Boston Celtics: 5 Players Who Must Step Up in 2013-14
Boston Celtics: Who Will Step Up In Rebuilding Year?
This is going to be a tough and grueling season for the Boston Celtics — there's no denying that. They have not missed the playoffs since the 2006-07 season, one year before winning the NBA Finals. But this year there's just no way they play postseason basketball.
Two of their three best players from a year ago — Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett — were traded to the Brooklyn Nets, and their former head coach Doc Rivers left for greener pastures with the Los Angeles Clippers. It is a completely different team the Celtics will be sending to the floor this year. Something many Celtics fans will take some time getting acquainted with.
But there is somewhat of a bright spot for the Celtics' future. The front office went out and inked their first choice to replace Rivers, former Butler University head coach Brad Stevens. He is a young, fresh man with an already expansive wealth of basketball knowledge. Plus, he knows how to win when it matters most; he took Butler to two-consecutive Final Four appearances while taking on the role of underdog.
If there's an underdog in the NBA this year, it's the Boston Celtics, which is incredibly odd to hear. Stevens won't be able to coach this team to immediate success, but he will create some sort of positive impact down the road. This year, it's up to the following five players to make sure the Celtics don't end up in last place in the Eastern Conference.
5. Kelly Olynyk
Rookie forward Kelly Olynyk will need to make an immediate impact in the paint for the Boston Celtics. Second-year man Jared Sullinger is likely to miss the majority of the 2013-14 season due to offseason surgery to repair his back. So, Olynyk will need to be the player the Celtics hoped he was when they traded for him after being selected by the Dallas Mavericks with the 13th overall selection in last year's NBA Draft. In his sophomore season at Gonzaga University before leaving for the draft, Olynyk averaged 17.8 points, 7.3 rebounds and one block in 26.4 minutes per game.
4. Avery Bradley
Point guard Avery Bradley has been injury plagued over the past two seasons, playing in just 78 games combined over that span. He must come ready to play and be an immediate and effective contributor to this team, however, come game No. 1. He will take over the starting point guard role for the mean time until Rajon Rondo returns from his knee injury. Over the past two seasons combined, Bradley has averaged 8.3 points, 1.7 assists and 24.6 minutes per game. All those numbers are likely to increase for Bradley in 2013-14, given he stays healthy.
3. Jeff Green
Offensively and scoring-wise, there's no better player on the Boston Celtics than shooting guard Jeff Green. Now more than a full year removed from a heart condition that caused him to miss the 2011-12 season, Green will be the man new head coach Brad Stevens will call on to score late in games. In 2013, Green averaged 12.8 points, 3.9 rebounds and a .466 shooting percentage.
2. Brandon Bass
Brandon Bass played the majority of his minutes last season in the shadow of Kevin Garnett. And now that Garnett is a Brooklyn Net, Bass will be the go-to man in the paint for the Celtics in 2013-14. He averaged 8.7 points and 5.2 rebounds in 27.6 minutes per game last season. He will be the Celtics main paint presence, so he'll need to elevate those numbers to help Boston stay away from the cellar of the Eastern Conference.
1. Rajon Rondo
Point guard Rajon Rondo is without a doubt the best player on this version of the Boston Celtics by a wide margin. Though the seven-year veteran will most likely not be able to hit the floor for the teams season-opening game against the Milwaukee Bucks after tearing his ACL last season, he is still the most important player on the team. Now without Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and former head coach Doc Rivers, Rondo will need to lead the charge in every game possible.