Over the next month until opening night on October 31, I?ll be previewing one NBA team a day. Starting in the Eastern Conference, I?ll be starting with my lowest ranked team and continuing to the best, then switching conferences. Enjoy.
Young Celtics are Loaded, Not Quite Ready
The Celtics had a busy offseason. Rumored to be the front runners to acquire Allen Iverson, GM Danny Ainge decided to hold his ground and continue to build with young players. He resigned his franchise player Paul Pierce and had a great draft. Among the young players added were Sebastian Telfair, former star of ESPN’s documentary Through The Fire, Leon Powe, Rajon Rondo, and Allan Ray. They’ll be thrown into the mix along with the Celtics’ other countless youngsters. Of the 16 players on Boston’s preseason roster, only five have more than three years of NBA experience.
The Celtics will get the majority of their scoring from veterans Paul Pierce and Wally Szczerbiak, the only veterans expected to start. The shooting duo should be able to average over 40-45 points between them. Along with the new acquisitions, Boston’s rotation will probably include about five other young players: Delonte West, Al Jefferson, Ryan Gomes, Gerald Green, and Kendrick Perkins. If the young core of Boston can continue to improve, then Ainge and coach Doc Rivers will feel confident of future success. If they struggle, then Boston will again be in the draft lottery and a long way from replicating the success from the “short shorts” era of the NBA.
Projected Starting Lineup
PG: Sebastian Telfair
SG: Wally Szczerbiak
SF: Paul Pierce
PF: Al Jefferson
C: Kendrick Perkins
Key Reserves: Delonte West, Ryan Gomes
Three Questions about the Boston Celtics
1. Can all the young players grow up quickly? If they can, Boston is capable of making the playoffs. They have lots of quality young talent that can make the roster. It also helps that the Celts play in one of the NBA’s weakest divisions.
2. Will Boston increase the tempo? Having a true point guard like Telfair will make it possible. The Celtics committed 16 turnovers a game last season, 29th in the NBA. Telfair should be able to penetrate defenses, run the fast break, and get the shooters like Pierce and Szczerbiak open shots.
3. Can anybody rebound? We all know Szczerbiak can’t. He’s good for three pointers and not much else. If the youngsters can’t rebound, then Boston may look for their ancient centers (Michael Olowokandi, Theo Ratliff, Brian Scalabrine) to add toughness inside.
The Celtics can finish 2nd in the Atlantic Division but are likely a year away from a playoff berth.