The Celtics should already know who will start at center

Tyler Zeller is one of the NBA's most underrated starting centers.
Greg M. Cooper/Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Before they signed Amir Johnson to a two-year, $24 million contract (the second year is non-guaranteed), Tyler Zeller was the only obvious choice to start at center on the Boston Celtics. But after a strong preseason in which Zeller has yet to forfeit last year's duty, it appears there's no real battle for who will start at the five.

Here's's Taylor C. Snow with more on why Zeller should be Boston's starting center for a second straight season:

Zeller has started five of the six preseason games he's appeared in so far, averaging a solid 9.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game. He's also shooting 53.3 percent from the floor, beating his man up the floor on at least one rim run every night.

Defense isn't Zeller's strong suit, but he understands his role and is as trustworthy as can be when someone passes him the ball anywhere near the basket. How long can he hold onto the job?

The starting rotation is still not set in stone, but Zeller certainly made his case to remain the starter Thursday night, when he more than held his own against a very physical New York Knicks frontcourt. The 7-footer banged bodies with bruisers Robin Lopez and Kyle O’Quinn in the post, and also made his first four shots attempts of the night, sparking the C’s to an early lead and an eventual 99-85 win. Zeller finished the night with 15 points on 6-of-11 shooting, and showed off the wide variety of ways that he can score the rock. “Tyler’s got an array of shots from a scoring standpoint and has really made those shots at a high rate for the better part of the last nine months,” Stevens said after the game. “A lot of his shots don’t’ have any physicality required because he gets the shot off before any contact. He’s got a nice little runner, a nice little floater for a guy his size, and he works hard at developing those shots.”

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