Chasing 18: The 2015-16 Boston Celtics
By: Ben B.
Ah, November in New England. A month where the days get shorter, the weather gets colder and families come together. In the Boston sports world of today, November is synonymous with Brady, Belichick, and Brandon LaFell. Through the majority of the NBA’s 70 year history, the Celtics were the premier franchise. Legends such as Larry Bird, Bill Russell and Paul Pierce helped the Celtics win 17 Championships – which is the most of any franchise in NBA history. Those days are behind us and the team is looking to the future with Coach Brad Stevens at the helm.
This year the C’s are out to make a big step. The Celtics made some moves in the offseason with the acquisition of free agent Amir Johnson. Johnson is by no means a star, but he is dependable and a trustworthy option. With Amir Johnson you know what your getting, around 14 points and 9 rebounds. Amir Johnson is a great clubhouse guy, which is great for chemistry. He’s also been through the NBA D-League system, the league for players to develop before playing against the superior talent of the NBA and I like to think that makes him a humble guy. Also, Amir can absolutely get up, dunk the ball and put defenders on a poster. Another major move was David Lee, who was sent from the Warriors in a trade. Though he is not the player he used to be, Lee can still make an impact off the bench and he is a great teammate.
Other than those two moves, the majority of the Celtics offseason was quiet. Jae Crowder was re-signed, and I love Jae Crowder. Crowder is a defensive animal who was a part of a trade with the Mavericks from last December. Crowder had little expectations to make an impact, but he proved all of the doubters wrong, and was an important part of the squad. The Celtics re-signed Jonas Jerebko, who is the Swedish Larry Bird. Jerebko plays both the small and power forwards positions, he’s kind of slow, but he’ll drain from beyond the arc.
This season’s starting lineup can only be described as a platoon system. The front court could be made up of a combination of players like Jared Sullinger, who could be one of the most impactful players on the team, if he can just stay in shape. Sullinger has dealt with weight issues his entire life though he spent much of the offseason getting in shape. Kelly Olynyk could be a potential starter. He has a consistent plus/minus while he’s on the floor, but he just seems to under perform, and he seems to get lost out on the floor. Olynick is much better on Team Canada. David Lee and Amir Johnson could also be fighting for minutes, and of course there is Tyler Zeller. Zeller was the surprise of the season and actually could start.
The backcourt is all but decided as Marcus Smart at point guard and Avery Bradley at shooting guard. These guys are absolute workhorses. Arguably the best defensive guard combo in the league. This season Bradley looking to put the finishing touches on his offensive game but he is defensively sound. Smart was regarded as a top rookie last year and this season look for him to make a big step. He can drive, shoot, and defend like a pitbull. He puts numbers on the boards. If he can work out his outside shot and if he can develop his confidence so he’ll drive in the paint more, then I won’t be able to say anything negative about Marcus Smart. I just won’t do it.
For now Jae Crowder has a lock on small forward. There is just no one who could potentially overtake him, at least until James Young figures out how to shoot at the NBA level…
The Sixth Man
The first guy off the bench will be Isaiah Thomas, who was arguably deserved the Sixth Man of the Year award, which is given to the best bench player in the league. At 5 feet 9 inches, Thomas is undersized to say the least but he is the east coast king of the heat check.
The Final Predictions
So there you have it, that’s the rundown of our 2015-2016 Boston Celtics. Head Coach Brad Stevens is a star who makes his players better and he is the future of the franchise. Stevens is a winner and wants to make waves now. Don’t be surprised if the Celtics roll the dice and bring a star in before the trade deadline ends. It is still a reasonable expectation for the C’s to not only make the playoffs, but to be a higher seed in what is expected to be another down year for the Eastern Conference. After discussions with other Celtics fans around the school, the official Dragon Flyer expectation is as follows: 48 wins, and a 3 seed. My co-columnist Peter Gardner believes that a 5 seed is much more reasonable, but I believe in Brad and the boys. Is my prediction bold, of course it is. But tell your friends, this team will go places.