The Celtics didn’t make any major moves in free agency, but their roster will look a little different in 2021. We are resetting the depth chart and have already taken a deep dive into the point guards and shooting guards. Now, it’s time to look at the small forward position.
Starter: Jaylen Brown
Backup No. 1: Aaron Nesmith
Backup No. 2: Grant Williams
Similar to the shooting guard position, small forward is very fluid for the Celtics. On the depth chart, Jaylen Brown will most likely be the starting three, but Jayson Tatum will see considerable time there too when Boston plays big. Plus, Grant Williams is a small forward/power forward combo, so he could bounce around in different spots as well.
The position is very top-heavy, like most of the Celtics’ roster. Brown is the star, who averaged 25 points and six rebounds per game last season, and then there are some decent role players.
Brown has improved each year he has been in the league. He helps spread the floor, which will be even more important when not so great shooters Dennis Schröder and Marcus Smart are on the floor at the same time. Brown has proven he can be a go-to guy and can carry an offense. Pair him with Tatum and the Celtics have a young two-headed monster. Now, they just need that third star.
Aaron Nesmith is an interesting piece to the Celtics’ puzzle. Last season, he didn’t do much, mostly because he wasn’t given the opportunity. The Vanderbilt-product only played in 46 games, averaging 14.5 minutes and 4.7 points.
Nesmith was touted as one of, if not the top shooter in his draft class. He made 37 percent of the threes he took during his rookie campaign – good, not great. However, the sophomore has been showing out in Summer League, ranking in the top-five for field-goals and three-pointers, and he’s top-ten in scoring.
The small forward position is still pretty busy, so Nesmith won’t see a crazy amount of time, but if he can continue to improve like he’s shown so far in Las Vegas, he could be a very solid role player for Boston. He will fill the role of “off-the-bench shooter” right now, and seems like a rotation piece in a year or two.
Grant Williams is more of a power forward than small forward, but his best chance to play this season is to play at the three. The power forward room is a little busier. No matter where he plays, however, Williams won’t be seeing too much time in 2021. Nesmith has leapfrogged him in the depth chart because of his superior athleticism, ability to stretch the floor and shoot.
Williams’ only opportunities to see the court next season is in big lineups or if the Celtics need him for certain defensive matchups. His offense is limited and doesn’t compare with Boston’s other options.
The small forward position is where you finally get to the real talent on the Celtics team. The ball will be in the three’s hands a lot next season, and rightfully so. Boston fans won’t need to worry about a lack of talent here. They should focus on the growth of Nesmith, though, because it will be one of the most intriguing bench storylines of the season.