Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Boston Celtics Season Preview 2012-2013
PG Rajon Rondo Avery Bradley
SG Courtney Lee Jason Terry Dionte Christmas
SF Paul Pierce Jeff Green Kris Joseph
PF Brandon Bass Jared Sullinger Chris Wilcox
C Kevin Garnett Darko Milicic Jason Collins Fab Melo
Strengths: Wing depth/versatility, 3-point shooting, mental toughness, off-the dribble shot creation, control of the paint, experience
Weaknesses: Age, low-post scoring, shot blocking,
Outlook: The Celtics were under .500 at early points of last season, their roster had significant flaws and they seemed to be self combusting. That same team rallied towards the end of the season, made the playoffs as a respectable 5th seed and battled their way through to the Eastern Conference Finals where they almost knocked off the heavily favored Miami Heat. The Celtics brought that team into the offseason and gave them a face lift in terms of their youth and versatility on the wings and their depth on the inside. They drafted young bigs Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo and brought in wing studs Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to offset the loss of Ray Allen to the rival Heat. It's unknown how the loss of Allen will effect the Celtics, but judging off some of the articles written about the transaction, Rajon Rondo will probably enter the 2012-2013 season with a greater sense of entitlement as to how much of this team is actually his. And that's a good thing, as Rondo emerged as perhaps this team's best player at the end of last season, and he earned his spot as one of the elite floor generals in the game. The Celtics' success this season will largely ebb and flow as Rondo ebbs and flows, and with their added depth and weapons, that's probably a good thing considering how far he led their banged up 2012 squad. Jason Terry is an underrated pickup for the Celtics, as he was probably the second best player on a championship Dallas squad from just a year and a half ago, and his ageless game combined with Courtney Lee's addition gives the Celtics formidable guard depth for the first time since their 2008 title run. With all that said, and not even mentioning Jeff Green yet, I expect the Celtics to be right back in that title hunt this season.
Unexpected Contributor: Jared Sullinger; Rookie PF: I'm not saying he'll be effective immediately once getting in the league this year. I'm not saying he'll average double figures on the season either. I don't even think he'll start many games this year for Celtics, because if and/or when they suffer some crucial injuries they have shown a willingness to go small with their lineups and with the addition of Jeff Green they'll have greater flexibility in doing so. But with a year under Kevin Garnett, learning from the ropes and effectively entering "big man school" in Boston, well that can't be a bad thing for the development of such a talented low post player such as Sullinger. If the Celtics make an extended playoff run this season, I expect Sullinger to contribute some valuable playoff minutes.
X-Factor: Jeff Green; 6th year SF: The centerpiece of the Kendrick Perkins trade that seemingly submarined the 2011 Celtics season, Green enters the 2013 NBA Season with a lot to prove after missing the previous season with a heart ailment and then immediately signing a 4 year $36 million contract. He's a versatile wing that could defend athletic wings but also play some stretch 4 when needed. The Celts will use Green handily this year in my opinion, if only to show some return on their two large investments on him. Two large investments in the form of that $9 million per season contract and the big kicker: the team morale that went out the door when Kendrick Perkins went out that same door. No pressure.
Final Verdict: 2nd in Eastern Conference, 1st in Atlantic Division