Small Ball 2016-17 Season Previews: Boston Celtics

Boston Celtics
48-34

Additions: Al Horford, Gerald Green
Departures: Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger

General Manager Danny Ainge and Owner Wyc Grousbeck had some tough decisions to make going forward with where they wanted to go with the future of this Celtics’ team. The Celtics could be a serious title contender for multiple upcoming years going forward if they play their cards right. So far through the draft, the Celtics haven’t gotten anyone that could be a cornerstone of their franchise over the past two years. In the 2016 Draft, the Celtics took Jaylen Brown, Guerschon Yabusele, Ante Zizic, Demetrius Jackson, Ben Bentil and Abdel Nadar. They took Brown with the #3 pick and Yabu with the #16 pick, where they hope Brown can be that cornerstone of their franchise, and  Yabu will play overseas this year. Brown was awesome in the summer league where he basically outplayed everyone he played against; averaging 16 PPG, 6.2 RPG and 2.8 SPG. Going forward, if he can work on his shot he may just be the guy that the Celtics were looking for, and they can silence the Celtics fans who were booing when they drafted Jaylen instead of trading the pick. It’s not known yet who of their drafted players will make the roster, but you can bet on Brown being there. But as for the team they have now?

Returning Players: Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Isaiah Thomas, Kelly Olynyk, RJ Hunter, Marcus Smart, Jonas Jerebko, Terry Rozier, Jordan Mickey, James Young, Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller.

After missing out on the  Kevin Durant sweepstakes, the Celtics can at least be happy with the fact they got big man Al Horford. Horford is a leader and an offensive stud, but to this young Celtics team his veteran presence will come into play very quickly.

G- The guard play from the Celtics is by far their strongest part of their team, apart from their defense. The Celtics have one of those great 1-2 duos in Isaiah Thomas and Avery Bradley. Thomas is more of the scorer, averaging 22.2 PPG, 6.2 APG, and 3.0 RPG last year; whereas Bradley averaged 15.2 PPG, 2.1 APG and 2.9 RPG, and is more of the defensive guy. Thomas was an All-Star guard last year, and Bradley was first team all-defense. Isaiah was the leading scorer for the Celtics last year, and he can score in a variety of ways.

Losing Evan Turner is going to be a gap that their bench guys will have to fill. The Celtics do have a lot of depth in the backcourt with players like Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart, but losing Turner is not going to be that easy to replace because he was a playmaker.

 

F/C- I personally believe that Jae Crowder is one of the most underrated players in the league. He is very good on the defensive end and he really stepped up his offensive game last season. He has the ability to cover multiple positions and he is very versatile. The Celtics are returning Olynyk, Jerebko, Johnson, and Zeller. The team has added Horford and Green (who should be able to add some quick scoring off the bench). Horford is the addition that should push the Celtics to the next level. He can strech the floor, play the four or the five, and he can protect the rim. It will be interesting to see who starts alongside Horford, will it be Johnson or will be Olynyk to add some three point shooting.

The Celtics are going to have one of the best starting lineups in the Eastern Conference and if they can get enough production from their bench, they are going to be a tough team to beat this year.

Overall

The Celtics  got better with the addition of Al Horford, plain and simple. Losing guys like Evan Turner off the bench will be tough, but the Celtics have options to try and fill the void. Jae Crowder said earlier this summer that the expectations are the Eastern Conference Finals. Obviously you can’t say it’s the finals because you have to get by LeBron first; who is basically like a Finals series himself. But I think if the Celtics can make a playoff run this year and show teams Boston is the place to go to after Horford laid down the pathway to the Beantown; the future of the Celtics could be very bright.

Prediction: 55-27

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