Jeff Clark from CelticsBlog is organizing a series of season previews for all the teams in the NBA. Today, the series starts with our Boston Celtics, so here is Truth On Causeway’s season preview.
Team Name: Boston Celtics
Last Year’s Record: 41-40
Key Losses: Doc Rivers, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jason Terry, Shavlik Randolph
Key Additions: Brad Stevens, Kelly Olynyk, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Vitor Faverani
1. What Significant Moves were made during the off-season?
The question here should be: what significant moves were not made in the off-season? And the answer to that would be trading Rondo. Everything else was significant. The Celtics let Doc Rivers go to the LA Clippers in exchange for a 2015 un-protected first round pick. Doc was replaced with former Butler head coach, Brad Stevens, who is only 36 years old, has no NBA experience, but brings a ton of promise and hope with him. Then, our captain, the heart and soul of the team, was traded away. Pierce and Garnett (along with Terry) were moved to Brooklyn in exchange for 3 future un-protected first rounders, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, and Keith Bogans. Finally, Danny Ainge traded up on draft night to select Gonzaga’s big man, Kelly Olynyk, who is currently ranked as the top rookie heading into the preseason. This was a franchise changing off-season; the rebuilding era is on its way and Danny Ainge started it off on the right foot. We’ll just have to wait and see what else he has up his sleeve.
2. What are the team’s biggest strengths?
Youth. This team is a very young bunch, but one that has tons of time to develop and the skills to do it. With another youngster (Stevens) at the helm, youth might just be this team’s biggest strength. If you see young guys as assets or building blocks for the future, them being in the early stages of their careers is very important for the team. Also, the Celtics might finally turn into a running team with all of the youth they have. After having watched the often-stagnant half court Rivers offense for so long, watching a more loose fastbreak game should be fun. If Brad Stevens figures out how to make them run correctly and efficiently, the team might pile up more wins than expected (that’s still not much).
3. What are the team’s biggest weaknesses?
It has to be scoring. Going from having Pierce in charge of the scoring load with KG and Terry there to help, to having Jeff Green with Kelly Olynyk and MarShon Brooks there to help is a big time downgrade. With Rondo out for the start of the season, things on the offensive end will get ugly quick. And even when he returns, there just aren’t that many scoring options. We know Green can score, but with defenses preparing themselves for him, will he be all that productive? We know Olynyk is very skilled offensively, but will he be able to score against tougher, stronger, and more athletic NBA guys? We know Sullinger was a beast on the post in college, but how will he do in the NBA? Is MarSon Brooks just another bad shot taker or can he score the ball efficiently? We’ll have the answers to these questions as the season goes, but as of now, the Celtics on the offensive end will not be pretty.
An honorable mention goes to defense. The C’s don’t have anyone down low that you could call a stopper. The one closest to that the Celtics had was Fab Melo, and he was so bad the team paid money to get rid of him.
4. What are the goals for this team?
I’m quoting Brad Stevens here: “embracing the process of growth.” For the first time in six years, the Boston Celtics’ goal is not a championship. As we enter the rebuilding process, the goal will be to establish Stevens’ system, see who fits in and who doesn’t, and get the process going. Brad Stevens really summarized this season’s main objective perfectly in that phrase, there’s not much more to say about that.
5. Can the Celtics become a scary team?
The idea of the Celtics being a team nobody wants to face is intriguing, at the very least. The Celtics are clearly not the most talented bunch and they’re probably not going to the playoffs, but they are the Celtics after all. With Stevens in command and seeing what he did with Butler, I cannot throw out the idea down the window. I do not see a player other than Rondo that could scare other teams, but if they all play together and with grit, they might become that crappy team that’s just a pain in the butt to play against. The style of grind that fits Avery, Sullinger, Rondo, and apparently Stevens, could lead to this, but as of now I really don’t think it’s going to happen. The Celts are going to be bad, they’re going to scare no one, but they’re going to be fun if you don’t expect huge things from them out of the gate.