Waiting for the next shoe to drop is taking some of the wind out of my sails. So I’m going to distract myself (and hopefully a few of you) by focusing on some other awesome things that have already happened that give me reason to smile this offseason.
1. Al Horford
This might be the most overlooked major free agent signing in a long time. We only had moments to appreciate it before we were focused on the Durant sweepstakes and then the "we’re not done" watch. So let’s take a step back and respect the Horford signing.
This is a really, really, really big deal folks! If only for the fact that we can finally put to bed that stupid legacy of "never signing a major free agent." But it goes well beyond that.
Horford is amazing at what he does. He’s a fantastic two-way player that makes the guys around him better. Don’t slide past that point just yet. Savor it like your favorite beverage. The Celtics have a lot of guys that are still developing and finding their way in the league. Each of them is going to have a little more space to work with, see the ball swing at just the right time, get a pick in just the right area, and find reliable help when their man beats them.
No matter what, this team is better than it was at the beginning of the offseason because of Al Horford, and we didn’t even have to give up any assets to get him!
2. Jaylen Brown
The 3rd pick of the draft was booed on draft night, not necessarily as a slight on him personally, but because people were expecting bigger fireworks.
Thankfully Summer League showed us some glimpses of why we should at least give the Celtics’ brass the benefit of the doubt for now.
This kid already has the attitude of a Celtic. He’s a hard worker ("I’ll rest when I’m dead") and a fearless attacker on both sides of the ball. He’s a highlight waiting to happen, but he’s also not afraid to put in the dirty work.
If nothing else, he’s going to find his way to the line by attacking the defense which could help get him some "easy" points and put the other team in foul trouble. Sure he’s got a lot to work on, but he’s got the body and the tools to be something special someday.
3. Terry Rozier
Here’s another draft pick that was met with surprise and skepticism on draft night a year ago. Many assumed that Danny Ainge reached on this pick (though reports after the fact indicated that he might have been rising up draft boards).
Rozier’s development kind of reminds me of Avery Bradley’s progression. Sitting most of their first years, they showed some glimpses of potential by the end of the year and showed out well in the summer league. Analysts, scouts, and Ainge himself have all pointed at Rozier as the guy that is carving out rotation minutes for himself for next year.
4. Guerschon Yabusele
Mark it down: Summer of 2016 is when the legend of The Dancing Bear was born.
He may not be on the roster this season, and he was yet another surprise pick (deemed a "reach" by many ...OK, including me), but this kid can play basketball. Feels kind of weird calling him a "kid" when he’s 6’8" and (at least) 240 pounds, but that’s just what he is. A young man that is only going to keep developing his game.
I don’t even know who to compare him to. He’s more muscular than Big Baby ever was but has those same nimble feet. He’s more explosive than Kendrick Perkins ever was but has that same intimidating size and snarl. The best green comparison I can come up with is The Hulk.
He needs to bring that same spring to the defensive end of the court, but he’s certainly got the size and agility to add that to his game with focus and effort. I could see us Celtics fans having a lot of fun with him in the coming years.
5. The Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have a new General Manager. He’s doing things the right way and he’s making good, solid moves for the future of the franchise. He rightly considers the lost picks to be sunk costs. He has no reason to tank, but there’s also no need to prove some kind of point by making quick-fix moves that save face in the immediate future (at the expense of the long term).
Th upshot is that the Nets are going to be very bad next season. I think they’ll win a few games, and they might even make a run or two that will scare Celtics fans. But ultimately they just don’t have the talent to compete in a league where talent rules.
Even better news is the incremental improvements by teams like the Sixers, Lakers, and Wolves. So the competition for the bottom of the standings should be a little lighter (though don’t rule out the bottom falling out of a team or two that currently has playoff hopes).
The 2017 draft class should be pretty stacked with difference makers at the top. So it is a good year to have the option of swapping picks with a team that looks to be really bad. (Oh yeah, and the 2018 pick shouldn’t be too bad either.)
So forget about the rumors for a few hours (or days if you prefer) and enjoy the Celtics offseason for what it has been already.