It’s the end of an era for the Boston Celtics. It’s crazy to think that Isaiah Thomas had only been with the team for 2 1/2 years, but he became the heart of soul of those squads. I guess it all makes sense when you realize that IT is only 5′ 9″ 185 pounds and was Mr. Irrelevant in the 2011 NBA Draft. Always bringing the business, irrespective of the social construct of time and making us question the E=MC Squared equation because the energy does not seem to be interchangeable with his mass.
Got nothing but love for you IT. With that said, the NBA is a business. Here’s something for you to ponder. As I sit in this chair writing, it always pisses me off that there are salary caps in professional sports. Do we not live in a free, capitalistic meritocracy? Why is there a limit on the amount of money a player can make? Now, if I actually owned a NBA team….SALARY CAP!!! Why? Because it makes the most business sense. It’s a doggy dog world out there and cute, cuddly emotions are reserved for when you get home. The Celtics made a bunch of business decisions this offseason. As much as I love IT, it’s a move that was in the best interest of the team going forward.
2016 record: 53-29
- Jayson Tatum via draft
- Marcus Morris via trade
- Gordon Hayward via free agency
- Kyrie Irving via trade
- Semi Ojeleye via draft
- Aron Baynes via free agency
- Isaiah Thomas via trade
- Jae Crowder via trade
- Ante Zizic via trade
- Jonas Jerebko renounced
- Gerald Green renounced
- Avery Bradley via trade
- Kelly Olynyk via free agency
- Tyler Zeller via free agency
- Amir Johnson via free agency
The offense should be one of the best in the league. It’s going to be fun watching Brad Stevens conduct this orchestra. The questions will be on the defensive side of the ball and rebounding. The front court depth is non-existent, but that probably means more small ball lineups. There also seems to be a lack of toughness on this squad. Marcus Morris’ twin brother, Markieff, brought Death Row DC to the Washington Wizards. If you’re a Celtics fan, you have to hope for a little osmosis happening. Top 3 team in the East with a good chance of ending up as the #1 seed.
PG – Kyrie Irving replaces Isaiah Thomas. I get that many are thinking that he puts up the 19 shots a game as IT did and have a 34% usage rate. That’s definitely within the range of outcomes. I have a slightly different take, though. Irving is going to get usage. No doubt, but I think it’s closer to 28-30%, as this team has so many other options of offense. In addition, I think there will be more movement and passing in this offense, so I can see an increase in assists, a decrease in shot attempts, but an increase in shooting efficiency. 16 shots per game instead of the 19 with more open looks. Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier are behind Kyrie on the depth chart. Smart is going to play a ton of minutes, primarily because of his size, versatility, and defense. He will probably play both the 1 and 2 and receive around 30 mpg. He doesn’t shoot the three-ball particularly well (28% last season), but he’s going to get looks and made around one per game on four attempts. Smart will grab some boards, dish out close to four dimes (a sneaky commodity), and get 1.5 steals per game. Pretty valuable in both real life and fantasy. Rozier doesn’t shoot that well, but he will grab some boards and dish out some dimes IF he gets minutes, which is a possibility with how the depth chart looks right now.
SG – Much is expected from Jaylen Brown it seems. The Celtics were unwilling to include him in any trade packages and he looks to fill the void left by Avery Bradley. He shoots pretty well from the field, is very athletic and thrives in transition, will help out on the glass, and could get more steals as he receives more minutes. It’s hard to envision a scenario in which he doesn’t get close to 30 mpg. Abdel Nader is behind Brown, but he may actually be behind Smart. We shall see how it all plays out. Nader has size at 6′ 6″ 225 pounds and can shoot. He’s a 3-and-D player, but it’s going to be tough for him to crack the roation unless he really impresses.
SF – Gordon Hayward seems to be an underrated player. Really, the only thing he doesn’t contribute much in is blocks. Shoots close to 40% from three-land, will grab boards, rack up assist, and pilfer one a game. Plus, he’s a bonafide scorer. He’s reunited with his college coach, which is going to be a boon for him. They both know each other well intimately. No, not like that, but Stevens knows the strengths and weaknesses of Hayward’s game and Hayward knows how Stevens thinks. Hayward is the reason why I think Kyrie’s usage doesn’t get to the IT level. It’s also been mentioned that Hayward could play multiple positions: at the 2 and even at the 4 in small ball lineups. Juicy. Rookie Jayson Tatum is behind Hayward. He proved he can score in the Summer League. Granted, it was the Summer League but he displayed a bevy of mature moves. With that said, Donovan Mitchell was able to lock him up, so we have to see how he reacts to the athleticism and length he’s going to go up against night in and night out. I’m thinking he fills the “microwave” role for the Celtics. Instant offense for the second unit. Semi Ojeleye is third on the depth chart. He’s been getting high remarks for his defense, but he may just be a specialist early on. Hard to envision too many minutes for him.
PF – Marcus Morris is a nice fit for this team, as he’s a big man that can shoot the ball from three-land. The issues are that he’s not a great rebounding or defender. There’s also an assault trial that he and his brother are currently in. It sounds like he won’t be found guilty, but if he is, then he’d be suspended a minimum of 10 games by the NBA and there could be jail time. Guerschon Yabusele is behind Morris. He was the Celtics first round pick in last year’s draft. He’s 6′ 8″ 260 pounds and was considered one of the best international prospects last year. The Celtics are super thin at power forward, but they may just play a ton more small ball.
C – Al Horford also fits this team well, as he can also shoot the three-ball well (35%). He also racks up assists from the center position. He’s not elite in blocks and rebounds, but he does pull down around seven boards per game and close to 1.3 blocks per game. He also shoots 80% from the free throw line. I’ve noticed that Horford seems to be the last in the center tier before there’s a huge drop off. Aron Baynes will back up Horford. He doesn’t shoot the three, but he is an 80% free throw shooter. He should bring some toughness and rebounding to a team that desperately needs some.