After all the reflection and celebrating, the world makes resolutions to change their lives and achieve lofty goals they will probably break a week later. Let’s take a look at the Celtics’ roster, what each player’s New Year’s resolution should be for 2014 and hope that at least some of them can follow through with them, unlike most of us.
Brandon Bass – Retain Your Starting Spot
Since arriving in Boston for the 2011-12 season, Brandon Bass has been inserted and removed from the starting lineup on numerous occasions. Now in his ninth season, Bass has started all but two of his 31 games for the Celtics this season and has produced respectable numbers with 11.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. However, with the team recently sliding in the standings and with a group of hungry frontcourt players vying for minutes, Bass could be looking over his shoulder if the Celtics find themselves out of the playoff race. It will be up to Bass and the rest of the Boston veterans to quickly turn the season around or coach Brad Stevens may look to increase the minutes of his younger big men.
Keith Bogans – Guide The Youngsters Through A Tough January
While veteran swingman Keith Bogans seems unlikely to ever make a real contribution on the court for the Celtics this season, the 33 year old vet may have an important role over the coming weeks as the Celtics face what could be the toughest stretch of their 2013-14 schedule. With a jam-packed January calendar, numerous back-to-backs and a brutal Western Conference road trip, the less experienced players are likely to feel the heat as an already struggling team could suddenly be looking down the barrel of a dramatically worse record. Bogans is now in his 10th NBA season and has spent his fair share of time on lottery-bound teams, he and the teams’ coaching staff will need to guide, advise and reassure the youngsters in Boston through a tough stretch and the inexperienced players on the roster could learn a lot from Bogans about conducting yourself as a true professional even through tough times.
Avery Bradley – Improve Playmaking Abilities
Now in his fourth season with the Celtics, Avery Bradley has been one of the early standouts for the Celtics and has quietly made some dramatic improvements to his game. Already one of the league’s most tenacious on-ball defenders, Bradley is rounding out his game this season upping his scoring output to 13.8 points on better than 45 percent shooting, while also pulling down 4.2 rebounds per game. The problem for Bradley remains his inability to create shots for his teammates, which at 6’3” will always limit his potential. Bradley is averaging just 1.3 assists per game this season despite playing 31 minutes and without the ball-dominant Rajon Rondo racking up double-digit assists beside him. While Jordan Crawford handles the majority of the point guard duties, those numbers are alarming even if Bradley is viewed exclusively as a wing player, he must drastically improve his passing ability to become a more dangerous offensive threat for the Celtics and to help his negotiations in the off-season for a new contract.
MarShon Brooks – Embrace The D-League
The Celtics have used third-year guard MarShon Brooks sparingly this season and with just more than an hour of court time under his belt, the team has decided to assign Brooks to the Maine Red Claws, the Celtics D-League affiliate. It is the first time in his career that the talented scoring guard will play in the D-League and while some players may take it personally, Brooks has to make the most of the increased playing time and work to improve his all-around game. As a rookie, Brooks showed his natural scoring ability averaging 12.6 points per game with the Nets, but he has struggled to carve out a role for himself since then and needs to work on the other aspects of his game before he can play significant minutes in the NBA. Brooks will have all the touches and shots he wants in Maine, but it will be how he responds to the move and if he shows development in other areas of his game as to whether he will have a place on the Celtics for the rest of the season.
Jordan Crawford – Don’t Relapse
After being inserted into the starting lineup just four games into the season, Jordan Crawford has been nothing short of a revelation for the Celtics as he fills in at point guard for the injured Rajon Rondo. Crawford had come to Boston with the reputation of a gunner with questionable shot selection but to start the 2013-14 season he is shooting clearly the best percentages of his career from the field and from 3. Crawford’s 5.4 assists are also by far a career high and his emergence has greatly contributed to a surprising start from a team most expected to be near the bottom of the standings. Now, after a number of quiet games and with the team on somewhat of a slide, it is imperative that Crawford sticks to what was working for him early in the season and does not revert back to his shot-chucking ways in Washington. With Rondo’s return scheduled within the next month, Crawford will see less of the ball but should also find himself open to convert good looks offensively and continue to improve his efficiency as a scorer.
Vitor Faverani – Earn Playing Time
The Brazilian rookie started the season with a splash but has since been forced to settle into a limited role off the bench as the more experienced frontcourt players in Boston earned their playing time from Stevens. Faverani has shown some great signs early in his career, displaying impressive rim-protection and surprising range into three point territory. He has however struggled to adjust to the pace of the NBA and has been inconsistent when given opportunities. There is no doubt that Faverani can be a productive NBA big man, he needs to continue to work in practice, make the most of his minutes and a greater opportunity is likely around the corner.
Jeff Green – Assert Yourself
Coming into the 2013-14 season, many expected Jeff Green to become the Celtics’ primary scorer offensively and carry the load scoring the ball for a team limited on that end of the court. Green has always had tremendous natural talent, good driving ability and a solid outside stroke and he is one of few players on the team with the ability to create a shot for himself. Green’s current 15.9 point average per game is a result of inconsistent play, where he will show up and score 20-plus points one night and be in single-digits the next. Green has failed to embrace the challenge of being a go-to scorer on this team and often drifts through games rather than asserting himself when the result could be in the balance. Green should be much closer to that 20 point average per night and the coaching staff needs to push him to be more aggressive, especially when the team struggles through offensive droughts. Hopefully the return of Rondo and the challenge of the January schedule brings the best out of Green and he can become the player the Celtics need him to be.
