BOSTON (CBS) -- Celtics training camp kicked off officially on Saturday, which is actually a little bit ahead of schedule this year. Boston was authorized to get some work in before other training camps began around the league since the C's will be taking part in the NBA Global Games exhibitions in Europe next week.
Brad Stevens wasted no time in taking advantage of the additional prep time, overseeing a double session of practice over the weekend. Unlike recent seasons though, there is less drama surrounding this year's roster. There are no notable injuries heading into camp, including no slip-and-fall incidents in the shower this time around. No disgruntled veterans, departed stars, or new head coaches to wonder about either.
Still, the lack of commotion is not exactly reflective of an uneventful training camp. In fact, you could argue that this year's preseason will be incredibly intriguing, thanks to a tremendous amount of competition on various parts of the roster. With that in mind, here are three storylines worth keeping a close eye on during the next few weeks.
Does Isaiah Thomas get a chance to start?
The shifty point guard was a sparkplug off the bench for Brad Stevens last year, but the 26-year-old has made no secret about his aspirations to start in 2015. Danny Ainge appeared more open to that possibility during an interview with Toucher and Rich last week, but the final say will ultimately lie with Brad Stevens.
The smart money has the head coach sticking with last year's incumbents in the backcourt (Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley), but there's no denying the starting unit's offense needs a bit of a jolt. If Smart can take a step forward with his offensive game from last year, he could help in that department. Otherwise, Stevens may be best off turning to his most dangerous offensive weapon in Thomas to breathe some life into the starting five.
Who is on the opening night roster?
Roster battles are fun to debate, but usually relatively meaningless when it comes to factoring into a team's success. The evenness of Boston's roster this year has added another level of intrigue to the roster storyline this month, making it one to watch. The Celtics have 16 guaranteed contracts on the roster and Ainge must trim that number down to 15 by the start of the regular season. With all of the rookies, including second-round Jordan Mickey, locked up on long-term deals, it's likely going to be a veteran that gets the boot.
Recent trade addition Perry Jones is the favorite to be cut, but his size and athleticism make him a potentially useful piece if he has a strong camp. The team's glut in the backcourt and power forward spot also makes the trade of a veteran a possibility, if Stevens finds Jones is a guy he wants to hold onto.
How will the frontcourt rotation shake out?
Stevens may have more weapons than ever in the frontcourt, but I would not be envious of the decisions the head coaches has in front of him. David Lee and Amir Johnson are the new arrivals, along with Mickey, who may be one of the better big men defenders on the team already. Throw that trio in the mix with Jared Sullinger, Tyler Zeller, Kelly Olynyk, and Jonas Jerebko and you have a packed group of capable bigs with not enough minutes to go around.
The first question that needs to be answered is, who starts? The power forward spot is open with Brandon Bass moving on to the Lakers, but there's no guarantee that Zeller holds onto his starting spot either at center. Some combination of Lee, Johnson and Sullinger are the favorites to win those starting jobs, but you can bet Zeller will put up a fight as well.
The bigger question though will be, who is the odd man out in the rotation? Jerebko's shooting and success last year make him a candidate to see some time at the three, but that still leaves five bigs fighting for minutes most nights. With just 96 minutes to divvy out, it's likely at least one of the bigs mentioned will be watching from the sidelines most games.
With a minimal talent disparity among the entire group, Stevens will have his work cut out for him in evaluating which guy should be the odd man out.
Brian Robb covers the Celtics for CBS Boston and contributes to NBA.com, among other media outlets. You can follow him on Twitter @CelticsHub.
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