This roster is not completed. Yes, Danny Ainge got the roster down to 15 players and this is likely the team we'll be watching for most of the year, but this ins't the finished product by any stretch.
There's talent on this roster, but much of it is unrefined. There's a lot of duplication and some glaring holes and the depth chart is in flux. Rajon Rondo's contract situation looms over the team and with the way the contracts are set up, there's an unmistakable feeling that the team is focused on next summer.
The thing is, there's a whole basketball season to be played between now and then. We've got 82 games on the schedule over the next 6 months or so and the rules state that you have to play in all of them (though I'm sure Sam Hinkie would like to make an exception for his Sixers squad).
There's a temptation to feel like this is a lost season; a pointless waste of time until the real fireworks can begin. If the team isn't competing for a banner, some people consider that an abject failure.
Personally I can't operate like that. I like to enjoy the journey and look for the silver linings. There are going to be fun games and entertaining plays and wonderful moments this season. You just have to know where to look.
Call it spin if you like, but it sounds like Danny Ainge shares this attitude.
So as he explores trades that could accelerate the Celtics’ rise, he tries not to wallow in the frustration of the breakthrough deal that, so far, has been unattainable. "It would be complaining and whining about things that you really don’t have any control over," Ainge said. "The competition is fierce. There’s a limited number of superstars available to try to build around. The challenge is building through the draft. "But it’s also fun," he added. "I enjoy it. I really like watching our guys play. I’m really excited about the season and to see what sort of strides guys have made over the offseason and what our new guys can do, as well. I’m looking forward to it."
What is there to be excited about? I'm glad you asked. Here's 5 (or so) reasons.
1. Rajon Rondo is back. Ok, he was back last year and we aren't exactly sure when his first game is going to be and we aren't even sure how long he'll be around. Still, he's going to be on the court soon, wearing Celtics colors, throwing passes that few in the world can make, and (hopefully) looking much more like his own self now that he's another summer removed from his ACL injury. Ainge keeps saying that he's going to have his best season yet and his agent sure hopes so. If all I get out of this season is the Rondo that I remember, I'll consider myself lucky.
2. The Sully Show. I get the feeling that people outside of Boston have largely made up their mind already on Jared Sullinger. Maybe they are right and all we'll get from him is a minor improvement of what we've already seen. Perhaps I'm a few shades more than biased in this matter, but I think we'll see him take one of those big steps forward this year. He's just got that knack for getting boards and buckets that you can't really teach to those less skilled. What you can teach is spacing, pace, conditioning, and all the things that young players have to work through in their first few years in the league. This is his time, he's a focal point of the gameplan. Brad Stevens is going to put him in position to succeed and it is up to him to take full advantage of that. I think he's going to have a real nice season.
3. De-fense. De-fense. De-fense. Marcus Smart joins Avery Bradley in the backcourt and Brad Stevens is implementing a more aggressive, trapping style of defense. There's still a bit of a hole in the middle, but hopefully crisp rotations can cover up for some of that. Several players have pointed to the goal of being a top 10 defense in the league and that's not as crazy as it sounds. This could be a very stingy, opportunistic squad and that could lead to some transition buckets, which is always fun.
4. Three point party! If you haven't already read this from Kevin, go ahead and do so after you are done here.
Dear CelticsBlog readers, the Boston Celtics will be throwing a three-point party this season and you're invited! Boston will kick off their three-point barrage against Brooklyn on October 29 at 7:30 PM.
5. Random acts of greatness. Aside from Rondo, there are no superstars on this team, but there are a lot of guys that can have nights where they are unreal. There will be games where Jeff Green explodes for 35 or more points. Evan Turner is going to have a few nights where he can't miss. Avery Bradley could have a few nights where he just goes off. Jared Sullinger is going to be flirting with double doubles all year long. Rajon Rondo is a walking triple double watch. I mean, Marcus Thornton had a 42 point game last year! And have I mentioned Marcus Smart's defense in the last couple of paragraphs?
Bonus: Fireworks watch. There's going to be a trade this season. I can just feel it. It may not involve superstars coming or going, but something is going to shake loose. I know that the rumors game isn't for everyone, but I just love it. I love hearing about potential deals and playing with the trade checker to see if any of it makes any sense. I know that 90% of it is pure fiction, but sorting through the lies to get the nuggets of truth is all part of the fun.
So there's a lot of reasons to be excited about this season. After a long offseason, we are about to have basketball again. Forget about the future for a minute. Let's just enjoy the ride.