After the Danny Ainge and Celtics Yard Sale this past few weeks – the Boston Celtics are ALL-OUT, for now from 2015 – to hopefully at least late 2017, opposite of like the Miami Heat, who were ALL-IN from 2010-2014. This is officially rebuilding and tanking mode, a la the Philadelphia 76ers from 2013 – present (their total record is 26 – 92 over that span).
These days, the way to become Championship Contenders in the NBA is through, either have a group elite players, role players, and be a top 1 or 2 playoff seed, or be the worst (and gain talent through lottery picks and trade assets). It’s a proven fact that an organization is better off to be at the bottom of the league and rebuilding, rather than be in no-mans land and the 8th seeded playoff team that get bounced in the first round. Danny Ainge understands that better than anyone, especially as the founder of the modern BIG-THREE. I trust he can soon build a contender with his current assets and young players, but for now, Celtics basketball is not fun to watch.
TRUST ME, THE CELTICS HAVE A PLAN FOR SUCCESS ONCE AGAIN…
• I don’t want to bore you with the specifics of the Pierce, Garnett, Rondo, Green, etc. trades, however, I am going to excite you with what the Celtics have as of now (1/13/15).
• The amount of assets Danny Ainge and Boston has stockpiled is astonishing.
• The C’s currently possess the rights to as many as 12 FIRST-ROUND PICKS in the next FOUR DRAFTS, including up to EIGHT in the NEXT TWO DRAFTS.
• The final number of FIRST-ROUNDERS that Boston will own is dependent upon conditions that are attached to many of the picks. Those conditions will also affect the number of second-round picks the Celtics will own over the next few drafts, but suffice to say, they own A LOT of them.
BUILDING BLOCK PLAYERS
• 20-year-old Rookie Guard is could to be considered the Celtics current best player. If not now, he will be an All-Star, as he has the potential. Since the recent Yard Sale, he has assumed a larger role, improved his shooting, came up with some clutch field goals from behind the arch, and established himself as an elite defender. The way I see players, I rank them on where they would fit on a Championship Team. In Smart’s case, with his potential, in just a few years I could see him at least the 3rd best starter on a Championship team, more than likely - the 2nd best.
• I really like 22-year-old Power Forward Jared Sullinger as a basketball player. He plays like a big man, when most big men in the league these days are afraid to do so. Injuries have hurt him throughout his pro career, but when he’s healthy – he gets better and better each game. My crystal ball sees him either as the 5th best starter on a Championship team, or viable bench play quick off the bench for specific matchups.
• Avery Bradley created a reputation as one of the best Guard defenders in the NBA (at just age 24), however injuries have slowed him down over his career. Also, now knowing he was picking up the slack for Rondo the past two seasons, it makes sense Bradley has taken up his defensive play since Rondo’s departure. This promises good fortune for the C’s going forward. However, his offensive game is too sporadic for him to start on a Championship Team. Again, I see him as beginning the game on the bench in playoffs, but coming in for a defensive spark or specific matchup.
• Centers Kelly Olynyk (23-years-old) and Tyler Zeller (24-years old) - With this duo, Boston has versatility with really big men. With them splitting time, the Celtics have limited turnovers, scored well, defended well, rebounded well, and shot well. All good things - especially on a rebuilding team. Olynyk is skilled and the best shooter of the two. On the other hand, a recent metric indicates Zeller has been one of the top rim protectors in the game. For instance, when Zeller contests opponents inside of 10 feet of the hoop, they are shooting about 10 percentage points worse than their average. He is the only Celtics big man who has really impacted opponents' success rates inside. These two players compliment each other, and I could see them being interchangeable starters on a Championship team later down the road.
Add all of these assets, draft picks, and building blocks and draft together and you have a bright future in Boston. The Celtics have a ton of young talent and a stash of salary cap space and draft picks over the next two seasons. They are set up better than any organization in the league to acquire star players – and to surround those players with our quality youth – over the next two seasons.