Oct 8, 2016; Uncasville, CT, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens during a preseason game against the Charlotte Hornets at Mohegan Sun Arena. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
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The Boston Celtics have yet to name a team captain since the Rajon Rondo trade in the 2014-15 season. The captaincy is a Celtics tradition dating all the way back to 1950 when Bob Cousy held the title. Ever since then, the Celtics have always had a player designated as the primary leader of the team. However, should head coach Brad Stevens decide to name one player on the current roster captain even though there are many who are deserving?
Naming a captain is a very important move for a team to make. Especially on a contending team, making one player the overall leader can be risky. The Celtics have numerous players on the roster that could be named captain. This is the most likely reason Brad Stevens and the rest of the coaching staff have held off on the move.
Typically, captains are named on teams that are that the beginning stages of building a winning team. For example, Rondo was given the title the season following the departure of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. At that point, the Celtics did not really have an identity yet, and made Rondo the captain to lead the team in the right direction.
In this case, the Celtics are a contending team with a lot of talented players on the roster. I would say there are about four guys that could make a case to become the Celtics next captain.
Oct 29, 2016; Charlotte, NC, USA; Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas (4) tries to pass the ball while falling to the floor during the second half against the Charlotte Hornets at the Spectrum Center. The Celtics defeated the Hornets 104-98. Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Isaiah Thomas is probably the unofficial captain of team right now. He is arguably the best player on the roster, and is very outspoken on and off the court. He takes responsibility for the team’s shortcomings, as well as holds everyone accountable for the sake of the team.
The issue with naming Thomas captain, is that the other three options have been on the team longer. When Rondo was named captain, he was the longest tenured member of the team.
However, the “little guy” is probably the favorite to be named captain if Brad Stevens decides to go that route.
Oct 15, 2016; New York, NY, USA; New York Knicks forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas (91) goes up for a shot against Boston Celtics guard Marcus Smart (36) during the first half at Madison Square Garden. The Celtics won 119-107. Mandatory Credit: Andy Marlin-USA TODAY Sports
Marcus Smart has been the emotional leader of the Celtics ever since he was drafted in 2014. He has been the embodiment of the team’s identity, and gives the organization everything he has night in and night out. It would make sense to make Smart the captain due to the fact that he is likely to be under contract the longest out of anyone else on the team. Stevens could look at Smart as the current, and future leader for the team.
The argument against Smart would be the fact that he has not turned into the big time player the Celtics expected yet. He could very well break out this year and turn the bench into one of the most dangerous units in the NBA. But until then, it would be a little weird to name a player captain that has not fully developed yet.
Dec 19, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Zach LaVine (8) controls the ball while being defended by Boston Celtics guard Avery Bradley (0) during the first half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
The longest tenured player on the team, Avery Bradley would be a great captain because he has always played very hard for the Celtics. Bradley has improved his game every season since being drafted 19th in 2010, and would be a great example for the young players coming in.
The issue with Bradley being captain is that he is more of a lead by example type of player. He would have to be more vocal on and off the court, and who knows if he would welcome that. It isn’t bad that Bradley leads by example, but it’s a reason that could keep him from being named captain of this team.
Feb 29, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Celtics forward Jae Crowder (99) celebrates against the Utah Jazz during the second half at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Mark L. Baer-USA TODAY Sports
Jae Crowder is one of the most important players on the Celtics roster. When on the court, he makes the Celtics a much better team with his versatility. Boston fans quickly fell in love with his style of play after receiving him in the Rondo trade. Crowder would be a fine captain. He has the respect of his teammates, and would make sure that everyone is playing to their best ability.
Naming Crowder captain over the other three options would not really make sense. While qualified, the forward should not be named as the single captain over his teammates that might be more equipped to lead the team.
Nov 12, 2016; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens draws up a play during a timeout for his team in the second half of the game against the Indiana Pacers at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Boston Celtics beat the Indiana Pacers 105 to 99. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
In this situation, the Celtics should not name a singular captain to lead the team. There are simply too many qualified players to choose from, and it wouldn’t make sense to give one guy a higher status when the identity of the team is that everyone is on the same level.
I propose that if Brad Stevens chooses to name a captain, that he names all four players for the title. Every player has a unique way of leading that are vital to the team’s success. Naming multiple captains would not be new for the Celtics. Mostly in the 90’s, the Celtics had two or three captains on different occasions. Naming Thomas, Bradley, Smart, and Crowder captains would be a cool and effective way to continue the Celtics tradition, and keep this promising team moving in the right direction.