A lot of stuff still needs to get sorted out this offseason and just about anything could happen next year. So I thought it would be fun to kind of set up bookends on what next might look like. A best case and worst case breakdown. The trick is, what's your definition of "best?" Is it winning as many games as possible or losing them? For the sake of my sanity and dignity, I'm going to stick with good old winning being the "best" case.
Rajon Rondo is healthy at the start of the season and all of a sudden he can shoot the lights out of the ball. He averages 18 points, 15 assists, and 6 rebounds per game (racking up dozens of triple doubles). Jeff Green is a stud 20 points per game scorer and an increasingly effective defensive presence. Bradley develops his corner 3 point shot and wins defensive player of the year. Sullinger averages a double double with zero back pain. Ainge convinces Greg Oden to sign with us and he plays all 82 games, establishing himself as one of the best young centers in the game. Olynyk wins rookie of the year as our 6th man. Wallace, Humphries, and Bogans all reestablish their trade value by playing solid minutes off the bench. Stevens turns out to be a genius and mixes and matches lineups and schemes that confuse opponents and dazzle coaches everywhere as they try to duplicate his success by mimicking his style.
The team shocks the world and enters the playoffs as the 5th seed. They knock off Knicks in the first round and take the Nets to a seventh game in the second round. (The Nets go on to knock off the Heat) The young Celtics enter the next offseason with one of the best, young lineups in the game, lots of tradeable assets, and future flexibility. (Andrew Wiggins turns out to be a bust anyway and Ainge picks up a player that slides down the draft board for no apparent reason and he turns out to be a future star).
Take all the above predictions and dial them down about 15%. Rondo is an All Star but not top 15 in the league. Jeff Green is off and on. The young guys are developing nicely but have their moments where they look their age. Stevens is forced to rely heavily upon Wallace, Humphries, and Bogans. The team still manages to work their way to a .500 record and 7 other teams in the East have sub-.500 records so the Celtics manage to squeak into the playoffs as the 8th seed.
The Heat humiliate us with a 4 game sweep, laughing all the way to a 3rd straight title. The Celtics end up with a terrible pick and Ainge stumbles and bumbles his way into bad trades that keep us locked into the "good enough to barely make the playoffs but not good enough to really compete" no-mans-land. Also, on the last day of the season Rondo gets seriously hurt again. So does Sullinger. Also, your dog passes away and you just got audited by the IRS.
Ok, I can't leave you like that. That's too dour. Let's go with a bonus best case.
Best Case Remix (Tank-a-licious):
Rajon Rondo's doctors convince him to sit out 2 months of the season. Stevens has the team fighting hard and learning a lot, but the wins don't come. They go on 2 different 15 game losing streaks when Green and Bradley suffer minor injuries that linger (but have no long term consequences). The Celtics trade Humphries and Wallace for two more big trade exceptions and another draft pick. The Celtics finish with the 6th worst record in the league and manage to win the draft lottery. Wiggins turns out to be better than LeBron.
Obviously the Celtics go on to pick up star players via trade and the draft and we win multiple banners in the new Dynasty era. Pierce and Garnett even come back to finish out their careers as Celtics.
Don't wake me. I'm happy in this place.