The Celtics have had one of the best head starts on the offseason, being one of the first eliminated after losing in 5 games to the Brooklyn Nets. Not even 12 hours after losing Game 5, Danny Ainge stepped down from his position of President of Basketball Operations, and Brad Stevens made the move from head coach to fill Ainge's vacant seat. While these are the the first of presumably many offseason moves for Boston, these are moves that the players can do nothing about. However, there are some things that the players can have a say in: their own improvements to their game. Here is a list of the biggest improvements that all of the players on the Boston Celtics' roster can make.
This list includes players that were on the roster as of Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. There will undoubtedly be moves to this roster, and we can address those as they happen. But for now, we will assume that there are none.
Let's begin with the starters.
Out of the 72 games the Celtics played this season, Kemba Walker only played in 43 of them. He didn't play in the second half of back-to-backs. While he faced criticism for his scoring at times, his glaring issue this season was his health, specifically his left knee. His struggles with his knee can be traced back all the way to the bubble, where he missed time there as well. Kemba is a great player, and he can help the Celtics a lot. But, if he can't stay healthy, I really don't see the point of paying him $36M next season. Offseason Goal: Get Healthy, Don't Regress
This season, JB averaged career highs in almost every category, including shooting, assists, steals, FG%, and 3P%. His ascension to NBA All-Star status was one of the brightest spots for the Celtics this season. His level of play at the beginning of the season made him seemingly better than Jayson Tatum, although he cooled down once the season approached the All-Star Break. JB's timetable for recovery after wrist surgery makes him ready for the tip-off of the 2021-22 season, but no exact date is known. If Jaylen can continue his rise to stardom, keep up the consistent and efficient numbers, and be the best #2 option in the NBA, he'll have exceeded expectations. Offseason Goal: Get back to 100%, Keep Improving
A pending UFA, Celtics fans are hoping that there is mutual interest between Evan Fournier and new Pres. of Basketball Ops. Brad Stevens (that feels so weird to say). After Boston's Game 5 loss to Brooklyn, Evan had this to say:
Evan Fournier on free agency: "It's a very hard question to answer because the emotions are really hard right now with the playoffs and in three weeks I have national team training camp...It's an A+ organization and they were really excited to get me and showed me a lot of love."
Take this how you will. My guess would be that Evan re-signs, but that's a topic for another day as we get closer to free agency. From what we saw in his 21 games with Boston, the biggest issue that needs addressing has nothing to do with his game. All that he needs is time; time to mesh with the team, build chemistry, and get the system nailed down. The nice thing, however, is that he, as well as his teammates, will likely have to learn a fairly new system together. Once they do that, I feel that he will be as effective as he was in Orlando, a solid contributor to a team looking for a deep playoff run. Offseason Goal: Mesh with Team/System, Get Comfortable
What a year from Jayson Tatum. With the injuries to key players late in the season, he became the clear #1 option, with a supporting cast ranging from Kemba Walker to Jabari Parker. Was he ready for it? Some would argue yes, some would argue no. But, if we know one thing, it's that he gave it his all. I don't have many suggestions for JT this offseason, so I'll keep it short for our 2x All-Star. Offseason Goal: Rest Up, Get More FTs
Timelord took a huge leap this year, and has put himself in position to be the clear choice for the starting center job next season. His impact on the floor can easily be seen, and his rim protection is something that the Celtics clearly missed in his absense. But, in games against the' elite centers of the NBA, (Embiid, Jokic specifically), they exploited his youth and inexperience, getting him to bite on almost any shot or pass fake imaginable. But, I think Rob will be here for the long haul, perhaps even bagging himself an extension this offseason. His durability will be the main factor in that decision, though. Offseason Goal: Hit the gym, Smarter Rim Protection
And now, the bench.
