Saturday, August 24, 2013

My contributions to ESPN Boston's "Celtics Summer Forecast" (Part 1)

Chris Forsberg of ESPN Boston has been publishing a two week long series of columns making a number of predictions for the upcoming Celtics season.  He asked several writers from various websites to contribute their thoughts as well, and here is what he's published of mine so far (with links to each article):

Who will be the starting center?:
"Brandon Bass: For two reasons: One, I think Brad Stevens is going to want to run a lot, and will follow the growing NBA trend of using two "bigs" in the frontcourt instead of a real center. I see an opening night starting five of Bass, Sully, Green, Bradley, and Rondo. The other reason for this is that he'll want to show the world that the Celtics are intent on playing hard and winning games; and going with a lineup that carries over from last season is a nice way to remind everybody you still have a talented roster. This may not last for very long however, especially if Olynyk impresses from the beginning."

What are your expectations for 1st round draft pick Kelly Olynyk?:
"A Jared Sullinger-like impact [one of the choices Forsberg offered]: Funny to use the phrase 'Sullinger-like impact,' because that is both what I am hoping for and afraid of. I expect Olynyk to have a lot of big moments that C's fans can get excited about, but this plantar fasciitis has me worried him could miss a fair amount time as well."

When will Rajon Rondo return?:
"Opening Night: I think Rondo desperately wants to prove all the doubters wrong. Time and time again you hear things like, "He's a great talent, but not a guy you'd like to build around." Now that he'll have the opportunity to be the undisputed leader and best player on the Celtics, I expect him to embrace the challenge and flourish in his new role. There's no better way to do that than to return opening night and show that this is his team."

Which player will overachieve?:
"Courtney Lee: I'm way out on a limb with this one, but I think most people have pretty much written off Lee. There were brief moments last season when it looked like he and Bradley were an All-Star-caliber defensive backcourt. If the Celtics choose to run a lot this year (and I believe they will), I envision Lee as a key component in a three-guard rotation with Rondo and Bradley. Maybe he becomes the knockdown shooter the Celtics thought they were getting in 2012."

Which player will underachieve?:
"MarShon Brooks: I'd like to say Gerald Wallace or Kris Humphries, but it's hard to underachieve when you have literally zero expectations. Of the 4 former Nets, Brooks is the only one people in Boston really seem to have anything positive to say about. While he probably has the most long-term potential/upside, I think this year he ends up buried on the bench at the 2-guard spot behind Bradley, Lee, and Crawford."

The series continues all next week, starting on Monday with "Who will emerge as team MVP?"

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