Monday, August 31, 2015

Contributing to ESPN Boston's 2015 Celtics Summer Forecast (Part 2)

Once again, I've been asked to contribute to ESPN Boston's Celtics Summer Forecast, in which a panel of bloggers make various predictions about the upcoming season.  Here's the second round of questions, with my answers quoted from the site (click on the links for the full articles and other writers' prognostications):

Which rookie will have the biggest impact: Terry Rozier, R.J. Hunter or Jordan Mickey?

(Rozier): "Hunter could carve out a role as a 3-point specialist, while Mickey might earn minutes as a hard-working rebounder and shot blocker. It'll be a more difficult path for Rozier, who on paper seems somewhat redundant to Smart and Bradley. But the C's reached on Rozier in the draft for a reason, and he showed glimpses of impact potential in summer league. Rozier likely will be the first rookie given a chance to play on a regular basis, an opportunity I expect him to take advantage of."

Which Celtic is most likely to be an All-Star in 2015-16?

(Marcus Smart): "The chances are extremely low that any Celtics player will be an All-Star but, if forced to pick one, I'll go out on a limb and say Smart. He already plays All-Star defense, and he was working hard on his jumper this summer before dislocating his fingers. If Smart is the starting point guard and becomes the leader of a spunky overachieving team, I could see him making the All-Star squad. Kyle Lowry (Raptors) and Jeff Teague (Hawks) both represented the East at point guard under similar circumstances last year."

Who on the Celtics is most likely to have a breakout season?

(James Young): "I like both Smart and [Jae] Crowder as options here (although Crowder may have already had his breakout year in 2014-15), but I'm going with Young simply because it won't take much for him to overachieve. After his basically non-existent rookie season, many Celtics fans seem to have already given up on him. We forget how "young" he really is though -- he just turned 20 this month and is still the youngest player on Boston's roster."

Which Celtics player will be the biggest underachiever this year?

(Avery Bradley): "Sometimes I wonder whether Bradley peaked as a basketball player in the spring of 2012 (when he stole the starting shooting guard spot from Ray Allen). Even though he's only 24 years old, Bradley is the longest-tenured Celtic and it feels as though he's been around forever. His reputation as one of the fiercest on-ball defenders in the league is slipping away. Young, Terry Rozier and R.J. Hunter will all be fighting for minutes in the backcourt this season -- it seems a lot more likely that their playing time will come at the expense of Bradley rather than Marcus Smart or Isaiah Thomas."

Tyler Zeller, Jared Sullinger and Perry Jones are eligible for contract extensions. Who, if any, will get one?

(None): "The one constant in Ainge's current rebuilding strategy is that he always makes sure to keep his options open. I doubt he views Sullinger, Zeller or Jones as essential pieces of the puzzle. Nor do I believe Ainge is afraid any of them will play so well this season that he'll be forced to overpay for their services later. Boston has only about $26 million in guaranteed salary after this season, something Ainge is likely quite proud of."

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