We published the season previews for the Celtics a mere 6 months ago. With 11 games remaining in the season, how much has changed in our perceptions and how much did we pretty much know going in?
In that article, under the section for weaknesses, I listed a bunch of questions about the team that I wanted answers to. Let's take a look through them one by one and see if we've got definitive answers, shall we?
In my mind, the biggest difference between star potential and legit star is simply consistency. There will be nights when Jeff Green looks like a star, but can he keep it going night-in-and-night-out for a whole season?
In a word, no. To me, the ship has sailed on Green ever being a "star" but I'm happy to take the occasional 39 point outburst from him. The ups and downs average out to a solid 16.8 points per game at his current usage. At the very least he's a legit scoring threat on the court, and that's valuable. I wouldn't be surprised if he's dealt this offseason but I wouldn't mind seeing him back with the team either.
Can Bradley develop his offensive game enough to keep his defense on the floor as much as possible?
I would give this an emphatic yes. Again, he's not a scoring machine by any means, but he's improved vastly on offense and in particular his shooting. Even when the shots aren't falling, he's shooting with confidence and forcing the defense to respect his range. We know that he can be a lock down defender, but he's rounding out his game nicely. Hopefully he can be re-signed for a reasonable contract this offseason. I enjoy having Avery Bradley as a Celtic.
Can Brooks and Olynyk prove themselves on defense enough to contribute their scoring on offense?
Brooks never proved anything and ended up being a trade throw-in. Olynyk, on the other hand, has had his ups and downs this year but his offense is coming along and to my untrained eye I think he's improved his defense little by little. He lacks the strength and athleticism to ever be an elite defender but hard work and commitment to a team defensive concept can make a poor defender into a passable one. Time will tell.
Can Sullinger put his off court problem behind him and develop into a force on the court?
The domestic incident that caused so much commotion back in the Fall simply isn't mentioned anymore. It has been forgotten and most likely forgiven by the majority of fans. He was contrite in his apology, owned up to his mistake, and probably took some verbal licks from his father. All of that goes a long way. There's no excuse for his behavior, but people make mistakes and we've all moved on.
On the court he's been dominant at times and ineffective at other times. Chalk a big portion of that up to conditioning as he never really got into proper shape after his surgery. Chalk another portion of it up to being a guy who's only been in the league for a season and a half. I'm still expecting big things from a more toned Sully next season.
Can Brad Stevens make the transition to the NBA game and adapt to the nuances in time to make a positive impact on this year?
Celtics Season Preview: Lookin' like a bridge year
We've still got Rajon Rondo and some good young pieces as well as a few could-be-good pieces from the Nets. So we aren't openly tanking like the 76ers. But we aren't good enough to compete for a title. How you look at it kind of depends on your point of view.
It is still early and the wins didn't come as fast as I'm sure he would have liked, but I'm perfectly happy with the job he's done so far. He's got the guys working hard, focusing on developing winning habits, and developing a lot of confidence in themselves. His even keel attitude seems to be rubbing off on the players and they seem to take things in stride.
As Ainge provides him better players it will be interesting to see how he adapts and tweaks the system accordingly. Once expectations rise, we'll see how well he can rise to the occasion and continue his own development as a coach.
At the end of the article I included a bonus question:
Does Rajon Rondo HAVE to be traded as Mark Stein and others have suggested?
My tl:dr answer was "no," and I'm very happy/relieved to have been right. Rondo is still here and lo and behold we're still in the lottery (with a legit shot at one of the top 4 or 5 picks). Could we have shaved a few more wins off the books by trading Rondo for picks and spare parts? Maybe, but I can't imagine what kind of package would have been worth going through that trouble.
Of course we'll see the rumors start up again this summer as Danny Ainge has some big decisions to make about the direction of the team. But for the moment, Rondo is still a Celtic and aside from conditioning and some soreness after games, he's looked much like the Rondo that we know and love.
By the way, there's another article where each author predicted how many wins the team would get this season. It also included a poll at the bottom. The leading vote getting range was "25 to 32 wins" with 39% of the vote. Right now the Celtics have 23 wins and 11 games left to reach the lower end of that range.
We'll do a more in depth review of the season once it is actually over, but I thought this was an interesting look back.