Celtics will go captain-less this season

For the fourth consecutive season, the Boston Celtics will hit the parquet without an official team captain. The team's last captain was floor-general Rajon Rondo, who led the Cs during Brad Stevens' first season as head coach, in the 2013-2014 season. Rondo was the obvious choice, as he headed a team of youngsters and aged role players. We would finish that season without a captain anyways, as Rajon was traded to the Dallas Mavericks for Jae Crowder, Brandan Wright, Jameer Nelson, and picks. Twas' a sad day for we Rondo guys, but ultimately, the trade helped us rebuild then's crumbling franchise into the Eastern Conference bulldogs that you see today.
So, there's no official captain, but we all know who the team's real leader will be. It'll be the 6'10" point-guard/center combo player, Al Horford, and here's why: he's the oldest guy on a team full of young players, who will need advice throughout the season; He was on last year's roster, which is a rarity with this group, so he'll be able to help with day-to-day routines, living in the area, playing under Brad, etc.; And, when on the floor, he's the epitome of a team player. We saw this last season with his passing ability and his assist numbers, but people fail to recognize the way that he helps his teammates defensively too. 

Cs' assistant coach, Jay Larranaga, who is also Horford's player coach, had this to say about Big Money Al's defense: 

I would say, on the court, people probably don't realize what an unbelievable help defender he is. You might see a blocked shot at the end of games, but it's how he is in the right position, always. He's covering for teammates constantly. I think people see how unselfish he is, offensively, but he is equally unselfish defensively, and has an equal impact on his teammates' performance.

And before yesterday's open practice, which turned into a mini All-Star weekend at the Garden, Stevens said, "I think the biggest thing is that sometimes when you name a captain or name a few captains, you can disempower others as much as you empower captains."

This makes a ton of sense, especially for this team in particular, because, realistically, a few guys on the roster could've been named captain. Along with Horford, the remainder of our Big 3 is qualified enough to be assigned leadership roles. Kyrie Irving is an NBA Champion and has had multiple, deep playoff runs, and Gordon Hayward captained the Utah Jazz last season on their way to a playoff birth. All three of these guys are leaders, so assigning just one as captain may make the others less likely to step up when leadership opportunities arise.

I like this captain-less strategy because this team is still figuring themselves out. They've only been playing with one another for like, a week now. It reminds me of when the great Team USA coach/tutor, Michelle McKay, said, "Don't forget that compared to other [teams], the [Celtics] are still young, still forming their identity. The [Celtics] are a teenager, just like you. A little awkward at times, but always right there on the verge of greatness." A very fitting quote for our Banner 18 run.

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Photo 1: Steven Senne, AP