Finally! Now that the preseason is over, we have the real games to look forward to. But before we do that, it's time to take one last look back at the preseason. I asked our CelticsBlog team of writers what their biggest takeaway is from the preseason. To start, Jay Asser and I both were focused on the structure of the team.
My biggest takeaway is that there isn't as much offensive structure as I had expected there to be. I know college basketball is very different than the NBA, but I expected Brad Stevens to run a lot more sets for this roster. Considering the lack of elite talent, I think running efficient plays in the half court can help players maximize each player's respective skills. However, the Celtics seldom ran any organized half court sets, and instead opted for on and off-ball pick-and-roll plays. I'm not saying that this is a good or bad thing, but it's drastically different than what I had anticipated going into the preseason. Even after these past eight games, I'll still be surprised if we don't see more sets once the regular season starts rolling.
If you thought with a new coach, a new system and some new players that the jump-shot reliance on offense would stop, think again. This team will really find it difficult to score sans Rondo and even when the point guard returns, he won't be working with the same offensive weapons he's become accustomed to in his career. The hope is, as always, that Rondo will up his scoring and aggressiveness, especially because there is so much more room for error now. Outside Rondo, penetration won't come easily and he'll have to work hard just to carry this team out of the very bottom of the league in offense.
As Jay says, things will still be different even when Rajon Rondo returns. Speaking about Rondo, Josh Zavadil and Jack Jemsek have interesting thoughts regarding the point guards that will play his position until he returns.
Phil Pressey has a chance to be a viable option at point guard until Rondo returns. I was skeptical about Pressey's potential in Boston coming into the season, having watched him in college quite a bit, but he really seems to have taken a good approach to the beginning of his career as an NBA point guard. He has the chance to be the best true backup point guard the Celtics have had behind Rondo in a while, and that has to count for something.
This team cares, and that is heartening. I think they will grow on us, as long as they find an identity, hopefully on the defense end. I'm intrigued by Jordan Crawford efforts to be a leader in Rondo's stead. I like the finesse that Olynyk and Sullinger possess at their age, and I'm very pleased with the prospects of Faverani being a serviceable big man in the paint for the Celtics.
Jack believes that this team cares, but is caring really enough? Jeff Clark isn't so sure because of the lack of top-end talent.
Reality stinks. I think I have a tendency to think of our players in their best possible light. I remember the great games Jeff Green or Avery Bradley have and forget about the forgettable ones. The reality is, we have too many guys that are great sometimes and average most of the time. Basically, without steady contributors like Pierce and Garnett around, there's going to be great variability in production, which will make for some hard-to-watch games.
Like Jeff said, it's good to remember the best games from players like Green and Bradley, but it'll be hard to move on from legends like Pierce and KG. However, FLCeltsFan, wjsy, and Tim MacLean see potential bright spots on this team, especially Vitor Faverani and Phil Pressey. But wjsy has some concerns about that.
Vitor Faverani is for real. He's going to be fun to watch this season. Kelly Olynyk is going to be a good player. It's going to take a while for Jared Sullinger to get back to where he was. Jeff Green is still a disappointment. I like Gerald Wallace.
My biggest takeaway from this preseason is that the future in Boston is bright. Between Jared Sullinger, Vitor Faverani, Phil Pressey, and Kelly Olynyk, the Celtics have some solid building blocks in place right now. While they may not be first or even second options on any team, they're more than capable roles players that can make an impact on any given night. It's going to take a lot more than what we currently have but it's a start. I'm looking forward to seeing them get a full season under their respective belts.
It's very disconcerting right now that our best playmaker is a 5'11 undrafted rookie who was an afterthought going into this season. Everybody has shown flashes of dominance, but when it comes to "making your teammates better," only Phil Pressey has fit that bill. Gerald Wallace has played hard and got to the cup on sheer will alone, Jared Sullinger is rounding into shape and hitting the glass, and Kelly Olynyk has exhibited some poise and versatility, but the NBA game is all about forcing the defense to collapse and/or double team and in limited time, Pressey has consistently shown that he's a gamechanger. Let's hope mini-Rondo can bring it next week while Rajon is on the mend.
You've read our answers, but I want to know what you, the readers, believe is the biggest takeaway from the preseason. What stuck out most to you? Did anything surprise you? Encourage you? Disappoint you? Comment below with your thoughts!