Dec 5, 2012; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo (9) and forward Jeff Green (8) rest at center court during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at TD Banknorth Garden. The Boston Celtics won 104-94. Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

How Good will the Boston Celtics be Next Season?

The Boston Celtics are going into their first season without Paul Pierce since he was drafted and their first season without Kevin Garnett since their inaugural championship season.

Rajon Rondo is officially the best player on the team and its really unknown who his second fiddle is going to be on the roster. This roster is filled with some decent to good players who could use some improvement to turn into really good ones.

Guys like Jeff Green, Jared Sullinger and Courtney Lee are still on this team. They all have been decent in the past–whether it was last season or season’s prior–and will be looking to have good seasons next year.

And that brings the question to mind, how good, or bad, will the Celtics be next season? Under new head coach Brad Stevens, the Celtics will still have a defense first approach and should remain stout on that end.

There are a few more questions, that when answered, will give us a solid foundation to know how good Boston will be next season. Those questions are listed as follows:

How good will Rajon Rondo be?

Rondo has been the key to this team being productive for the past few seasons. Unlike a lot of other aspects of this team, that hasn’t changed so far. There’s still a possibility that he’s moved, but it hasn’t happened just yet. And if he isn’t, he’s going to be the foundation for this team even more so than he was in year’s past.

Rondo is a pass first, defensive point guard. The defensive part of his game took a drop last season as he became more of a factor on the offensive end. There were more lapses from Rondo than the norm. This could be because of the high volume of minutes that he played and how much he had to do on the offensive end for the Celtics.

Its very hard to play full force at both ends of the floor at all times. We saw that last season when Rondo was less attentive on that end than. He posted a career low 103 defensive rating. That’s a mark he’s hit three other times before. Each year after he made improvement on that end. Even though 103 isn’t a bad total, it isn’t the Rondo that we’re used to.

I don’t think Rondo will lead the league in assists for a third consecutive season. The offensive talent on this team is too few and far between for him to do that. I think we’ll see the impact of losing Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett here. Rondo will need to increase his scoring output and if that happens, we can expect a drop in assists.

Its really impossible to gauge exactly what Rondo will do because we’ve never seen him in this situation before. He’s never had to carry a team–just play a role as the fulcrum. This is new territory for him just as it is for the rest of us.

Which Jeff Green will we see?

Jeff Green’s career has been marred with inconsistent play. He’s been in great situations with both the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Boston Celtics. In each situation, though, he’s really struggled to find his niche. He had a pretty good start to his career with the Thunder, but then once James Harden came on they lost a place for him.

Once he was traded to the Boston Celtics, his performances for the team were underwhelming. When Danny Ainge chose to give him a lucrative deal after his inconsistency and an open heart surgery, it looked like he was out of his mind.

Last season it took Green a while, but I’d say he played well enough in the latter half of the season to make up for his prior play. After the All-Star break, Green averaged 17.3 points on 12.9 shots. He averaged 5.0 rebounds per game and shot 49% from the field.

Green had monster 30+ point game performances against the Detroit Pistons and the Phoenix Suns last season. He also had a career performance against the Miami Heat when scoring 43 points in an attempt to end the Miami winning streak.

Depending on which Green shows up to play for Boston next season, the team can be a good one. A core of this version of Green and Rondo would not be a bad start to a new era in Boston. However, the sample size of his stellar play was still small and we’ll need to see a bit more before we can comfortably say that this is what we should expect from Green.

What will the New Additions Bring to the Table?

The new additions are going to be critical if the Celtics are looking to succeed. Gerald Wallace, Kris Humpries, Keith Bogans and Marshon Brooks are going to have to step into their roles and produce right away.

The Celtics will need Gerald Wallace to play the way that he did when he was an All-Star in Charlotte. Kris Humphries would have to be focused on basketball and not his life outside of it. If he does that, he’s more than a decent rebounder. That’s a skill that the Celtics have been lacking for the last few seasons. Marshon Brooks will get a chance to show what he can do and claw his way into the Celtics rotation as a scorer.

Brooks will have to increase his defensive output, no doubt. Right now, he’s the third shooting guard on the depth chart likely behind Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford. He’ll get a shot at proving himself during training camp, but the only thing that will make him stand out is what he brings to the table defensively. If its good, he’ll play big minutes. If its bad, maybe not so much.

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The Boston Celtics have  a lot of players on this team that can collectively make an impact. If they play together as a team, they may vie for a bottom three seed in the East. I don’t think that this unit can collectively be as good as advertised, but we’ll see.

Hopefully they’re either really good or really bad. For them to be a middling team with next year’s draft class coming in would not be a good thing. We’ll see how things turn out for the C’s.

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Tags: Boston Celtics Brad Stevens Gerald Wallace Jeff Green Keith Bogans Kris Humphries Marshon Brooks NBA Rajon Rondo

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