ESPN.com's Chris Forsberg put together a Celtics Summer Forecast in which he asked local writers/bloggers to make a series of predictions regarding the 2016-17 team. Here are my contributions for Week 2 (with links to the full articles):
How many All-Stars will the Celtics have next year, and who?
Two, Al Horford and Isaiah Thomas:
In each of the past two seasons, the No. 2 team in the East had a pair of All-Stars. DeMar DeRozan and Lowry for Toronto last season, and LeBron James and Kyrie Irving for the Cavaliers in 2014-15. Horford and Thomas should continue that trend for the Celtics in 2016-17. Along with three Heat squads featuring LeBron, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, and the 2012-13 Knicks with Carmelo Anthony and Tyson Chandler, every second-place finisher in the East has had at least two All-Stars dating to 2009-10 (when Dwight Howard was the Magic's only representative).
Which star player should the Celtics pursue next?
We already know Millsap and Horford are a good combination. Millsap can be a free agent next summer (he has a 2017-18 player option for $21.5 million), but he might also be available at the deadline. I'm betting on the Hawks continuing to regress with Dwight Howard supplanting Horford and Jeff Teague now in Indiana. If Atlanta stumbles toward mediocrity, why not move the 31-year-old Millsap while he still has value?
Who will be the biggest overachiever on the 2016-17 squad?
Green will enter training camp battling for a roster spot, but he's the kind of reclamation project who can excel under [Brad] Stevens -- just ask [Jordan] Crawford and [Evan] Turner. My guess is Stevens' natural tendency to fight tooth and nail for every victory might lead him to give consistent minutes to the veteran Green rather than young guys like [Terry] Rozier or [Jaylen] Brown.
How can a 22-year-old second-round draft pick be labeled an underachiever in his sophomore season? I think there's a large contingent of Celtics fans who legitimately expect Mickey to make an impact next season, and I just don't see how it can happen. He'll likely be in the 13-15 range on the team depth chart and will probably see more minutes in Maine than he does in Boston.
What are you most excited about with this team?
Endless lineup possibilities:
With the potential to go 12 or 13 men deep if he wants to, Stevens will have the opportunity to trot out a limitless array of lineups and just get nuts. For example, a likely second five of Rozier, [Marcus] Smart, Brown, Jonas Jerebko and [Kelly] Olynyk could play with both big men on the perimeter and a shooting guard and small forward posting up under the basket. Or how about an all-defense small-ball unit of Rozier, Avery Bradley, Smart, Brown, and Jae Crowder? I can't wait to see how Stevens takes advantage of all the options at his disposal.