Boston Celtics: 2014-15 NBA Season Preview


NBA Preview: Boston Celtics

2013-14 record: 25-57
Predicted 2014-15 record: 25-57

Key additions: Marcus Smart, Tyler Zeller, Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton, James Young

Key subtractions: Kris Humphries, Jerryd Bayless

Three things I think I know:

1.  The Rajon Rondo rumors will never die. Until the All-Star point guard is either traded or re-signed to a new contract, speculation about his future will be the biggest storyline of the Celtics’ season.

2.  Jeff Green is not going to have a breakout year. Celtics fans can stop waiting for the emergence of the player who from time to time flashes superstar potential–it’s not happening. At this point Green is what he is.

3.  I don’t expect this team to be any better than last season, but with Turner and rookies Smart and Young on board, they should at least be more entertaining.

The Celtics will be a playoff team if:

Rajon Rondo is motivated to play to the best of his abilities on a nightly basis, whether it’s because he’s committed to the Celtics’ future, or just because he’s an impending free agent in a contract year…Avery Bradley stays healthy, and once again becomes the defensive terror he was two seasons ago…Marcus Smart is an effective third guard off the bench…Jared Sullinger and Kelly Olynyk continue to improve, Sullinger to near All-Star level and Olynyk to that of a capable NBA starting center.

Strengths: With Rondo, Bradley, Smart, Thornton and possibly Young (if he doesn’t get sent down to the D-League) all competing for minutes at the guard positions, Boston has a very deep and athletic backcourt. This should allow the Celtics to play outstanding perimeter and on-ball defense, particularly when Bradley and Smart are on the floor.

Weaknesses: Who is the go to guy–the big-time scorer who gets you the buckets in crunch time when you need them? It’s hard to see a player who fits this profile on Boston’s roster. An interior shot-blocking presence is also hard to find on this club; the combination of Olynyk, Zeller and the 6’9″ Sullinger isn’t going to scare anyone.

2014-15 team MVP will be: Rondo, unless he’s traded. The next best guess is probably Sullinger, who upped his averages from 6 points and 5.9 rebounds per game as a rookie to 13.3 and 8.1 in his sophomore campaign.

Season defining question: Will Rondo remain a Celtic? Boston is in full-on rebuilding mode and has little hope for on-court success this year. The long-term plan appears to be in limbo, however, while we wait and see what happens with the team’s captain. Unfortunately there’s a good chance this question won’t be answered until next summer.

Best case scenario: The young guys show signs of fulfilling their potential, and Rondo likes what he sees enough to sign a deal to stay in town. The Celtics either narrowly miss the postseason and get another lottery pick, or sneak in and show off a bit of spunk in the first round on the national stage. Players across the league view Boston as an attractive destination in 2015, and the Celtics are able to add the superstar they are missing.

Worst case scenario: Determined to earn a max contract, Rondo plays the best basketball of his career. But the rest of the roster fails to develop, and Boston finishes with a win total in the low 30s, preventing the club from getting a top lottery pick. The Celtics are forced to either traded their frustrated point guard at the deadline for pennies on the dollar, or let him walk in free agency.

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