With the 2013-2014 NBA season opening tonight, followed by the Boston Celtics playing their first game of the season in Toronto
tomorrow night, it is time to look at this Celtics team and start making some predictions, beginning with the team’s slate of rookies.
How well the rookies on Boston do this season will have a significant impact on where the team winds up in the overall standings. I know, I know – so many people actually wish the Cs would do themselves a favor and play lousy enough to land a sweet pick in next year’s draft. That may happen even if these rookies play better than expected, but I’ll tell you one thing: I’m not going to get down on players like Kelly Olynyk, Phil Pressey, and Vitor Faverani if they help the Celtics become a bit of an over-achieving squad this season . I want to see Boston raise that 18th championship banner as much as any fan, but I want to see the Cs win some games this year, too! Let’s look at the three rookies who could have the biggest effect on how high Boston rises in the power rankings over the course of the season.
The most obvious pick for the rookie who could have the best season and the biggest impact on the success of the Celtics is Kelly Olynyk. While Olynyk is weak on the defensive end of the court, he has provided consistent scoring when he has been given the minutes, averaging nine points and just over four rebounds per game. He was the Celtics’ third-leading scorer during the preseason, totaling 72 points, and is adept at getting out and running the floor in a way that few players his size can. His hustle, speed and size alone will guarantee that he will get a lot of chances to score this season, and I look for him to average about 9 pts. and 3 rebounds per contest.
With Rajon Rondo not expected to return to the hardwood until December, the Celtics will be looking to Avery Bradley or Jordan Crawford to assume the point guard spot in the starting line-up, opening the role of backup point guard to Phil Pressey. Pressey is a speedster who plays tenacious defense, a good sign for someone playing under rookie coach Brad Stevens. His presence was felt all over the court during the preseason games in which he played, as he ran the offense, dished the rock (to the tune of a team-leading 24 assists), stole the ball, and got to the rim with abandon. For someone who was acquired mainly just to fill out the preseason roster, Pressey has impressed. Should he be given some PT, he may continue to do so, to the tune of being designated Rajon Rondo’s back-up.
Then there’s Vitor Faverani. Should Jared Sullinger or Kelly Olynyk struggle with injuries, Faverani might be able to earn enough playing time to make a case for himself. The 25 year-old began his professional basketball career in Spain when he was just 17, and he has already developed a low-post game and the ability to finish with either hand. He’s athletic, as he showed in the Celtics’ final preseason game in which he blocked six shots against the Brooklyn Nets, and he runs the floor. He promises to fill the void left by Kevin Garnett when it comes to running the pick-and-roll, so it could be possible that Rondo’s return results in more minutes for Faverani. He’s a more reliable defender than Olynyk, and Stevens must be considering the possibility of playing the two big men together, since the Cs are a bit of an undersized team. Is it possible Faverani could be the big man that has the better first season?
What do you think – which of these three rookies will have the closest thing to a breakout season for the Boston Celtics? Vote, and chip in with your comments below!