This is the third edition in a series previewing the seasons NBA teams with former Texas Longhorn players.
So far I’ve previewed the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers, Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors. Today I’m looking at the Boston Celtics.
Last season: 41-40, Lost in first round to New York Knicks, 4-2
**Note: The Celtics only played 81 games, rather than 82. One of their games was cancelled due to the Boston Marathon bombings in April.
Longhorn player: Avery Bradley, point guard
The Celtics will be one of the most interesting teams to watch this season. Over the summer, they made a blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics sent longtime franchise player Paul Pierce, along with streaky guard Jason Terry, forward/center Kevin Garnett and forward DJ White to the Nets. In exchange Boston received swingman Gerald Wallace, forward Kris Humphries, guard/forward Keith Bogans, guard MarShon Brooks, forward Kris Joseph, three future first round draft picks and the option to swap first round picks with the Nets in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Whoa. That was a mouth full. Still with me?
With that massive deal, the Celtics are committed to shedding salary and rebuilding with youth. It was brilliant for Boston. They realized that Garnett and Pierce were aging rapidly and winning just 41 games and losing in the first round with those players was no longer economical. So, they are officially in rebuilding mode this year.
If you take a look at their roster now, you’ll see only two players over the age of 30: Bogans and Wallace, two of the guys the Celtics acquired in that deal. You’ll also no longer see Doc Rivers on bench. The Celtics hired Brad Stevens, former head coach at Butler University. This team is an extremely challenging situation for Stevens to step into. But I think he’s up to it — he more than proved himself by leading the Butler Bulldogs to two national title appearances. At 36, Stevens is now the NBA’s youngest coach.
This is still Rajon Rondo’s team. A glut of unproven players and journeymen will surround him this year. Rondo is Boston’s best offensive player by far, followed by Wallace. MarShon Brooks has potential to be an explosive scorer in the future.
Former Texas Longhorn guard Avery Bradley will be Rondo’s primary backup and figures to get decent minutes behind him. He could even play some two guard. Last year, he averaged 9.2 points and 2.1 assists in 28.7 minutes per game.
Overall, this year won’t be pretty for the Celtics. Expect a lot of pains offensively — this team will struggle to score. Rondo is not a score r— he’s a creator, and it would not be wise for new coach Brad Stevens to attempt to change his style. Defensively, there is a ton of athleticism on this squad. The Celtics will be a fast and long team. They should force quite a few turnovers and get Rondo out on the break.
Bottom line: I’ll say Boston wins 28 games. Tough. After giving up its best player for the last decade, the Celtics will need to endure this rebuilding process for another couple of years. But, by then, Rondo might be long gone. Boston has a lot of decisions to make over that time.