Monday, September 26, 2016
Boston Celtics 2016-17 Season Preview (all you need to know in just over 37 seconds)
Last Year's Record: 48-34 (tied for 3-6 in East)
Key Losses: Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger
Key Additions: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Gerald Green
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason?
Boston pulled off its biggest free-agency splash in team history, inking four-time All-Star Al Horford to a four-year max contract. The C's also selected 19-year-old forward Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 pick in the draft. Evan Turner and Jared Sullinger signed in Portland and Toronto, respectively, but the Celtics did pick up second-year options on Amir Johnson and Jonas Jerebko, while also re-signing Tyler Zeller. In addition, Boston brought back veteran shooting guard Gerald Green on a one-year minimum deal.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths?
If you've been listening to Brad Stevens this offseason, it's evident that he's quite pleased with the ability of his players to "fly around." Stevens has used that expression on multiple occasions when discussing the outlook of his 2016-17 squad. Along those lines, defense and lineup versatility will be how this club wins games. Consider the likely second five of Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Brown, Jerebko and Kelly Olynyk--Smart and Brown can play in the post with Kelly and Jonas drawing opponents' big men out to the three-point line. The defense-first small-ball options available to Stevens are also quite intriguing. Imagine Rozier, Avery Bradley, Smart, Brown and Jae Crowder on the floor together?
3. What is the team's biggest weakness?
When Isaiah Thomas and Horford are out of the game, scoring will be a problem. Boston's bench will miss Turner's ability to get to the rim and create his own shots. However, rebounding is the bigger issue. The Celtics finished 19th in the NBA in rebound percentage last season and their best guy on the boards (Sullinger, 8.3 per game in 23.6 minutes) is now a Raptor. While he is an elite center, attacking the glass is not Horford's strength. He averaged only 7.3 rebounds in 32.1 minutes a night for the Hawks in 2015-16.
4. What are the goals for this team?
On the court, anything short of the No. 2 seed in the East and a Conference Finals berth will have to be considered a disappointment. But, as far as the big picture goes, the C's just want to remain on track to take one more step forward next summer. Thomas and Bradley will be free agents in 2018, so the window with this group could be closing. Ideally the final piece of the puzzle will be added in 2017 to turn the current club into a legitimate title contender.
Vegas set the Celtics' early over/under for wins at 51.5 and most Boston fans are likely expecting a total in the low-to-mid 50s. I'm not convinced the C's are in line for another big improvement in 2016-17. My guess for a regular-season record? 49-33. Since the day Stevens joined the Celtics, he's been a master at doing the most with limited means. However, for the first time his team has real talent and serious expectations. The rest of the league is on to him. Boston isn't going to take anybody by surprise anymore. It's easy to go from bad to good, but from good to great is a much taller task.
posted at 2:20 AM