Roundtable: Three reasons the Celtics will be more exciting this year than last year
Our roundtable series continues today, as we begin to focus on the 2014-15 season as opposed to the long term prognosis for the Celtics.
Today we're breaking down why the 2014-15 Celtics will be more exciting than their 2013-14 predecessors. Mike Dyer
1. Jeff Green is no longer the most exciting player
- Flashback to this time last year. Rondo was hurt, Bradley was still a question mark, Sully was coming off of back surgery. We were so desperate for, well, anything, that we were excited about Jeff Green (Full disclosure: I was in this group). Yikes. This year Green is probably not on many people's top five lists for exciting players on the roster. That is called progress people.
2. A healthy Rondo/Bradley pairing
- By my count Rondo and AB have been healthy at the same time for about 4 minutes since 2012. Think about it, AB didn't become a full time rotation guy until late in the 2011-12 season. He then hurt his shoulders and was out until January, 2013. Three weeks later, Rondo tears his ACL. Rondo comes back in February, 2014, only to see AB hurt his ankle two games later and play sparingly the rest of the way. We all think that these two play really well together, but we really don't know that for sure. This year we finally get both of them at 100%, and a very important question is finally going to be answered.
3. The young core is intriguing
- Jared Sullinger is 22-years-old, coming off a 13/8 season, and looks to finally be in good shape. Kelly Olynyk is 23, and coming off a second half in which he averaged 11/6 in 22 minutes per game while putting up a PER of 20. Marcus Smart is going to be a monster defensively right from the get go, and his energy is going to be a blast to watch. And James Young might start the season in the NBDL, but should get a chance to carve out a role at some point. No, the core is not quite at the "special" level..but it's definitely intriguing. I'm excited about it.
1. The backcourt of Rajon Rondo and Avery Bradley both starting the year 100% healthy.
2. As far as rookie first-round draft picks go, Marcus Smart figures to be a lot more fun to watch than Kelly Olynyk was last year.
3. Never-ending Rondo trade rumors. Regardless of your stance on this, it does promise to make the season more entertaining.
1. Marcus Smart. Nuff said.
2. A healthy Rajon Rondo out of the gate. It always helps when the team's best player is healthy. It'll be interesting to see how a healthy Rondo works with all the young guys. The intrique surrounding Rondo's future in Boston should also add some excitement to the year.
3. A true glimpse at Brad Stevens' system. Stevens pretty much ran whatever last season as he tried to get a feel of who he had and what they did, giving everyone touches instead of working a "system." Stevens has a much better idea of what he's got now and can start working on the identity of the team.
1. Contract Rondo: Rondo gets knocked for playing at a much higher level when he's on national TV. Well, the Celtics are on national TV once this year and it's against the Hawks in the middle of the season, so you can take TV Rondo out of the equation. He is, however, in a contract year, so I expect TV Rondo to show up a lot more even if it is only on CSNNE.
Undoubtedly, Rondo gets paid next summer but his play during season will determine how much and by whom.
2. The Kids: Let's just see how good Smart and Young are. The prospect of lottery (and near lottery) talent at the Garden this season is enough to get any basketball fan excited.
3. Jeff Green in a make or break season: Jeff Green was quoted earlier this week about wanting to grow into a leadership role. There have also been rumors/mentions of him opting out of his contract next year. His play is going to reflect which side he is leaning towards which is exciting in itself. What if Jeff Green becomes the Jeff Green we were all hoping he would be? Have we even considered this?
1. Marcus Smart. Duh.
As interested as I am to see how Marcus Smart plays, I'm almost more interested to see how Brad Stevens uses him. Particularly, how often we get to see him as apart a 3 guard lineup with Rondo and Avery Bradley.
Smart seemingly has the size and strength to be able to defend most small forwards, and the three would seem to be able to play off each other pretty well defensively; with Smart and Bradley providing tenacious on ball defense, and Rondo sliding back into more of a free safety role. Hard to not get excited about that.
2. How much will Sully's weight loss help him out?
Word on the street is that Jared Sullinger's been giving 25 minutes of his day to Shaun T. and has shed a few pounds. We've seen how Kevin Love was able to benefit from not having to carry the extra weight, I'm interested to see if Sullinger
3. Rajon Rondo in a contract year
Alias Sports Bureau, a completely fictional company that I occasionally cite, states that Rajon Rondo plays 800 times better when his team is on national TV. The bad news; the Celtics don't have many national television games. The good news? There's a whole lot of people doubting how 'valuable' Rajon Rondo is, and I'm guessing that doesn't sit too well with him. Storms a brewin