FiveThirtyEight is NOT impressed with Boston's future

Based solely on wins and losses, you could forgive FiveThirtyEight’s recent assessment of the Boston Celtics’ players ranking on their list of the 53 best franchise players in the league.

Only three players on the current roster made the cut, and the results might surprise you. However, when you take into account the results stem from the projections created by their CARMELO system, it becomes clearer why Marcus Smart - a CARMELO projection darling - clocked in as Boston’s highest rated player at 25, and Isaiah Thomas - Mr. Fourth Quarter himself - did not even make the cut.

Another major factor in their ranking was the expected projection over the next six seasons (including the current one), which explains why All-Star big man Al Horford checks in last of the three Celts ranked at number 50. The reasoning? Per FiveThirtyEight:

“Al Horford at No. 50! That’s probably not what the Celtics were hoping for when they inked him to a $113 million contract, but he’ll also turn 31 in June and his reputation has always (slightly) exceeded his numbers.”

Fair enough - six years from now, if Al is in the league, it’s pretty safe to say his best years will be several years behind him. But who else made the list?

You might expect Avery Bradley’s recent growth as a player to be enough to garner a spot on the list given he is yet to turn 26 (his birthday is a week from today, actually - felicidades, sir!), but, surprisingly, he did not make the cut. In fact, the only other player who made the list - and dead last at 53 - was a player included in the Rajon Rondo trade as salary match as much as for capabilities (assuming Danny Ainge’s prognosticative abilities were on par with the rest of the league’s).

Yep, you guessed right - Jae Crowder came in last.

Circling back to where we started, given two of these three (Al Horford and Jae Crowder) are STILL out injured, and the third (Marcus Smart) is just hitting his stride after missing several games, perhaps FiveThirtyEight was right when they said:

“Unsurprisingly, Boston has also failed to meet preseason projections as a team this year.”

which, if you recall, was not a particularly flattering assessment, at a mere 47 wins.

Is this what Boston fans should expect? Given the spate of injuries, could it be even lower? It’s not a fun thing to think about, but unless a move is made to improve the roster or the team regains and improves upon their renowned blue-collar chemistry that enabled them to exceed last year’s anticipated win total, this may be what plays out by season’s end.

Such a result would unequivocally be a significant step back for a franchise with big expectations and aspirations, and would almost certainly impede their quest to land another top-shelf free agent as they chase an unprecedented eighteenth championship. In the end, how the on-court action unfolds this year may have a lot to do with how the players and front office react off the court, particularly after this rough - but still superable - start.

Prove ‘em wrong, Boston. We know you can.

But will you?

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