Regardless of what will happen into this season, the C's should have every reason to be optimistic. Despite the ill-timed injuries and bad breaks the Celtics have encountered, Ainge has positioned the team in a favorable situation heading into the next season whether it be to rebuild the team, or reload again. Let us talk about injuries. Rondo's injury is.. well bad. At first many thought that the season has already ended upon the breaking of that news that no one even expected to happen. Injuries did not stop there as the C's top rookie Sullinger and Barbosa also were declared out of the season subsequently. But the bright side? the C's performed better, not necessarily because of the absence of the aformentioned, but because the other players were given the chance to play. The number one beneficiary of that situation was Jeff Green, who continues to show that his contract shall not be labeled as "overpaid" but actually a "bargain." He continues to impress every fan that he is a keeper, and showcase the talent that many believe he has. Whatever happens, Jeff Green now may be a future SF of the C's, or an attractive trade asset for a superstar to be paired with Rondo.
That does not stop from there, Ainge also was able to secure bargain contracts of serviceable players such as Terrence Williams and Shav Randolph up to next season which is an A+ move considering the contribution that they can provide in comparison to their salaries. Lee and Bass also stepped up significantly. Especially in the last few games the C's played without KG, and Pierce sometimes, they undeniably increased their trade value. Jordan Crawford on the other hand is another product of Ainge's geniueses. Considering he was traded literally for nothing, Crawford was a steal.
Heading into the playoffs, the C's draft positioning would probably be from 16-18 depending on what will happen to the remaining games. The good news for the C's is that, although experts said that this draft is lackluster in terms of potential superstars, it is undeniably rich in serviceable big man which obviously the C's lack since Perk was traded to OKC. Some of the bigs in the C's range are:
Kelly Olynk 7'0" strengths: good perimeter shooting, good post moves
weaknesses: lacks rebounding and interior presence, lacks explosivenss
NBA Comparison: Spencer Hawes
Mason Plumlee 6'10" strengths: accurate passer, running big man, with interior presence, explosive
weaknesses: lacks post moves, no perimeter game, average to poor free throw shooting
NBA Comparison: Poor man's Blake Griffin
Isiah Austin 7'1" strengths: very young at 19 y/o, good perimeter shooting extending to the 3pt area, has high ceiling/potential, very good handles for a big man
weaknesses: needs to work on upper and lower body strength, needs to bulk up, another project big man
NBA Comparison: KEVIN GARNETT!
Gorgui Dieng 6'11" strengths: with nice post moves, an interior presence, with improving perimeter game, long wing span resulting to good defensive potential
weaknesses: a role player at best, low ceiling, lacks explosivess
NBA Comparison: Sam Dalembert
Depending on Ainge's perspective, one of those bigs will be chosen for the C's pick (if it will not be traded). Personally, I will choose Austin because of his potential. I think it is rare to find a prospect like him. It would be an ideal situation especially for the C's if he will be under the tutelage of none other than Kevin Garnett who has the same brand of play as Austin's. He just need to bulk up a little and I see him to be a starting C or PF for the C's. Looking back to all what happened, everything that occured for the C's this season, whether negative or positive, have positioned themselves to create a championship team to chase another banner. Considering the return of Rondo and Sullinger next season, the emergence of Jeff Green and the other role players, the C's draft pick, the possible return of Pierce and KG (hopefully), and.. uhm.. just give me this one, the free agency of Josh Smith (c'mon Rajon ol' pal!)..
.. Celtics baby, all day.
Let's have a nice bar fight this playoffs! Go C's!