Supporting the Boston Celtics recently has been a roller coaster of an experience. Departures and new arrivals provide a new canvas for Brad Stevens.
In the city of Boston, only one thing defines a good season — winning. The fans are ravenous for success, not only for the Boston Celtics, but the Red Sox, Bruins and New England Patriots as well.
Eleven years removed from their last NBA championship, the fans could be forgiven for any impatience shown. They’re a clever bunch though, they understand the need for stability within the franchise.
More from Hoops Habit
- Milwaukee Bucks: Five former players that would have helped this team
- Los Angeles Lakers: Which play-in team poses the biggest threat?
- The Utah Jazz need Royce O’Neale to get selfish behind the 3-point line
- 15 NBA documentaries we would binge during the hiatus
- Los Angeles Lakers: 4 point guards to target this offseason
Entering this season the Celtics are neither contending or rebuilding, they are growing as a team. The ethos has been firmly placed on internal improvement; to what end remains to be seen.
So what actually defines a good season for the Boston Celtics this year? Would it be finishing in the top three in the East? Or maybe making a surprise trip to the conference semifinals?
A good season this year is far less superficial than one might like to admit, instead of seeding or surprise runs it requires improvements from all over the organization.
Gordon Hayward, when healthy, is an All-Star caliber player, a player in coach Brad Stevens’ own image. Unfortunately, Celtics fans have not seen this version of Hayward thus far. While not personally at fault for this, Hayward needs to make good on a contract that cushions his bank account by north of $30 million a year.
Reports in the media indicate that Hayward has been putting the work in during the summer. While there is no guarantee that he will reach the heights of his Utah days, there remains a quiet optimism that he can reach All-Star level this year.
Having Hayward improve his production is what will be the catalyst for this season being a good one, not that it all rests on his shoulders though. He is just a major cog in the moving parts at play here.
Tatum has spoken of the feedback he received from Gregg Popovich during his time with Team USA, indicating he is no longer interested in settling for low percentage mid-range jump shots.
As polarizing as Tatum may be among rival fan bases, he is the young jewel in the Celtics crown capable of lighting it up or facilitating for others. Flashing signs of potential will no longer be enough, now is Tatum’s time to take the next step in his development.
Hayward playing at an All-Star level and Tatum taking that next step are both important aspects in a successful season for Boston. But that alone is not enough to consider the year a success, the team needs more — the fans need more.
In Carsen Edwards and Grant Williams, the Celtics have found two players capable of easing the pressure on the likes of Daniel Theis and Brad Wanamaker, two young hungry players who can flat out ball.
While their styles and skill-sets differ drastically, they both bring energy, a will to run the hard miles while finding a way to score — they did it for their college teams, which is part of the reason they are now Celtics.
Danny Ainge has made no secret that personality played a role in their draft process, and boy did they strike gold. Add this to the additions of Romeo Langford and Tremont Waters, and the young pieces which were added during the summer all have an opportunity to stake their claim moving forwards — this is to a lesser extent for Waters due to his two-way contract.
Each of these aspects can aid in what will be seen as a successful season for the Celtics, but the question of “what will define a successful season” is yet to be answered.
A successful season will be defined by not only the growth of the team’s returning players and rookies, but by the team rediscovering their identity, by getting back to the play style which earned Brad Stevens his stellar reputation.
By creating a team spirit that encapsulates the fan base as it did during the Isaiah Thomas years, a fortitude that will not see the team’s heads drop when the going gets tough.
Jumps from Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and a return to his former self by Gordon Hayward will all be welcome additions this year too, while incorporating the ever-likable Kemba Walker does not project as a difficult task.
Following the aberration of last season, a successful season is one where the team performs as a cohesive unit. Stevens has proven adept at drawing the very best out of the players at his disposal, if the players buy into what he is preaching then this season will be a success.
It may not be the sort of success that fans of Boston sports have come to know and love, but it is the sort of success this team needs right now. Steady the ship, improve and possibly shock the world – they have done it before, only this time they really have a point to prove.