On ESPN’s “NBA Future Power Rankings”, the Celtics landed third behind only the Cavaliers and the Warriors, who are hoarding together nine All-Stars between the two teams. The teams were graded on a scale of 0 to 100 based on the following categories: Players, Management, Money, Market, and Draft. The Celtics’ overall points were 70.6, and they were in the top 10 in every category except for Market, in which they ranked 14th. The acquisition of Horford moved the Celtics players’ rank from 15th to 5th, and with the Nets pick looking great in a loaded draft class, only the Sixers had a higher draft rank. Overall, the idea of future lottery picks, a contending roster, and a smart management core lead the charge on a bullish Celtics projection.
This is just the latest piece of encouraging information for the Celtics. Since the acquisition of Al Horford, experts have seemed to shy away from thinking “Ainge must make a move now”, and they are starting to appreciate the structure that has been building since the day the Celtics shipped Pierce and Garnett to Brooklyn. If you’re anything like me, the high expectations are both welcoming and a bit scary. On one hand, it’s nice to see the team moving up the ranks and into discussion as one of the top teams in the league. However, with that comes the expectations to perform to a certain level. This means that when the team is being evaluated, they’ll be judged as the team with the second-best chances to get to the conference finals in the East. Losses will be judged harshly, the landscape of games that “you’re supposed to win” widens, and the idea of being the fun start-up slowly disappears. Is a team who’s still relying on internal developments from players years away from their primes really worthy of such lofty expectations? Who knows. But November 2nd couldn’t come soon enough.