The Boston Celtics have done a superb job hanging in the lottery race thus far. They are currently in position to obtain the No. 5 pick in the 2014 NBA draft. With a pile of injuries and a difficult road ahead, the Celtics are in prime position to attain more and more ping-pong balls in the next couple of weeks. Key players may be ailing with an injury for a few more games, including: Jared Sullinger, Avery Bradley and Kelly Olynyk.
Sullinger has been the Celtics’ best player all season long. He recently suffered a concussion in Los Angeles and hasn’t played since. The forward out of Ohio State has been a monster on the boards lately, averaging over 10 a game. He’s also a vital part of the offense with his post-proficiency, perimeter shot and ability to draw double-teams. His absence will certainly hurt the Celtics going forward.
The team should consider shutting Sullinger down for the rest of the season. He’s developed his game mightily this season, plus he has chronic back problems. With an already lost season, why not rest him up for next year and gain a better chance of obtaining a high-lottery pick while you’re at it? I’m sure it won’t happen, but it should be considered.
Avery Bradley has been dealing with a nagging ankle injury that has caused him to miss seven straight games. This injury is actually more beneficial to the Celtics than most would think. Bradley does not only help Boston win games, but he is a restricted free-agent at season’s end. Bradley, being prone to injury, may see a drop in value this offseason. Despite those injury issues, if his market is small and the Celtics can get him for cheap, they shouldn’t hesitate to match an offer.
Kelly Olynyk missed last night’s game due to a toe injury. It shouldn’t be a long-term issue, but Olynyk has been a solid contributor for the Celtics in the last month. He has really stepped up on the glass and is taking advantage of his scoring opportunities. The big man from Gonzaga should be a solid role player, but his absence is beneficial for now.
It’s important that these young players develop their skills, but with just over 20 games left in the season, Boston can afford to have them miss a few games, especially if it will help lose those games. With such a tough schedule coming up, the injuries may not even be a factor.