Boston Celtics: Evaluating a Young Core Moving Forward
The Boston Celtics have done an admirable job of staying patient with what they have and making ends meet while also staying flexible. In a year that could have easily become a “lost” season, a young core with a few veterans in the mix have kept their heads above water. The bold calls of “blow it up” and “trade everyone” from a passionate fan base have somewhat hushed as the future of the organization has turned some pages while still keeping the traditional methods of defense first, team first, and one game at a time.
The Celtics chose to make no major moves at the deadline and simply added some small pieces that could turn out to be real bargain players. They have chosen to not put any large amounts of added cash onto the books and are succeeding and truly becoming a team to watch by doing so. When taking a look at the young Celtic’s core moving forward, there is certainly more bright spots than the contrary.
Rajon Rondo- Rondo remains the cornerstone of the franchise even with a torn ACL. He is modeling his recovery after a major bounce-back season from a similar injury from Minnesota Vikings premiere running-back Adrian Peterson. The whispers of trading Rondo for value arise seemingly every year come trade season, but continue to be nothing more than whispers. The organization still sees Rondo as a franchise player and he’s still on the books for at least three more seasons and holds a very reasonable long-term deal. He has been controversial, subversive, and enigmatic yes, but he has also turned heads around the league and emerged as a truly special and unique player. Long story short, Rondo isn’t going anywhere.
Avery Bradley- Bradley has rebounded nicely from a semi-horrific shoulder(s) injury. He’s surely stepped up in the absence of Rondo and while his talent in some areas remains raw, especially on offense, his defensive prowess has rejuvenated the Celtics team defense and overall urgency and he continues to play as hard as anyone in the league, regardless of how pretty it looks. He remains one of the Celtics most valuable trade pieces, but the organization is quite attached to him to say the least. He continues to live up to his nickname of “the game changer.”
Jeff Green- Green is vital to the Celtic’s future moving forward. He got himself a nice payday stretched out over 4 years and after being perhaps the most criticized player across the league through 40 games, he’s now proving his worth in a big way. He’s coming into his own and truly showing that he is the Celtics number one option and one of the best up and coming wing players at the age of 26. He’s going to continue to silence doubters and his ceiling still remains sky-high. Green isn’t going anywhere but up, and those still nitpicking his consistency should turn on the TV and watch the games because he’s about to take over this team as the first offensive option and one of the teams most important pieces.
Jared Sullinger- Sullinger’s season ending back injury was perhaps equally as big of a blow as Rondo’s ACL tear. His emergence was perfectly timed and he’s a player that fits in perfectly into all of Doc Rivers schemes. The longevity of his career remains to be seen, as talent and basketball IQ certainly aren’t question marks, even at the young age of 20.
There is a ton of potential between just these four particular players that could essentially all be All-Star players in the next one or two seasons depending on the recoveries of Rondo and Sullinger. Even though the seasons of players like Courtney Lee and Brandon Bass have been mildly disappointing, the Celtic’s should be able to bring in some nice additions while still nurturing the newest members of the team. As for the veterans, it’s year to year. They are going to continue to remain relevant for as long as the organization will let them.
The season could have easily been given up on, but Rivers continues to lead his troops and adjust the game-plan on the fly. They are a funky and unpredictably group that no contender will desire to play in the post season. Whether they decide to bring in a maximum contract or not, the future certainly remains bright.