(Photo by John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
The heart and soul of the Celtics has one flaw in his game and it drives Celtics fans insane: His 3pt shooting. Marcus shot 33% from deep this season, but as we always say "You live by the (Smart) 3, you die by the (Smart) 3. That's really the main issue that many have with him, and that's the reason why so many fans wanted him traded at the deadline. But, his defense and hustle are too valuable to be moved if you ask me. So, this is what Marcus should focus on this offseason: Offseason Goal: Higher 3P%, Stick to a Role
For his first year on the team, Tristan was pretty solid. Not what many expected, but still solid. Once the center rotation was freed up a bit after the Theis trade, he really started to show his true value to this team. His solid double-double performance in Game 3 of the First Round showed what he was capable of. He's a solid bench center, and as good of a mentor as you could have for Robert Williams. Offseason Goal: More PIP, Accept Vet/Mentor Role
What an absolute FIND for Danny Ainge in his final draft, eh? Payton played the most games of anyone on the roster (66), and likely would have played all 72 if not for his right MCL sprain. For a rookie, he was the most consistent player on our bench, earning critical minutes because of his dependable play, deep ball, and passing. Although he may not shine in the spotlight like some of the top rookies in his class do, he is certainly one of the most polished, and gave the Celtics a rookie season that no one could complain about. His 4 year stint at Oregon is really paying off! Offseason Goal: Keep Improving, Learn to Lead
Another great find from Ainge. He's become a lot more than the pure, knockdown shooter that we knew we were getting when we drafted him at #14. His promising defense and hustle are reminiscient of our own defense and hustle "genius", Marcus Smart. Nesmith, alongside his rookie counterpart, Payton Pritchard, both look to have bright futures here with the Celtics, and I can't wait to see Aaron's development, hopefully with a larger role off the bench next season. Offseason Goal: Be the best 3&D player possible
Grant certainly took a step back this season, going from a valuable piece in the ECF rotation to someone who bounced back and forth between DNP (Coach's Decision) and 20mpg efforts. His shooting numbers went down this season, his poor 3pt shooting stood out especially at an ugly 25%. I'd say Grant experienced a pretty strong case of the sophomore slump, and I hope he can bounce back next season. Offseason Goal: Put in the Work, More Consistency
It took what seemed like forever to get Romeo back from his wrist injury, plus a brief detour with COVID. But, when he did come back, Romeo showed that he belongs on this team, especially so in the postseason. His numbers are nothing impressive (yet), but his defensive play against Kevin Durant and a career high 17 points in a game in the Brooklyn series have given us hope for his future with the C's. Offseason Goal: Become defensive nuisance, score more!
Jabari Parker was a surprising but welcome addition to the team when he signed a 2-year deal after the trade deadline. He started strong in his first few games, but seemingly went MIA until the playoffs when his number was called to fill the void in minutes left by Jaylen Brown, Kemba Walker, and Rob Williams. He showed promise on the offensive end, but his defensive left much to be desired. The second year of his contract isn't guaranteed, so Jabari will look to continue elevating his game to earn a spot in the rotation next season. Offseason Goal: Brush up on Defense, More aggresive offense
No dramatic growth from Carsen this year, which could be expected for a borderline G-League player only getting an average of near 9 minutes per game. His 4 points a night were of very little help to the Celtics. The only way I see Carsen making the rotation next season is if he makes a massive jump to a much higher level of play. There really isn't any other way. Offseason Goal: Make the jump!
Coming in as the 3rd string center, Luke's 3 point shooting is what makes him an interesting candidate for the rotation next year. His play style was attractive to Brad Stevens, who had apparently been eyeing him for some time. Now that Stevens is gone, however, does that put Kornet on the hot seat? Kornet needs to have done all he can to secure a new deal with the C's this offseason. Offseason Goal: Be a sponge on the court, more 3's!
Semi has had a down year for sure; some might argue that he peaked in his rookie season. His play style isn't something that the Celtics need much anymore, his role can be played by guys who already demand more minutes. If there was one goal I think Semi should set himself, it's this: Offseason Goal: Expand his game!
The first of the two way guys, Tremont's showing in Boston could've been better. His accolades in the G-League in his rookie season (G-League ROTY, 3rd in MVP voting) made him an enticing candidate for a spot in the rotation this year, but it never panned out. I only have one goal/one message for Tremont. Offseason Goal: Stick to the Grind!
Last, and certainly not least (He's 7'5, come on!) is Tacko Fall. Tacko's 2 year run in Boston so far has been magical for some, but probably not for him. While his per-36 numbers are mind-blowing (trust me, look them up), it's a matter of getting more consistent minutes that lies ahead of "Big Tack" at this point. Some, including myself, hope he can get a similar role as Boban Marjonovic, big numbers in small minutes, but only time will tell there. My goal for him is this: Offseason Goal: Expand Game, Show Promise!
And that's it... all 15 (+2 Two-Way) players for the Boston Celtics. All of them have goals, some similar to my list, some completely different. Will they pay off? Who will be back on the roster next year?