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Are the Celtics a better team than last year?

Let’s break it down piece by piece

Boston Celtics v Washington Wizards - Game Three Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images

If you are still a little dazed and confused from all the offseason transactions, you aren’t alone. It is worth repeating: There are only 4 players left from last year’s team. With all the signings and trades, it kinda sorta seems like we got better (Hayward alone makes that likely), but we also lost some really good players. So are the Celtics actually more talented?

It may help if we break it down, pitting players from next year’s team against last year’s squad. Here’s how I see it shaking out.

Isaiah Thomas vs. Kyrie Irving

Irving is younger and you could argue that he’s the better player overall. With that said, this exercise is about last year’s team vs. this year’s team. So Kyrie would need to be a top-5 MVP candidate to reach the level of the King in the 4th.

Edge: Thomas

Avery Bradley vs. Jaylen Brown (2nd year)

Jaylen Brown is poised to make a big step forward this year and could very well be the starting guard next to Kyrie. But he’s got a way to go before he’ll match Avery’s two-way impact on the court.

Edge: Bradley

Jae Crowder vs. Gordon Hayward

I love Jae, but there’s a reason why Boston fans were cheering for Gordon. As good as Crowder was for the money, Hayward is a clear upgrade.

Edge: Hayward

Al Horford vs. Himself

Horford is a year older but also has a full year under Stevens to know what his exact role is.

Edge: Call it a wash.

Amir Johnson vs. Aron Baynes

I like Amir more than most, but he was mostly spent last year. Baynes is younger and has the potential to have a bigger impact (even if only slightly).

Edge: Baynes

Marcus Smart vs. Himself

Hmmm, “Marcus Smart vs. Himself” could be the title of a future article if he can’t take another step forward this year. I’m hoping that he’s at the top of his game in his contract year. As usual, all he has to be is not-terrible at three-pointers.

Edge: Get that money Marcus!

Terry Rozier vs. Himself

I’m still trying to figure out Rozier’s role on this team, especially if Brown sees a lot of time at the 2. He has some good upside but needs to reduce his mistakes and learn how to change speeds.

Edge: Toss up.

Kelly Olynyk vs. Marcus Morris

As maddeningly inconsistent as Kelly was, he was always a threat to bomb away, and so defenses had to respect that. He also knew where to be and how to fit into the offense. Morris isn’t as good of a shooter, but he still needs to be respected and probably has a more well-rounded game.

Edge: call it a toss up (this is a cop out because I need to see Morris more)

Gerald Green vs. Jayson Tatum

Here are two guys who let it fly on offense and aren’t exactly defensive stoppers. Green is a seasoned vet while Tatum has more upside.

Edge: Green for now, but only because I set low expectations on rookies

Jaylen Brown (rookie) vs. Guerschon Yabusele

Brown was hit or miss in limited minutes as a rookie, and I’d expect the same of Yabu.

Edge: Again, low expectations for rookies so let’s call this a wash

Deep Bench: Jerebko, Zeller, Mickey, Young, Jackson vs. Ojeleye, Nader, Theis, Larkin, TBD

This year’s bunch is younger, and I could see each of them spending time in Maine and taking a turn in the rotation as Stevens experiments or plugs in guys to backfill when top rotation guys miss a few games. Not sure if anyone will have the occasional impact that Jerebko did.

Edge: Nobody cares

Final Tally:

Last Year’s team: 3
Next Year’s team: 3
Too close to call: 5

This ended up being a lot closer than I had originally thought. A lot ultimately depends on how much Brown, Tatum, Smart, and perhaps even Rozier progress this season.

It is also worth noting that this is all just an on-paper comparison. A lot depends on how the pieces fit together and play off each other. That’s the job facing Brad Stevens.


Are the Celtics a better team now?

This poll is closed

  • 69%
    (1752 votes)
  • 8%
    (212 votes)
  • 21%
    Too soon to tell
    (540 votes)
2504 votes total Vote Now

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