With training camp right around the corner, Hardwood Houdini is excited to get back to work for another wonderful basketball season. To warm you up to the season’s return, the staff will be previewing the Atlantic Division. First team up: Your own Boston Celtics.
Who will be the MVP for the Celtics this season?
Michael Sykes: I’ll take Kelly Olynyk here and this is why: He’s going to be the best Celtics player to play 82 games this season. Offensively, Olynyk should have a huge impact on what the Celtics do. It looks like they’ll be going with a transition attack and Olynyk is very good at carving out space in the paint during the break. He’ll play his part—the only question is whether or not the guards can get him the ball. And that brings me to why I didn’t pick Rajon Rondo here. I think that if he weren’t coming off of an ACL surgery in a tanking year he’d be a lock for this. But we have no clue when he’ll come back—at worst he won’t play at all next season. So since that is the case, Olynyk seemed like the best choice here.
Trey Adell: Jeff Green. This is largely dependent on if Rondo misses a large chunk of the season. When healthy, I don’t think there is any denying that Rondo is the most important player on this squad but with him coming off the ACL injury it’s hard to target what the impact of his return will be. Green will slide into the primary scoring role and most likely be the only consistent offensive threat. On a team filled with unknown certainties, Green seems to be the most aware of his abilities and role.
What player on the Celtics will overachieve this season?
Sykes: I’ll go with Kris Humphries. It just seems like things are pretty much set up for him to succeed this season. Depending on how training camp goes, he could win a starting position in a battle with Brandon Bass and Kelly Olynyk. I can see Olynyk starting in either case at either big position, but Humprhies could bring the quality rebounding that the Celtics really lack in any other big. And in a contract season, I expect him to perform big—whether he play for the Celtics or another team next season.
Adell: Kelly Olynyk. Olynyk is in the perfect position for a rookie who needs to prove he’s an NBA level forward. He could easily start right away should he win the Center/Power Forward battle between him, Sullinger, Humphries and Bass and I think with the right amount of minutes he could definitely thrive in that role.
What player on the Celtics will underachieve this season?
Sykes: I’ll go with Avery Bradley here. I think that he’s going to be asked to play out of his element. I don’t see him as too much of an offensive threat outside of slashing and spotting up for three point shots in the corner. When asked to play heavy doses of point guard last season, Bradley under-performed significantly. And with his offensive burden increasing, his defensive impact took a toll as well. That’s why I think he’ll have a drop off on both ends until Rondo returns.
Adell: I think this has to be Avery Bradley. Much like last year he’ll be counted on to handle the ball more than usual without a healthy point guard on the roster. His cutting to the basket will be minimized and his spot up shooting will be hard to come by. He’ll still make a significant impact on defense but it still will hurt to have him playing point guard.
How much of an impact will Kelly Olynyk have on the Celtics roster?
Sykes: I think Olynyk will likely win Rookie of the Year this season. The Celtics may not be a very good team, but Olynyk is going to be asked to show what he can do so the Celtics can figure out whether or not he’s a cornerstone of their future. He’ll get a bunch of touches in the break and will be leaned on heavily to create from the post in the halfcourt until Rondo returns. I don’t think that it’s too farfetched to say that Olynyk has a chance to be the Celtics most efficient and effective offensive weapon this season. We’ll see how that turns out though.
Adell: It all depends on how much playing time he receives. He has the skill to be a top 5 Rookie with a starting role and at least 20-25 minutes per game. His combination of size and shooting ability will definitely lend to more efficiency on offense but that also depends on if Stevens decides to make shooting more 3s a priority. Playing with a true point guard will also help his development as a potential deadly pick-and-pop big. I think it’s definitely a possibility for him to win ROY but more likely that he’s just a 1st team All Rookie selection.
Should the Celtics trade Rajon Rondo or leave him on the team for the future?
Sykes: I don’t really see any merit in trading him. He’s going to be a key piece to the Celtics rebuild going forward. He may not be a top tier superstar, but he’s enough of a star to win you some games and attract future free agents to Boston. And without him, there is never a guarantee that you will get a high draft pick in the lottery. That’s why I think, unless the deal is really sweet, the Celtics keep Rondo around for at least another season.
Adell: I have yet to see any logical reasoning to trading Rondo unless for financial reasons. From a Basketball perspective Rondo is still an all star and he’s still one of the top point guards in the league. Unless Danny Ainge gets offered a huge haul for Rondo there’s no real need to trade the only star this team has.
How will the Celtics’ season finish?
Sykes: It’ll be ugly. The Celtics may not see Rajon Rondo until the next calendar year, and if that is the case they’ll be leaning heavily on a rookie, new additions, and undrafted free agents. I don’t think there is any way that this team gets over 10th place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll likely finish last in the Atlantic division and that is more than likely being generous. I’m thinking that Rondo comes back sooner rather than later and they finish with a record of 24-58.
Adell: I think this team’s ceiling is a 12th seed in the East. I’ll be very surprised if this team passes the 30 win mark in a somewhat improved Atlantic Division. The defense will be most likely be in the bottom ten, with the offense being mediocre as well. It also doesn’t help to have a Rookie NBA Coach at the helm. Without Rondo for the foreseeable future this team will be lucky to be considered mediocre.
So there you have it, our season preview for the 2013-14 Celtics. If you don’t believe us, you can see for yourself by purchasing Celtics tickets to any home game this year. Save up to 50% off select games and you can watch Rondo and company live this season at the Garden.