Kris Humphries – Earn That Money
Humphries is in the last year of a lucrative contract that will have earned him $24 million over the past two seasons by the end of 2013-14. While Humphries may never again approach that kind of money, big men traditionally get well-fed in the NBA and it is important for Humphries to impress potential suitors this season as it could be his last opportunity for a big pay day. The 28 year old forward is averaging 6.6 points and 4.5 rebounds for the year, however he has made a much greater impact recently as the first big man off the bench for the Celtics. Humphries has always been able to produce effectively when given the playing time and he is still one of the league’s elite rebounders. If he continues to impress Coach Stevens with his effort and effectiveness off the bench, he could see another rise in playing time and that could pay off big-time for him at seasons end when he is looking for a new deal.
Courtney Lee – Stay Aggressive Offensively
While Courtney Lee may be playing the lowest minutes per game of his six-season career, the 28-year-old shooting guard is having a positive effect on the Celtics’ season with some unbelievably efficient shooting thus far. In 28 games, Lee is scoring his 7.5 points per game on better than 50 percent from the field and an impressive .478 from 3-point range. Lee has been tremendously efficient shooting the ball and needs to continue to look for his shot when he is on the court. Any time a player is shooting the ball this well, you want the ball in his hands more often and the Celtics need to look for Lee offensively when he’s out there. The super-efficient shooting from outside could well make Lee an attractive trade piece for playoff teams come the February Trade Deadline.
Kelly Olynyk – Build Off Breakout Game
Kelly Olynyk has had a rough start to his rookie season in Boston. After a dominant performance in Summer League, many expected the former Gonzaga standout to be one of the most impactful rookies in 2013-14 with his mix of post scoring, outside shooting and passing from the frontcourt. Instead, the pace of the NBA left Olynyk behind early and injuries have since derailed the start of his season. In 21 games so far, Olynyk has averaged seven points and 4.8 rebounds per game but has shot just 40 percent from the field. Suddenly, out of no where on New Year’s Eve against the Hawks, Olynyk broke out, scoring 21 points to go with four rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots as the Celtics fell just a point short of knocking off the Eastern Conference third seed. He shot an outstanding 8-for-11 from the field, which included three triples, and was perfect from the foul line. The Celtics will be hoping this will give a much needed boost of confidence to the talented rookie to take into the New Year and hopefully produce more of these big games in the future.
Phil Pressey – Learn And Develop With Rondo
Undrafted point guard Phil Pressey may only be getting limited minutes so far in his rookie season, but the Missouri product has shown flashes of his passing brilliance and tenacity on defense that makes up for being undersized at the position. While he averages just 1.7 points and 2.1 assists per game, Pressey has seen time in 28 contests for the Celtics this season and has provided meaningful minutes in a number of games. He is able to change the pace of the game and control the ball as a true point guard, something that the team lacks without Rajon Rondo. Speaking of Rondo, the next few weeks may be the most important of Pressey’s career if he can work against and alongside Rondo in practice, soaking up every bit of experience from the NBA Champion guard and raise his game to another level along the way. Rondo is a heady player with a high basketball IQ and rare vision, even for the best point guards in the league, Pressey would do well to tail Rondo as much as possible, compete hard against him in practice and take notes as the All-Star guard returns to the court.
Rajon Rondo – Get Back On The Floor, At 100 Percent
Rondo is now participating in full practices with the team and his return cannot come soon enough for the Celtics who have struggled recently and will endure a brutal January schedule. While Rondo’s competitive nature is well known, he has stressed the importance of not returning to the court until not only is his knee back to full strength but he is fully game-fit to ensure he can help the team and avoid any further injuries. With what we have seen around the league with point guards like Derrick Rose and Russell Westbrook suffering injuries on their return from surgery, few can fault Rondo for doing everything he can to avoid the same fate. In a weak Eastern Conference and in a league with a number of its star guards out with injury, the Celtics and the NBA as a whole awaits Rondo’s return.
Jared Sullinger – Find Consistency
Jared Sullinger may well be the Celtics’ standout performer through the first part of the season and as he continues to work his way back from back surgery, the second year forward has had some outstanding performances already. Sullinger is averaging 13.5 points and seven rebounds this season in just 26 minutes per game, but that could be drastically improved if he could become a more consistent player and avoid disappointing, single-digit outings with more regularity. The past six games are a perfect example, In the three games spanning Dec. 16-21, Sullinger averaged more than 20 points per game, 10 rebounds and 3.3 assists. He then followed that up with three performances where he produced just six points and five rebounds. As he works his way back to peak condition, Sullinger has the potential to be among the most productive big men in the league if he can just avoid these poor performances with more regularity. The Celtics will be hoping he can start to do so in 2014.
Gerald Wallace – Push Jeff Green
This one comes directly from Wallace himself. When Chris Forsberg from ESPN asked Wallace about his New Year’s resolution, the veteran forward replied with a somewhat surprising and selfless answer. Make Jeff Green an All-Star. Now while Green won’t be representing the Celtics at All-Star weekend this season, it’s great to see his teammates showing this kind of faith in his abilities. Hopefully Wallace can stay healthy and follow through with his promise to push Green even harder in 2014.
Gerald Wallace doesn’t believe in New Year’s resolutions. He figures most of them are lies. But forced to make one, he went in a selfless direction Monday and said he’d like to see teammate Jeff Green make the Eastern Conference All-Star team.
Wallace is doing his part, not only by stumping for Green, but pushing him on the court.
“He has so much upside. He can get so much better,” said Wallace. “He’s so explosive at his size and the position he plays. Just the little things that I can help him with that I’ve been through in my career and try to add to his game. I try to give him advice about his game that he can do better, and he’s taken huge advantage and continued to get better every day.”