Record (48-34) There is a lot to be happy about if you are a Boston Celtics fan. Brad Stevens, in his second year as head coach, has solidified himself as a true talent in the NBA. Once again the Celtics outperformed expectations and found themselves in the Eastern Conference Playoffs. Their lineup on paper does not have many names that really scare you. Point Guard Isaiah Thomas deservedly collected his first all-star selection this year and the Celtics backcourt that includes Thomas, Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley has proven to be skilled on offense and uniquely skilled on the defensive end. The addition of Jae Crowder gave the Celtics the grit and rebounding to compete with stronger teams like Miami and Cleveland and they were able to continue to get solid contributions from players like Evan Turner, Kelly Olynyk, and Jonas Jerebko. The Celtics seem to be one or two players away from becoming a premier threat in the Eastern Conference. GM Danny Ainge may be able to solve that problem in this year’s draft as the Celtics trade with Brooklyn that unloaded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett has proven to be the gift that keeps on giving as the Celtics are loaded with future picks and have the 3rd overall pick in this year’s draft. The Celtics are in need of a prominent wing scoring threat to take some of the offensive burden off of Isaiah Thomas and a premier big man as the tandem of Olynyk and Jared Sullinger has proven to be not enough to handle the likes of Hassan Whiteside and Andre Drummond or Paul Millsap/Al Horford if they hope to advance in the East. The time before the draft should be exciting in Boston. Ainge has proven to be a skilled negotiator and may not have lost a trade in terms of success yet in in his time in Boston. Several interesting players could find their way into a green uniform. Jimmy Butler would be an ideal fit on the wing and could become the primary scorer. Al Horford would be a great fit in the center and there are also interesting trade options with teams like Philadelphia who currently have a surplus in their front court with Joel Embiid, Nerlens Noel and Jahlil Okafor. It is well known the Celtics had expressed serious interest in Okafor last year during the draft and with their plethora of picks to play with, they could easily use their third pick and an addition of a player like Avery Bradley to lure Okafor to Boston as the Sixers are in desperate need of help at the guard position. The Celtics will have many talented players available if they decide to stay in their current draft position as it is. Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram are the consensus first and second picks but after them fall a jumble of talented options. Kentucky’s Jamal Murray and Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield have exceptional scoring ability and could plug in perfectly for Boston. There are also lots of rumors surrounding Croatian Big man Dragan Bender who has drawn heavy comparisons to the Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis. Boston is also in control of the 16th and 23rd overall pick in the first round and could likely find talent like Syracuse Malachai Richardson in the mid-late first round. The Celtics have the proper ownership and coaching staff to compete in the East. Now it is up to Brad Stevens and Danny Ainge to put the talent on the court that is capable to hang with teams like the Hawks, Heat and Cavaliers moving forward.
NBA Off-Season Previews
Atlantic Division: Boston Celtics – Brooklyn Nets – New York Knicks – Philadelphia 76ers – Toronto Raptors Central Division: Chicago Bulls – Cleveland Cavaliers – Detroit Pistons – Indiana Pacers – Milwaukee Bucks Southeast Division: Atlanta Hawks – Charlotte Hornets – Miami Heat – Orlando Magic – Washington Wizards Southwest Division: Dallas Mavericks – Houston Rockets – Memphis Grizzlies – New Orleans Pelicans – San Antonio Spurs Northwest Division: Denver Nuggets – Minnesota Timberwolves – Oklahoma City Thunder – Portland Trail Blazers – Utah Jazz Pacific Division: Golden State Warriors – Los Angeles Clippers – Los Angeles Lakers – Phoenix Suns – Sacramento Kings