The Celtics are currently in the middle of a process that can only be described as laughable. They have spent the last few years trading away anyone that's any good right now and exchanged them for players they hope will be good in the future, either through picks or actual personnel. Barring some monumental trades (which we've seen happen before), the Celtics won't be contending for anything but the 8th seed for years to come. With all the new faces floating around and the insane amount of draft picks, what will this team look like in two years?
The short answer, it's anyone's guess.
Let's start with the current roster. 6th overall pick Marcus Smart has shown some potential. His rookie campaign has had it's share of growing pains and rookie mistakes, as well as just plain bad games. He's shooting at only 39% efficiency, and that will have to go up (the league average is about 45%). His other numbers thus far have been mediocre. 6.4 points per game and 2.9 assists per game isn't going to cut it for a starting point guard. That being said, he's a rookie. And while his numbers have been less than stellar, his actual play has been promising. He has heart, he has spirit, he has passion, he's a leader. The C's are desperately lacking all of those qualities. Some time to refine his game, and he'll be in a prime position to lead this team for years to come.
Jared Sullinger was once slated as a lottery pick until back injuries scared away potential suitors. He fell to the Celtics at 21st overall and he's looking like a steal. League average 45% shooting and an above average (for a a big man) 76% free throw shooting. Not bad. 8 boards a game is decent. But if he's going to be your #1 rebounder, you need some other solid contributors. Sullinger, it seems, will never be a stud, but he can be a very good complimentary piece if surrounded by the right guys. Should be part of the long-term picture.
Evan Turner was my favorite addition to the team this year and he still is. He's one of those guys that does a little of everything but nothing extremely well. He's not a huge asset, but he's not a liability either. He's showing some leadership skills and an ability to give you a lot of quality minutes. Again, if he's anything more than your 5th guy, you're in trouble. But he has the stuff to be a great contributor. The problem, his contract is up after the 2015-2016 season. Since we're talking about who will be here in 2017, I don't like Boston's chances of retaining him. He will be able to find other suitors and will probably be able to find a better situation. I'd like to see him here, but I'm not holding my breath.
Avery Bradley just signed a 4 year deal in the offseason, but I think he's gone. His defensive skills are impressive, but his offense just isn't anything special. He's never developed into the player everyone thought he would, and defense isn't as important to the Celtics as it was in recent years. His skills are redundant and insufficient. He's gone.
Kelly Olynyk has shown great improvement in his sophmore year thus far. 51% shooting is plenty good enough. His rebounding totals are not good for a big man and need to be improved. I'm concerned about his ability to stay healthy. He hasn't had a bad injury history, but he's just so lanky. He's a full 4 inches taller than teammate Brandon Bass, but weighs 2 lbs less. Someone that tall needs a little more meat. This will increase his rebounding totals and keep him healthier (assuming it's the right kind of weight). I think they'll keep him and I'd like it if they do, just buy the man a Power bar or something once in a while.
Tyler Zeller needs to be on this team in two years. He's currently shooting 58% from the floor and 86.5% from the line. The C's are devoid of scorers and they need his presence on the floor. Per minute, he's almost as good as Olynyk on the boards but with so much more scoring potential. Now, take this with a grain of salt. He has a limited sample size, but these numbers are significantly above his career averages. Some regression is expected. But if his skills can be honed to produce like this on a regular basis, he's someone you want on your team.
James Young will probably be here, though they need to do a better job of developing him. Get him some minutes and work with him in practice. He can be a solid player.
Everyone else is as good as gone by 2017, probably by next year.
Now, you may have noticed something. There's a ton of 'good contributors' on this list. Not really any stars, definitely no superstars. Maybe 2 or 3 starters, 1 or 2 all-stars eventually. Realistically, need at least 1, probably 2 solid starters in the coming drafts. It's too early to predict the draft. Not sure who's declaring as eligible, not sure which picks the Celtics will keep, not even sure where some of those picks will slot.
One thing is for sure though, if they keep the guys above, they need a solid scorer and a good rebounding big man. Whether that comes through drafts, free agents, or trades, it needs to happen right now. They will need time to build chemistry, refine their individual games, and let the current stars in the East age a little more. With some good drafting, some good developing, a little luck, and a big trade or two, the Celtics could contend within 2 years. Is it likely? Not even close. But let's just stay positive here and make ourselves believe it will happen. It might make the next couple of years tolerable.