We always search for a theme to our season preview. Last year we went with The Walking Dead and pegged the aging Celtics as unstoppable zombies who would march to Banner 18. Unfortunately, the Celtics proved to be quite stoppable and I’m convinced zombies devoured all rational thought from our brains the night before we wrote that blog.
There are no championship aspirations this season. Most fans don’t even have playoff expectations.
That’s because your 2013-14 Celtics are… The Expendables.
Is it fair to say Danny Ainge would let two-thirds of this roster walk away without receiving anything in return? Kris Humphries, Vitor Faverani, Gerald Wallace, Brandon Bass, MarShon Brooks, Keith Bogans, Courtney Lee, Jordan Crawford, Phil Pressey and Jeff Green are expendable.
Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger and (maybe) Kelly Olynyk are the only guys with real value. And that doesn’t mean they’ll be here all season. They still might be traded!
This entire season is one big experiment. Danny Ainge is in full-blown mad scientist mode looking for ways to acquire the right players. The first part of that plan is a high draft pick in 2014.
Do yourself a favor and embrace the mediocrity.
Best case scenario
Chuck – For me, best case scenario translates into finishing with one of the worst records in the league and a Top 3 lottery pick in a coveted draft class. It’s possible because the Celtics will have to face a grueling November schedule without their best player, Rajon Rondo.
John – The best case is the Celtics get their “tanking” (I don’t know what else to call it at this point) out of the way with that ridiculous November schedule and the Rondo-less (most of, probably) December. By the time January rolls around the Celtics will have lost so much, that their hold on one of the five worst records in the league would be pretty solid. From there, the Celtics then start to find some cohesiveness under the newly 100% Rondo, and they put together a solid second-half run that blows away their first half with barely any effect on their draft status. If opposing announcers are saying in March “forget about this team’s record, you don’t want to be playing them right now,” then this scenario will be achieved.
Worst case scenario
Chuck – 1) This team gels, wins 35 games and sneaks into the 8th playoff spot. Aside from some extra playoff revenue, exactly how does that help us moving forward? 2) Rajon Rondo is traded. Unless Ainge gets back an elite player, I want Rondo on the Celtics for the next 5 years.
John -I’m not so worried about success as a “worst case.” I’m worried about utter, abject failure as a worst case. And by that, I mean these guys being SO bad that our “decent pieces” become totally un-salvageable. In this scenario, Jeff Green regresses, Kelly Olynyk becomes a “summer league has been,” and Rondo drifts off into that part of the either that allows Mike Felger to bleat “I told you so” on the radio.
Who will surprise us?
Chuck – Gerald Wallace. I loved his attitude this preseason. While most fans were refusing to criticize player performances because “it’s only preseason,” Wallace was blasting his teammates for lack of effort. He showed real leadership. If Wallace can stay healthy, he can be productive enough where another team might consider the 2 years and $21 million remaining on his contract at the trade deadline.
John- Vitor Faverani. He’s got the right attitude and some polished skills. He seems unfazed by the NBA stage, and he has impressed Brad Stevens, all of which adds up to some starting time at the 5, and some minutes to get out there and do some good things on the floor.
Who will disappoint?
Chuck – Brad Stevens. Just a gut feeling that surfaced when I read that he wants his big men shooting threes. I really, really, really hope I’m wrong here.
John – Jeff Green. It’s not really his fault. Part of it is our own expectations, and part of it will be the fact that he’s got almost no help out there. He’s not Kevin Durant or LeBron James, yet I feel like we expect him to do KD and LeBron things. If he’s got some good players around him that can stretch the floor and give him some room, he can be pretty good. He’s not, however, going to carry a team with his 1-on-1 play for very long. Sure, he can maybe do it for a game, or even a week or two. That makes him good. We want him to cross over to elite. He won’t.
Who is most likely to be traded?
Chuck – Kris Humphries. He’s a big with an expiring contract. I guarantee there will be a playoff contender with a need for rebounding. Whether they can offer Danny Ainge the right deal, who knows. Ainge can always let Hump walk at the end of the year and watch $12 million come off his books.
John – Yup, Humph is the guy. In a year full of questions, Humphries is the obvious #1 trade possibility.
Chuck – I predict Rajon Rondo will return to his pre-ACL injury form and stay a Celtic for the entire season. I also predict plenty of losses. How does 26 and 56 sound? The C’s will get themselves a prime spot in the draft lottery.
John – As this site’s resident optimist, I’m going with my best-case scenario as the way this season plays out. It won’t start great. We could be looking at the team getting its 10th win sometime in January.
So let’s say they get 9 wins before the new year. That means they’ll start January with a 9-22 record. January is another tough month with 17 games . I see 3 win-able games there on paper, with the possibility of a couple of more upsets. So we start February with at 14-36. With 32 games left, I say the Celtics rip off a 14-18 run… an almost .500 clip over the last 3 months of the season that shows that they’ve gelled, and that they’ve got some good pieces to work with.
The final result will be 28-54 record, good for one of the five worst in the NBA, which puts them in solid position for a top 3 pick while still feeling good about how the season ended.