you think he’ll make this season?

Brian Robb: R.J. Hunter has looked the smoothest of the rookies, even though all three have had their moments. Hunter’s quick release has been a weapon (even though his accuracy has been off). He’s also been a better defender than advertised. The Celtics finished toward bottom of league in 3-point shooting last year, so Hunter should get his chances if he can help there. Mickey and Rozier have also looked sharp at times, but both players have too much veteran depth in front of them to make a major impact.

Hoops Rumors: The Celtics and the Sixers are similar in the respect that they’ve each collected a slew of future draft picks and young players, but the Celtics have remained competitive, in stark contrast to Philadelphia. Do you think the Celtics would be better served pursuing a more aggressive rebuild, or are they on the right track with what they’re doing?

Brian Robb: I think they are on track. They’ve been patient waiting for the proper time to use all their draft picks in a big deal, but they are also building a solid reputation around the league with the way they have gone about things as an organization. Players seem to respect Brad Stevens and his scheme and players have fallen in line with his game planning. If Boston can continue to step forward in the East this year, they could be in line to make a big-name addition via trade/free agency next summer.

Hoops Rumors: The Celtics reportedly offered four first-rounders to both the Hornets and the Heat in an effort to move up and draft Justise Winslow this summer. Would that have been a fair price to pay for Winslow, or did the Celtics dodge a bullet when Charlotte and Miami turned them down?

Brian Robb: I think the Celtics dodged a bullet there, especially when you consider one of the unprotected picks from Brooklyn would have been headed to Charlotte in that deal. Given the state of that franchise, that pick could have been higher than the No. 9 selection on its own. Winslow is a promising prospect, but the Celtics already have Jae Crowder signed long-term at the small forward. Winslow would have helped but could have been redundant with Crowder around.

Hoops Rumors: The Celtics certainly didn’t have trouble pulling off trades last season, when they engineered 11 swaps between July 1st and the February trade deadline. Is there anyone they would have been better off keeping?

Brian Robb: I don’t think so. I think it was pretty clear last year that Ainge sold on Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green at the right time. Everyone else dealt away was expendable, so the team shouldn’t really have any seller’s remorse in the interim.

Hoops Rumors: The Celtics improved their roster this summer, but so did several other teams that finished in the middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference last year. Are the Celtics in any better position now than they were going into the offseason?

Brian Robb: I think they will be better overall because of the continuity they can build upon with 10 returning players from last year’s roster. The rest of the East improved, but the Celtics played at such a high level in the final three months of the regular season, finishing the year with a 24-12 record in their final 36 games. They won’t match that pace, but should still be a 45-plus win team after adding Lee and Johnson into the equation.

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