Ranking Boston Celtics’ Best Building Blocks
Ranking The Boston Celtics' Best Building Blocks
It's time for fans to recognize and embrace a harsh reality: the Boston Celtics are officially NBA bottom-feeders. Since their impressive early-season run, the Cs rattled off 20 losses in 25 games, and are now 11th in the Eastern Conference.
After their blow-it-up trade with the Brooklyn Nets over the summer, expectations for this club weren't high. Now, after a couple more deals that sent out solid rotation players like Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford, Boston's talent level simply isn't on par with the top teams in the weak East, never mind the NBA as a whole. Rajon Rondo is finally back with the team, but his impact, while noticeable, hasn't resulted in any improvement record-wise; the Celtics are just 3-6 with their star point guard in the lineup.
The losses keep piling up, and the Celtics move deeper and deeper into the lottery, a place they have been able to avoid for the past six years. But do not fret, Celtics fans. While the Cs aren't remotely close to postseason qualification this year, the future looks bright. The Cs have a slew of first-round picks over the next few seasons and a handful of young players — some who have a future in Boston and some who are just rentals — yet to reach their NBA ceilings.
Of course, talent doesn't solely dictate whether or not a player belongs on the Celtics. Position, work ethic and obviously salary are all factors. So, based on all of those factors, let’s take a look at the best building blocks for the Celtics’ future.
5. Avery Bradley
While it's unclear if Avery Bradley can be the long-term solution at shooting guard for the Cs, he is certainly having a productive season this year. His jump shot is finally starting to splash consistently, and he appears to be comfortable with his role in the offense. His defense remains top-notch, and he has yet to get major minutes alongside Rajon Rondo, who is sure to find him some extra open looks. He could play a big role for this Celtics team in the future, but whether or not he sticks around after this season depends on what kind of cash he's going to command in free agency this summer. Since he is going to be a restricted free agent, Boston can match any offer Bradley is given, but the team likely won't be interested in shelling out $8-9 million per year for the 23-year-old.
4. Kelly Olynyk
Kelly Olynyk is actually having a fairly productive rookie season, contrary to popular belief. Sure, he is battling inconsistent playing time and “rookie fouls”, but he's still managing to post 6.4 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, all while playing just 17.9 minutes per night. Olynyk has demonstrated his tremendous offensive versatility in a handful of games this season, including a 25-point, five-rebound, seven-assist outing in Boston’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers. He certainly has a place on this team, and he is only going to keep improving. Stay tuned, Celtics fans; Kelly Olynyk could become a household name.
3. Jared Sullinger
Jared Sullinger has made quite the leap from last season to this. As the team’s interim starting center, Sullinger has been tasked with going head-to-head with many of the NBA's giants. Because of this, he has been dealing with what seems like dozens of nagging injuries, yet he has still managed to sport averages of 13.4 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. Oh, and he has looked nothing short of stellar in his last four games; he is averaging 23.8 points and 13.8 rebounds in that span. Coming into the season, it was common belief that Sully was a building block for Boston. Now, behind his strong play, he has solidified that notion.
2. Rajon Rondo
Although it’s still unclear if Rajon Rondo can be a team’s centerpiece, it’s a possibility, which is more than the rest of the guys on this list have going for them. The “Rondo Experiment” can go one of two ways: Rondo proves to be a cornerstone and an army of spot-up shooters is a sufficient supporting cast, or he fails to have any effect on Boston’s record and he is shipped out of town for what would likely be expiring contracts, high-upside NBA prospects and/or first-round draft picks. The idea of a Rondo-led team is certainly an exciting idea, and has the capability to be deadly. We will have to wait and see if it materializes.
1. Brad Stevens
Quite simply, Brad Stevens is the future of the Boston Celtics. He is currently signed to a six-year contract, and so far the hiring has looked like a complete steal. The former Butler University coach has helped the Celtics’ youngsters to progress quickly and effectively, and has gained the respect of all 14 players on Boston’s roster. The C’s got off to a great start under Stevens — much better than anyone predicted. With a quality group of guys, Stevens could do some serious damage. As long as he is at the helm of this club, Celtics fans shouldn't worry.
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