Monday, September 30, 2013
9/30/2013 04:31:00 PM | Posted by Jacob Noble | Edit Post
The tide has finally turned over for the Boston Celtics. It started slowly after holding onto title dreams, the Celtics fought some hard battles in the Conference Finals against the eventual NBA Champion. This summer Danny Ainge departed with Doc Rivers, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, leaving the team in Rajon Rondo’s hands as they move toward the future.
Danny acquired tons of draft picks, a couple expiring contracts and one big contract (3yrs-$30mil for Gerald Wallace) in exchange for the 66% of the Big Three and Doc Rivers. Looking to rebuild the roster through the draft and potential trades available, the expectations for the 2013-2014 Celtics are low. Rajon Rondo will be late to start the season as he recovers from his ACL injury he suffered last January.
Additions: Kelly Olynyk, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Vitor Faverani, Phil Pressey
Subtractions: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Fab Melo, D.J. White
The style of play that Stevens will incorporate with the Celtics still remains a mystery. An advanced stat nerd, Stevens is known for spending as much time analyzing advance stats as he does watching film on opponents. He reviews each play that teams run in the NBA finding reasoning behind the opponent’s decision to run that particular play.
"Win the next game. Win the next possession. That's our focus. It's boring. It's also the way championships are won" – Brad Stevens
Being a young coach can either hurt or help Stevens depending on the team. The one thing for certain is that Stevens will have to show and give respect to his players before he earns it. There is a lot of new to this team. First time for Rondo playing without All Stars and first time coaching professionals for Stevens. The Celtics have the option to surprise everyone if their talent can come together. The biggest factors for the Celtics heading into the season are Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo, when he returns.
By now you should know the Jeff Green story. Traded to Boston for Kendrick Perkins, afraid to step on anyone’s toes and has a poor showing to start his time in Boston because of it. He ends up having season ending heart surgery. Comes back to put up his best per 36 minute statistics of his career. After Rajon Rondo went down, Green took over and had an impressive end to the season. He put up 7 games in the last month of basketball of 20 or more points, including a 43-point game. There is a lot of optimism for Jeff Green this year that he can continue his development and take that next step that many thought he was capable of coming out of Georgetown.
One player I have never seen so highly regarded and so lowly regarded all at the same time. There seems to be two schools of thought with Avery, one that he is the best defensive player in the league and is going to be a remarkable NBA player. The other side thinks that he was a product of the Celtics style of defense and is a subpar offensive player to last in this league. It’s kind of polar opposites but I tend to lean on the first side. I think his defensive ability is superior, despite Matt Moore’s constant complaining that Bradley gets away with holds. The young player (only 22 years old) is already in the top 5-10 percentile for defensive players in the league, a side of the ball that hasn’t been taught to many, according to Amar’e Stoudemire. Avery without a doubt lacks the ability to create his own shot or even be a top three scorer on any team. But when you get talent around him, he ends up being a great asset on the team who can only hope to improve and refine his offensive game for his prime. It won’t be easy for him, especially trying to fill in for Rondo early on but Bradley will have plenty of chances to grow under the Celtics.
Saving the best for last, the entire Celtics success, as least in the short term, relies on Rajon Rondo’s health and commitment to the system and his teammates. I sit on the side that doesn’t think Rondo deserves the reputation he has. The media doesn’t like him because he doesn’t like the media. Many write stories about his character based on second hand stories or seeing his competitive nature on the court. I always tell people to judge a person by what their peers say. You’ll never hear a teammate (besides Ray Allen) bad mouth Rajon. You never hear the stories about how he called Avery Bradley every single day when Bradley was assigned to the D-League. I think first and foremost, Rajon wants to win. Being older and matured now, I think he has learned how to get his teammates to buy into him and what he thinks is best. In a way, Rajon has learned to become a coach and I expect him to coach his teammates to improve and grow as a unit. Hopefully for the fans sake, Rajon Rondo can return to the line up sooner rather than later.
Most Exciting Player To Watch: Kelly Olynyk
Did you think we would do an entire season preview and not mention the rookie phenom who took the summer league by storm? The ability to have a scoring big man is rare in the NBA. Kelly will get plenty of time to harness his tools and become a productive NBA player. He has all the physical tools and we have seen the kid play hard every day at every level. I think expectations might have gone a little too high based on the franchise being the Celtics and his impressive summer league. Rookies will always have a larger learning curve but being with a first time NBA head coach might help the transition become a little smoother.
Prediction: 35-40 wins.
I don’t have high expectations for this season like many. If Rajon was going to play all 82 games, I could see them sneaking in the 7th or 8th seed of the Eastern Conference. Danny has a dilemma, do you try to win games and hope your team overachieves, giving the young guys more playoff experience or do you sit Rondo out as long as you can to lose as many games for the infamous Tank for Wiggins sweepstakes? These are the questions Danny will have to face daily next season. I am sure he will hear all about his options on sports radio and during press conferences. I have a feeling Danny will be looking to buy some all-star talent to put next to Rajon Rondo in the near future.