Rebuilding can be a long, arduous journey for teams in the NBA. The Boston Celtics decided to rebuild back when the team traded away legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. Celtics fans continue to wait for a favorable draft pick or superstar to come and help lead the team to a championship in the future.
But while they wait for that, it might be better to look at the roster they have now. Can this team continue to build with its young core? Could this core be the players that turn this franchise back as a title contender?
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ESPN Insider Bradford Doolittle wrote an article predicting which teams’ young core has the best potential to become great (Insider article). Doolittle projected players’ WARP who’d still be under 26 years old in three-years. Doolittle stated how there are a lot of margins for errors, due to how projecting young players is especially difficult to do.
However, with the data he complied, he gave out a list of the best young cores in the league right now. Doolittle ranked Boston fourth in the NBA by his projections (82.7 WARP).
The young core that NBA experts talk about for Boston include “darling” Marcus Smart, Jae Crowder, and Jared Sullinger (the list is Smart, Crowder, Sullinger, Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter, Kelly Olynyk, and Jordan Mickey). Doolittle believes that this core is one of the best that any general manager could have acquired.
According to ESPN’s Brad Doolittle:
"“Everybody is waiting on the Celtics to acquire or develop their next superstar, but in the meantime Danny Ainge has put together one of the deepest rosters of young talent in the league. The talent pool in Boston was made even deeper this summer with the additions of Rozier, Hunter and Jordan Mickey through the draft, and the recent acquisition of Perry Jones III via the trade market”."
These are his words about the potential Boston has, which is something that any fan of the team would tell you (since this rebuild process began). The Celtics do have a mountain of talent on their roster. That’s even without mentioning Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, and David Lee (if he returns to form).
It’s promising to see that this franchise is trying to build through the draft and create a group that could develop some amazing chemistry (chemistry can help win games). However, this could be nothing but wishful thinking for Celtics fans.
The Celtics are essentially trying to do what they did before – when they acquired Kevin Garnett from the Minnesota Timberwolves. Trading away these “valuable” prospects (and maybe draft picks) to gain a superstar. The only problem is, I don’t see another Al Jefferson in any of these young players.
Marcus Smart could develop into a star or another Avery Bradley. However, a player like Bradley doesn’t turn the needle on a huge trade.
People forget while in Boston, Al Jefferson looked like a legit superstar in the making (due to his third year with the team). He averaged 16 points and 11 rebounds at age 22, and was entering his fourth year in the NBA. Teams were salivating to try and pry the big-man away from Boston.
That’s one of the two big reason why Minnesota made a deal with Boston back then. Al Jefferson was a player teams wanted to build around, but I don’t think any teams now want to try and build around a Marcus Smart or Jared Sullinger.
I’ll give Smart three years to develop – like Jefferson, but as of now, he looks like a Avery Bradley more than a Dwyane Wade.
Also, this mainly depends on if you agree with Doolittle or not. This list doesn’t mean that’s how things will play out. It’s based on projections on a bunch of stuff no one can truly know about.
Plus, some could argue that Doolittle isn’t that in-tune with the NBA after making comments like Khris Middleton is a top-10 shooting guard (he really wrote that). That’s honestly nitpicking, but fans should take this list with a grain of salt and treat it as just another tool to project a team’s outlook. It isn’t the only piece of a very tough puzzle to figure out. Sure, the future for Boston does look promising, because of how young their players are. Not to mention the players really like playing for Brad Stevens, who is one of the better coaches in the NBA. But if the players don’t turn out as good as some think they are, then really what do the Celtics have right now?
The Celtics should continue to get better if they play there cards right. I think they have some promising young talent on this roster. While the team doesn’t have a player to build around per say, they have a collective group that can be troubling to beat. Add another year of experience and this team could be a potential playoff team (just like last year).
Plus even if they don’t make the playoffs, they then acquire a lottery first-round pick for their troubles. I’m always a fan of gaining a lottery-pick. That just gives the team another chance to select the future superstar they need.
*All stats courtesy of basketball-reference.com
C.J Maffris is a Boston Celtics writer for Hardwoodhoudini.com. He is hoping that this young Celtics core can turn into an unstoppable machine. Feel free to debate with him on Twitter @SeaJayMaffris