In the 2020-2021 NBA season, the Boston Celtics finished the season with a 36-36 record. The team was projected to be an elite contender for the Eastern Conference title but failed to live up to those high expectations. Boston had an unfavorable first-round matchup as they had to face the Brooklyn Nets and their big three. They proceeded to end up on the wrong end of a gentleman’s swept by the Nets. Afterward, it would be quite the offseason for the Celtics.
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The most intriguing move that was a catalyst for a big offseason, was the resignation and retirement of President of Basketball Operations Danny Ainge. Ainge would promote head coach Brad Stevens to the role, and in his first offseason, Stevens retooled the team. In a matter of days, the new President traded away starting point guard Kemba Walker. In return, the team received center Al Horford and Moses Brown. Brown would later be traded for Dallas Mavericks wing Josh Richardson.
The team would let go of fan favorites Tacko Fall and Carsen Edwards. The biggest signing of the offseason was the deal for Dennis Schroder. Schroder signed a one-year 5.9 million contract with the team. A complete steal of a signing as the stock of the guard is around the 15 million per year mark. The team decided to rebrand their bench, as they let their youth walk, and signed more veteran depth in a means to make a title run.
The Starting Five
PG – Marcus Smart
SG – Josh Richardson
SF – Jaylen Brown
PF- Jayson Tatum
C – Robert Williams
The team will continue their three-wing lineup, as Stevens really built the team for that playstyle. Stevens saw success with Tatum at the four positions. When Gordon Hayward was the team, the Celtics played well with the three-forward lineup. This lineup allows the team to play in a very versatile style of play. Not committing to the small ball or committing to the standard lineup. It should not come as a surprise that Brown and Tatum are in the starting lineup. Richardson should start for the team at the two positions as he can provide the much-needed shooting from the corner.
Starting Smart over Schroder to start the season makes sense for new head coach Ime Udoka. As Smart is the longest-tenured Celtic on the roster. Smart who is not the most consistent offensive scorer does provide everything you would want from a point guard. He is a great facilitator, as he has shown that he can playmaker at a high level. Smart is also an All-NBA defender, and in a star-studded guard league, he will provide much-needed stopping power against other starting guards.
The sixth man on this roster will start off with Schroder. He may eventually get a starting role depending on Smart and Richardson’s play. Having Schroder off the bench gives the Celtics a much-needed ball-dominant scorer. The guard is capable of dropping 20 points a night, or if need be become the playmaker to control the offense’s second unit. The team also has point guard Peyton Pritchard who had an incredible Summer League performance. Pritchard will also provide high-volume shooting and playmaking to the bench unit.
For leadership off the bench, the team brought back Horford. Although his current contract is less than ideal, his leadership and character are worth it. Horford will provide more playmaking and rebounding to the second unit that severely missed it last season. At the wing position, the team has Romeo Langford and Aaron Nesmith. Both players provide a specialty that should help the team’s second unit. Nesmith is a sharpshooter who could see more playing time in his sophomore season. As Langford is looking to finally play a full season. Both wings have a lot to prove this season and will be vital to the team’s success.
One Potential Move to Make
The Boston Celtics if they start to struggle should look into finding their third star to pair alongside Brown and Tatum. Rumors have been floating around that the team is interested in Minnesota’s center Karl-Anthony Towns and Chicago’s forward Zach LaVine. Both players would be fantastic to have and would make the team better overall.
The best move for Boston would be trading for Bradley Beal. Beal has been connected with Boston in rumors for the past two seasons. To which, this season could be the year the team pulls the trigger in acquiring the star shooting guard. Beal would provide an elite scoring option after Tatum. Beal is entering his final season on his contract with the Washington Wizards. He has shown his frustration with the team the past few seasons. However, he has been extremely loyal to the franchise that drafted him. The move would make the Celtics title contenders, but the deal would mean they would have to give up draft capital for the coming years along with some young talent and a large contract.
This team should be a top-four seed in the Eastern Conference. Having two of the top players under the age of 25 with winning experience in the playoffs is a high standard. Stevens rebuilt the bench to help their starting guys when they need rest. New head coach Udoka was praised by the NBA, by both players and former coaches he worked under. There should be high expectations for this team.
Coming off a disappointing year, the franchise should be interested in showing the league that they can be serious contenders. Although they are one piece away from being contenders at the same level as the Nets and Los Angeles Lakers, the Celtics should be a dark-horse candidate to win the Eastern Conference. Tatum’s expectations after a very media-heavy offseason should be that he finishes in the top seven for MVP this season. Brown should look to be a candidate for an All-NBA team. Smart is a heavy favorite to win defensive player of the year, while Schroder could be a sixth man of the year candidate.
Season Prediction: 48-34, Second in the Atlantic Division
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