2013-14 NBA Season: Top 5 Boston Celtics Players to Watch
Top 5 Boston Celtics Players to Watch
With a roster full of expensive and aging players, Boston Celtics General Manager Danny Ainge decided that it was time to rebuild. Personally, I think Ainge is doing the right thing here, but there is no way to sugar coat this; it is going to be painful.
In the biggest blockbuster trade of the summer, Ainge sent Boston legends Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett along with veteran guard Jason Terry to the Brooklyn Nets for three future first-round picks, an option to swap first-round picks in 2017 and a collect of role players including Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks and Keith Bogans.
Even though Boston gave up great talent in this deal, it is hard for me to say it was a trade they should not have made. Realistically, the Celtics were not winning another NBA title with aging stars like Pierce and Garnett. They simply did not have the supporting cast to compete with the powerful teams in the Eastern Conference like the Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls.
Longtime head coach Doc Rivers was not willing to stick around for a rebuild, and the Celtics granted his wish to leave when they sent him to the Los Angeles Clippers. In exchange for Rivers, the Celtics received an unprotected 2015 first-round pick from the Clippers. Unfortunately, with the expected success of the Nets and Clippers, all of these acquired draft picks will probably end up being in the later half of the draft. Regardless, Ainge will be have a ton of ammunition to build this team the way that he wants.
Replacing Rivers as the head coach in Boston is 36-year-old Brad Stevens, who will be coaching in the NBA for the first time. Stevens was extremely successful at Butler. He is known as a coach that gets the most out of his players, as his teams at Butler had incredible work ethic. It will be very interesting to see if he can motivate players at the professional level.
With a lack of talent and a first time NBA head coach on board, it will probably be a long season in Boston. With that being said, Ainge will have the opportunity to build this team however he likes and will have plenty of fire-power in the draft to do so. Wins will be tough to come by, so it will be very important for the Celtics to evaluate their talent and decide who will be on the roster when the team is ready to compete. Here are five players to watch for Boston this season.
5. Jordan Crawford
With the lack of scoring options that the Celtics have, I think Jordan Crawford could put up solid numbers this season. Crawford is an athletic wing that simply knows how to put the ball in the hole. He does not do much else well on the basketball court and he is known for making the occasional bone-head play, but there is no denying his ability to create his own shot. I think that Stevens will rely on Crawford at times to be the main scoring option for the Celtics. At only 24-years-old, he has a legitimate chance to be a part of the team in the future.
4. Kelly Olynyk
The Celtics traded up in the first round of the draft to take Kelly Olynyk with the 13th overall pick. The pick was a little underwhelming for Celtics fans but I think Olynyk could become a very good NBA player.
Olynyk is a true 7-footer, and you simply cannot teach that. He has a nice feel for the offensive post game, showing an impressive array of moves with his back to the basket. Also, Olynyk is fantastic at finishing around the rim. If you get it to him in the post, chances are he is going to score. Olynyk played point guard until his Junior year of High School, so he has better ball handling and passing skills than most big men. Olynyk also has the ability to step back and knock down a jumper at times. Defensively, Olynyk leaves plenty to be desired. He is a fast player, but he lacks many needed athletic skills like strength and leaping ability. He gets away with it on the offensive side of the court, but it really hurts him on defense and when rebounding.
Olynyk has nice potential and it will be very interesting to see if his smooth offensive game is good enough to counteract his inabilities on the defensive end.
3. Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley is one of the best defensive players that this league has to offer. While his amazing defense on the perimeter obviously makes him an important piece to the puzzle, Bradley simply needs to step up his game on the offensive end. At 6-foot-2, 180 pounds, Bradley is undersized as a two-guard, but does not possess the skills to impress as a point guard. Bradley is a decent shooter, ball handler and distributor, but he is not overly impressive in any offensive aspects of the game. Bradley will always have a place in the NBA because of his defense, but he must step up his offensive game if he expects to be a key part of this rebuild.
2. Jeff Green
Jeff Green had a strong season in Boston last year. Green has always flashed nice potential, but has never been able to reach it. Late last season, Green seemed to really turn the corner as he was huge for the Celtics on both ends of the court. Green is a very versatile player that can play both on the perimeter and in the post. He is a sneaky scorer who can create his own shot, solid distributor and good defender. It will be very interesting to see if Green can continue his good play from last season and become an important part of this rebuild.
1. Rajon Rondo
Rajon Rondo is far and away the best player for Boston, and also by far the most important. We will probably not see Rondo until later in the season as he continues to rehab from a serious knee injury. Rondo is one of the best players in the NBA with the ball in his hands. If Rondo can return to form from this injury, it will be a huge step for the Celtics in this rebuild, as they will undoubtedly build the team around him. The most important thing for Boston this season is the health of Rondo and his growth as a player.