Well, readers, Sports Illustrated has released its preseason rankings of all 30 NBA teams, and it doesn’t come as too big a surprise that
the Boston Celtics rank among the three worst teams in the Eastern Conference.
To add insult to injury, one NBA scout was quoted by SI as saying
They say they don’t want to tank, but it might happen just by putting this roster out there.
Best case scenario for the Celtics, according to this scout? 30 wins, tops, and a whole lot of trade talk regarding Rajon Rondo, despite Danny Ainge’s insistence that Boston plans on rebuilding around the All-Star point guard.
Clearly, the Celtics are an extreme long-shot to make the playoffs. The team has a rookie head coach and an injured starting point guard; just recently traded its captain, Paul Pierce, and the team’s heart, Kevin Garnett; and has a roster that is more the by-product of trying to unload pieces in order to acquire draft picks than a selection of players who were chosen based on their talent and ability to compliment each other’s playing styles. On paper, this team resembles a jigsaw puzzle where the pieces don’t fit, no matter how hard you try to smash them into place.
Having said that, is there any chance that the Celtics can over-achieve and make a sincere push into the 10th or even 9th spot in the Eastern Conference? (Forget about the question of should they make such a push – I understanding doing so will weaken their chances of drafting in the top five of next year’s draft.) Rondo is still one of the premier point guards in the NBA, and his return alone will make the Celtics a team who will be able to push teams harder than they might like to be pushed. Avery Bradley is able to get to the rim and run the floor, making him a potential favorite target of Rondo on the break. Jeff Green is a solid third option scorer, Gerald Wallace can still jump-start the fast break with his ability to grab loose balls and go, and Phil Pressey is going to earn the respect of an awful lot of people.
It’s true that Boston has a mix of half-court and up-tempo players, rather than a team that is built to play one style of basketball night in and night out. It’s up to Brad Stevens to juggle his lineups effectively and be ready to change his gameplan based on the strengths and weaknesses of his opponents. Will he be able to do so with such a short turnaround between games in the NBA? Stevens is used to having more down time in between games at the college level, so his ability to catch on to the accelerated pace of the NBA will be a huge factor in how quickly this team gels.
What are your thoughts? Can the Boston Celtics surprise some critics and overachieve this season? Or are they destined to be a cellar dweller for the majority of the 2013-2014 campaign? Vote, and let me hear you down below!