Boston Celtics: 2013-14 NBA Preview

2012-13 Vitals

41-40, 3rd in the Atlantic Division, 7th in the Eastern Conference
Lost in the first round to the New York Knicks (2-4)
96.5ppg/96.7opp ppg 

Boston Celtics

2013-14 Roster

Brandon Bass – PF
Keith Bogans – SG/SF
Avery Bradley – SG
MarShon Brooks – SG
Jordan Crawford – SG
Vitor Faverani – C
Jeff Green – SF
Donte Greene – PF
Kris Humphries – PF
Courtney Lee – SG
Kelly Olynyk – PF
Phil Pressey – PG
Rajon Rondo – PG
Jared Sullinger – PF
Gerald Wallace – SF

Off-season additions:

Brad Stevens (Coach – Butler, NCAA), Keith Bogans (trade), MarShon Brooks (trade), Vitor Faverani (free agent), Donte Greene (trade), Kris Humphries (trade), Kelly Olynyk (draft), Phil Pressey (free agent), Gerald Wallace (trade)

Off-season subtractions:

Kevin Garnett, Fab Melo, Paul Pierce, Shavlik Randolph, coach Doc Rivers, Jason Terry, D.J. White, Chris Wilcox, Terrence Williams

Rajon Rondo

The Celtics are now Rajon Rondo’s team. Photo Credit: Mark Runyon, Basketball Schedule

Projected Starters:

PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley
SF: Jeff Green
PF: Jared Sullinger
C: Kris Humphries

Season Outlook:

General manager Danny Ainge pulled the trigger on a huge clear out in Boston this offseason. After a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs, Ainge decided that his veteran squad could no longer compete for a championship and has started to rebuild the Celtics around a collection of youth and draft picks. Coach Doc Rivers was the first to go, heading to the Los Angeles Clippers in exchange for a first-round draft pick; however, it was the departure of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets that was the toughest pill for fans to swallow. Since the arrival of Garnett in 2007, the Celtics have been a perennial contender for the championship, one of the toughest, most experienced teams in the entire league and now one of the East’s fiercest teams is likely to be out of the playoff picture.

A new coach, Brad Stevens, was appointed straight from his role at Butler in the NCAA. The transition from the college ranks to the NBA has traditionally been an unsuccessful one, but the hire of Stevens was met with near unanimous praise from media members and league personalities alike. Stevens will have his work cut out for him as he tries to develop a system, a relationship with his players and earn respect around the league.

All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo remains; however, he is coming off a season-ending knee injury and there are doubts whether he will be ready in time for opening day. Similar questions cloud second-year forward Jared Sullinger, who was shut down last season due to a back injury. Both are keys to the Celtics’ success this season and either missing significant time could end the Celtics season before it has a chance to really begin. Veteran acquisitions like Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries will be hoping to rebound after disappointing seasons in 2012-13 and Ainge will be hoping both can do so in order to raise their trade value.

The goal is obviously to rebuild and no one in their right mind would think the Celtics will be any threat to the top teams with the roster they have assembled. The big question, however, is whether Ainge and Stevens want to squeeze every possible win they can from the talent they have assembled or whether they are happy to play the young guys, boost the trade value of their players and aim to have a top pick in the loaded 2014 draft class. If a big name star becomes available via trade, Ainge will also have the option of putting together a tremendous package and try to speed up the rebuild around Rondo. With so many questions to answer and so many options for Ainge and Co. going into the season, this season in Boston will be nothing if not interesting to watch. Danny Ainge has shown the willingness in the past to tank a season for a high draft pick, to pull off blockbuster trades and put together championship caliber squads. No option is off the table at this point.

Brad Stevens

Brad Stevens joins the Celtics as head coach in 2013-14 after coaching Butler to two NCAA championship games. (Wikimedia Commons/Bradjward)

Best Case:

Rajon Rondo and Jared Sullinger are both healthy and ready for opening day. Coach Brad Stevens has the entire young team buy into a defense-first, running-oriented style that is both effective and entertaining for the fans. Rondo proves that he is a superstar in his own right without All-Star teammates while Jeff Green makes a significant leap as the No. 1 option offensively. Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries experience bounce-back seasons after a disappointing year, helping the team win but also building their trade value. Kelly Olynyk works his way into the starting lineup and is a genuine Rookie of the Year candidate while the rest of the team finds their niche and contributes. Could be a surprise competitor for a lower seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.

Worst Case:

Rondo’s injury keeps him out for a number of months to start the season and Jared Sullinger is not ready for camp. Lack of rim protection makes the Celtics one of the worst defensive teams in the league, routinely giving up high field goal percentage to their opponents. Avery Bradley is forced into playing out of position at point guard, splitting minutes with undrafted rookie Phil Pressey. Jeff Green makes no significant improvements and the team has no real go-to player offensively. Brad Stevens could take some time adjusting to the NBA game, the amount of inexperience and youth on the team leads to long losing streaks while the veterans become disinterested. Lack of shooting and interior D leads to the Celtics having one of the worst records in the league, competing for a top-five draft pick.

Projected Finish:

30-52, 4th in the Atlantic Division, 11th in the Eastern Conference

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Topics: 2013-14, Avery Bradley, Best Case, Boston, Brandon Bass, Celtics, Clippers, Doc Rivers, Draft, East, Eastern Conference, Gerald Wallace, Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Kevin Garnett, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, Paul Pierce, Phil Pressey, Playoffs, Prediction, Preview, Rajon Rondo, Tank, Vitor Faverani, Worst Case

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