As I've read this blog and others, it's become clear to me that as fans we tell ourselves some real whoppers from time to time just to make ourselves "believe." Well I'm here to kill some of that; while it's fun to believe some of these things, it's time for a reality check.
I've started with Kelly, because this in my opinion is one of the biggest lies we tell ourselves, and we let ourselves slide on it. Looking at the Celtics roster as it sits, there's really not that much excitement to be had. This is obviously not a great team, probably not a playoff team, definitely not a contender. This stands in large contrast to the past couple of years, when there were big additions to the roster that gave us a chance for "one more run"... Think Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. This year there we don't have that, so we're trying to make it.
Now I know, KO tore it up in the Summer League. I know he looked like the second coming of McHale, and that's exciting. But we're blowing it way out of proportion, and it's just not fair to Kelly. To expect him to start at the beginning of next season is outrageous (barring some HUGE roster changes,) expecting him to even be our sixth man is probably a huge stretch. I think Kelly will be good, a bright spot on a bad roster, but he's not going to set the world on fire. He's not going to average 15 and 6 his rookie season. He's still got things he's got to improve one, and this season will be a long one for him as opposing players recognize the holes in his game, and take advantage of them. Kelly also lacks a mentor on this Celtics team (Bass?) and while we may hope his development is similar to Big Baby's, Sully's, or Powe's, without KG this could be an extended process.
Kelly Olynyk shows all the potential of being a really good stretch 4 in this league for a long time. Probably a starter on a good team someday. But to envision him as Kevin McHale is wishful thinking. To envision him as an instant stater, is just unfair. Let's just be honest with ourselves on this one, even Ainge when he drafted him said he saw Olynyk as being a good role player.
Rajon Rondo will be Better
I want to start this out by saying there is a big difference between "better" and "good". I think Rondo will be good next season, even coming off of injury, but I doubt he will be sensationally better. For starters he is presumably going to be the second scoring option on this team behind Green, and while I expect his scoring to go up, I expect his efficiency, defense, and ball distribution will suffer. It's going to take Rajon some time to get used to being a go-to scorer, and having to learn that coming off a big injury means a lot of growing pains along the way. I think Rajon can do it, but this season is going to be a rough one for him.
I also think his added output on the offensive end will limit him defensively. Expect to see Bradley pick up a lot of the slack on the perimeter, as Rondo lazily gambles for the ball, as his man goes around him. I'd expect to see Rondo's assist numbers drop as well. We traded the two best scorers on this team, and replaced them with average parts. I forsee it will be more difficult for Rondo to rack up his insane assist totals with players he doesn't know. Keep in mind, he'd played with KG and PP through the entirety of his career before last year (admittedly not his entire career with KG, but you get the point) that sort of familiarity was central to the Celtics gameplan, and it will take time to rebuild it.
Analytics is the Answer
I'm really big on Stevens and his prowess at the numbers game, but even I can admit that's not going to save the Celtics this season. Numbers only go so far before it becomes about the players you have on the court. One example of this is turnovers. The Celtics turned the ball over far to much this past season, and we traded our second best ball handler away this offseason. We've also refused to get a decent backup PG for Rondo to date. While analytics will help the Celtics get in the right places, and set them up to exceed, we're still going to turn the ball over.... a ton. We just don't have enough capable handlers on the roster as it sits, and numbers isn't going to change that.
The 40+ win Season
I'm not going to dwell on this for too long, because some people will just never admit that the Celtics aren't a playoff team anymore, and that's OK. That's what this post is for. We barely made 40 wins last season, and that was with a good, experienced head coach, two HOF's, and what was supposed to be the leagues deepest bench at the beginning of the season. I just don't think we've gotten better, in fact I'd say we've gotten a little worse, if only for Rondo and Sully coming off of injury. So I'd say we probably lose more games this season than last, which probably means less than 40... Just saying.
There are so many more lies we're telling ourselves, that I don't really have the space to write them all here (without making this a 2,000 word tome) so I think I'll break this into a bit of a mini-series.... Stay tuned for the next chapter, when I'll adress some of the following: Jared Sullinger, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley, Danny Ainge, the Eastern Conference, the playoffs, and more!
Thanks for reading and I look forward to your comments.