A season that started with an unfortunate injury to Gordon Hayward in the first quarter of opening night, ended with a disappointing showing against the Cavs in Game 7. Not to be overshadowed though the Celtics provided their fans and the city with a ton of enjoyable moments throughout the season.
Baynes' tenure with the Celtics started off with amazement after Tommy Heinsohn caught a glimpse of the Aussie in the locker room, and his play on the court was impressive as well. Baynes, who is a unrestricted free agent this summer, provided the frontcourt with needed rebounding and toughness. The 31-year-old could make more money on the open market, but if the two sides can come to an agreement, Baynes could be a key piece to the C's rotation next season.
Brown made a huge leap with added playing time in his sophomore campaign. It will be tough to forget the stinker he put up in Game 7 of the Eastern Finals (5-of-18 shooting) but the fact remains Brown was extremely productive throughout the playoffs. His name will probably pop up in outrageous trade rumors this summer, but the Celts should be hesitant to involve Brown in any deal. He continues to improve offensively and has shown to be one of the teams' better players on the defensive side of the ball.
Summer to do list: Free throw shooting
Al Horford: B plus
Regular season: 12.9 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 4.7 APG
Playoffs: 15.7 PPG, 8.3 RPG, 3.3 APG
Lets make one thing clear; Horford will never live up to his contract. Which (for now) doesn't seem to be an issue with the Celtics. Horford's importance to the team was clear during the playoffs as he was a plus 70 throughout the postseason. He certainly could be more aggressive at times, especially in the Cleveland series, but Horford saw constant double teams throughout the Eastern Finals, causing him to get rid of the ball quickly. Horford outplayed Joel Embiid as well as (insert Milwaukee Bucks) big man in the first two rounds of the postseason.
His ability to play the point at times during the year was also a pleasant surprise.
Summer to do list: Improve Quickness
Shane Larkin: C plus
Regular season: 4.3 PPG, 1.8 APG
Playoffs: 3.7 PPG, 1.8 APG
Not much was expected of Larkin when he was signed during the offseason. The 25-year-old turned out to be a spark plug off the bench. Losing Larkin to injury during the Sixers' series showed its importance when Terry Rozier and Marcus Smart needed a rest.
When the Celts signed Monroe in February he was thought to be part of the rotation going forward. The center played well in 26 regular season games for the C's, but sat on the bench for most of the playoffs. His defensive ability, including his slow feet, leaves much to be desired.
Morris played decent throughout the year for the C's. The former Jayhawk should see less playing time once Hayward returns, something the hard-headed forward might not exactly be pleased about. That toughness though is what makes Morris (and Marcus Smart) valuable members to a title contender's bench.
It would be nice if Morris passed the ball once in a while to be honest. Too many times Morris became a black hole on offense.
Semi was an afterthought coming into training camp last September. Instead, the former SMU star showed his worth as a defensive stopper, even earning a few starts in the playoffs.
Summer to do list: Three-point shooting
Terry Rozier: B
Regular season: 11.3 PPG, 4.7 RPG, 2.9 APG
Playoffs: 16.5 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 5.7 APG
Rozier became a cult hero during the playoffs as "Scary Terry" dominated the Bucks and Sixers throughout the first two rounds. His terrifying 0-for-10 performance from behind the arc in Game 7 against the Cavs is difficult to overlook but that should not overshadow Rozier's play in the postseason. The three-year veteran was exciting to watch throughout and his 109/22 assist to turnover rate in the playoffs was his most impressive stat.
With the return of Kyrie come training camp, Rozier will be sent back to the bench. One has to wonder if Rozier can produce in an efficient manner while out of the starting lineup. With that in mind the Celts should consider shopping him this summer as his value has never been higher.
Smart is the type of player NBA championship teams need. A hard-nosed, scrappy guard who fills the stat sheet with good and bad. Whether it is diving on the floor, grabbing an unexpected rebound, or getting under the skin of the opponent, Smart bring a handful of skills not found too much in today's NBA.
After punching a mirror in Los Angeles in January, Smart missed 12 games and the team went 7-5 without him. When Smart returned in late February the C's won four straight and six of seven. His worth is certainly high, but his recent comments about wanting to make more than 12-14 million per season is a major cause for concern. The Celtics future payroll will be inflated with Hayward, and Hoford's salaries, plus the certain re-signing of Irving. Also, Brown and Jayson Tatum should expect to make a pretty penny in a few years.
Fortunately Danny Ainge and the C's have some say with Smart's future as he is a restricted free-agent.
Ainge and management have to look in the mirror (one that isn't broken) and ask if they want to commit big money to a player that can't shoot (36 percent from the floor, 30 percent from three). The thought that Smart may not have to shoot much next year with a healthy squad could factor into Ainge's decision.
Smart is the ideal sixth or seventh man but bench players shouldn't make more than 10-12 million per season. If a higher offer is available on the open market for Smart, it's very possible that the former Oklahoma State Sooner has played his final game with the Celtics.
Summer to do list: Shooting, shooting, shooting
Daniel Theis: B minus
Regular season: 5.3 PPG, 4.3 RPG
Theis, like Larkin and Ojeleye, wasn't supposed to contribute much to the 2017-2018 Celtics. Instead the German showed his skills as he shot 54 percent from the field, including 31 percent from deep. Depending what the Celts do with Baynes, Theis should see some decent minutes next season.
The "Dancing Bear" was entertaining on the court and on the bench, but will have a tough time cracking the lineup next season.
Summer to do list: Shooting, Conditioning
Kyrie Irving: A
Regular season: 24.4 PPG, 5.1 APG
Irving lived up to all the offseason hype and then some. As a diehard Celtics fan I would be lying if I said I watched a ton of Irving when he was on the Cavs, besides his match ups against Boston. But the former Dukie gained many new fans in the city including myself. His handle (I call it handle, I'm old school) is second to none and could possibly be the best in NBA history. His ability to score wherever and however was the most impressive aspect of his game. He made difficult shots look easy. Those who, for a second, thought the team was better with Rozier running the show are out of their minds. Irving is a beast, and was needed more than ever against Cleveland. If the Celtics have Kyrie throughout the playoffs, they are fighting right now for Banner 18 against the Warriors.
Leaving the best for last. Tatum was unreal in the playoffs and showed that the future for the C's is brighter than the sun at high noon. The 20-year-old should be a staple for the green for years to come. No Celtics rookie since Larry Bird has made such a splash in his rookie year as Tatum. Not Paul Pierce. Not Antoine Walker. Not Jaylen Brown. Not Jerome Moiso (just kidding). During Game 7 against Cleveland Tatum WAS the offense and should have been fed more down the stretch.
It's difficult to find holes in Tatum's game, but he will have to add some muscle during the offseason. Expect him to be a regular addition to any All-Star team going forward.
Summer to do list: Improve Ball-handling
Brad Stevens: A
The Celtics' coach has been praised all season, all which is well deserved. It would be tough to find a coach that could guide his team to 55 wins with all the injuries sustained to key players. In the playoffs Stevens coached circles around Joe Prunty and Brett Brown. Stevens' play calling at the end of Game 3 against Philly may have been his best work.
You could question Stevens' decisions in the Cleveland series. Certainly in Game 7 where Tatum should have been the only focal point of the offense down the stretch and putting a freezing cold Rozier in towards the end left some scratching their heads.
Stevens though continues to improve every season and should have his team ready to chase a title next season.