We are far too early into the season to make any grand pronouncements (20 game rule and all that). However, I’ve started developing a working theory about this year’s Celtics team.
This roster is designed to make up for the lack of top tier superstar talent by having a lot of good, quality rotation players that give us great depth. So, in theory, when other teams have to go to their bench and fill in minutes with net-negative players, the Celtics can keep coming at you with waves of positive role players. Last year that was evident in particular on the defensive end of the court.
The problem so far this season is that we haven’t had a fully healthy roster and at various intervals the team has been missing 4 of our top rotation players, including 2 starters (one of whom is arguably our best all-around player). So that depth advantage has been taken away, thus leveling the playing field and putting us at or below the level of teams that many predicted would finish behind us in the standings.
The good news is that we can reasonably hope that these injured players can return to full health and over the course of the entire season we’ll see something more resembling the product that we expected entering training camp.
The worry that I have is that regular season success doesn’t always translate to playoff production. The Hawks 60 win team from a couple of years ago is a good, recent example of this. They thrived in the regular season due to great ball movement, good defense, roster depth, and versatility. But when it came time to play the LeBron-led Cavaliers (who struggled at times during that season), they were swept right out of the playoffs (sound familiar?).
I love the depth of this team and the lunch-pail character of the players on the roster. However, I would gladly trade a lot of that depth (and some future assets) for a star that we could rely upon to get us buckets even when we’re short a couple pieces.
Perhaps this is worrying too much based on a small sample size. After all, any team that loses an All Star and several rotation players to injury is going to struggle early on. I’m also putting the cart before the Clydesdale in assuming that we’ll actually have regular season success.
Finally, I’m perfectly aware that I may be guilty of confirmation bias. I’ve been on the “we need another star” campaign for a long time. We still have to wait and see which star players (if any) becomes available and when.
There’s not a lot of downside to having a solid season with some playoff success. I just hope that some time in the next 8 months we’ll be able to upgrade to top end of our roster so that we aren’t as dependent upon the middle of it.
Since this is a working theory, I’ll just leave it at that and allow you to add your own color to this conversation in the comments section below.