There is reason to believe that the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns should be concerned heading into the start of the 2022-23 NBA season.
Two of the best teams in the NBA last season, the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns, are facing different crises and doubts heading into the new season are present. Who is in the worst position? Why are they so different but at the same time the same? Who will prevail?
The Celtics recently suspended head coach Ime Udoka for the entire 2022-23 season, Robert Williams III will miss 8-12 weeks with surgery on his left knee and Danilo Gallinari tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee and will miss the entire season. Meanwhile, the Suns kept DeAndre Ayton on the roster, but Jae Crowder is available on the open market.
When the Celtics traded Aaron Nesmith, Daniel Theis, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, Juwan Morgan, and a 2023 first-round pick to Indiana in exchange for Malcolm Brogdon it seemed like it was just what they needed to boost the second unit. And then they signed Gallinari, another offensive specialist who can open the court and make decisive decisions off the bench.
Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns are in a period of uncertainty
Phoenix had an offseason with more vicissitudes and waited until the last minute to try to land Kevin Durant only to keep Ayton for four more years and $133 million sometime later. During that waiting period, they only signed Damion Lee and Jock Landale, made Crowder available on the market, and were far from being a real threat to the rest of the contenders, who reinforced their rosters with more quality players.
In last year’s playoffs, only two teams averaged fewer bench points than Boston (22.7), nine maintained better three-point percentages (35.7%), and 10 more assists (4.8). When the starters went out, the dry spells came and Brad Stevens moved very well to dispel that situation.
Unfortunately, once again, the injuries appeared, and that was compounded by the Udoka situation.
If the Celtics made the NBA Finals, lost, and moved fast, Phoenix did the opposite. To this day the doubts are present. Cameron Payne went from averaging 9.3 points and 3.2 assists in the 2019-20 playoffs to 4.2 points and 2.1 assists in the 2021-22 playoffs.
The bench is the answer
“99 WONT BE THERE.!”. Crowder tweeted this and threw a sea of controversy at the organization. But can his departure be Phoenix’s final hope, and what can the franchise get in return?
In a recent piece by Sports Illustrated, three teams should consider trading for Jae Crowder: the Celtics, Knicks, and Heat. Of those, Boston is the one with a player who could bolster the team defensively and offensively in Derrick White.
With Cam Johnson starting in a hypothetical Crowder’s departure, White could be that alternative card off the bench to give the Suns the depth they need so badly right now.
Dario Saric, in turn, is another of the cards that Phoenix did not have last season and already left very good feelings in the EuroBasket a few weeks ago.
He averaged 9.2 points and 7.2 rebounds in 27.0 minutes, and everyone knows what he can contribute in terms of spacing, defense, rebounds, and winning plays for the team.
Which team will have a better season?
At the start of the offseason, it was Boston that made the better moves. Now the coin is flipping in Phoenix’s favor. In basketball, such a logical sport, things can change in a matter of seconds and the situation of these two franchises is the best example.
The NBA never leaves room for boredom and the Celtics and Suns will have to answer big questions as the 2022-23 season begins.
Can the Celtics get back to being the contenders in the East? Will Phoenix finally get their ring?