Kyrie Irving, Jaylen Brown, Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford.
I was tempted to conclude the article right then and there, but I’m too full of words to stop yet. Just read through that lineup again and imagine it in your mind’s eye.
Offensively, that’s 5 guys that can stretch the floor, 2 are elite level shot creators, 2 are Swiss army knives, and 1 is a relentless bulldog with athleticism to spare. There’s a beautiful blend of buoyant youth, veteran savvy, and Gumby-like flexibility in that group. The passing and spacing could create ping-pong ball movement leading to wide open 3’s or dunks. At the same time, if you need a bucket, there are multiple options to call upon to make iso-magic happen. Then on defense, that’s a lot of long, laterally quick, intelligent thinkers between the ball and the hoop.
Individually the resumes pop off the page.
- Kyrie Irving: Top overall pick, Rookie of the Year, 5x All Star, NBA Champion (hit the game winner)
- Al Horford: 2x NCAA Champ, 5x All Star, 2018 2nd team All Defense
- Gordon Hayward: Inches away from being NCAA Champ, All Star, Max Contract
- Jaylen Brown: 3rd overall pick, 2nd team All Rookie, dramatic improvement in 2nd season
- Jayson Tatum: 3rd overall pick, 1st team All Rookie, youngest player to score 20+ pts. in 4 consecutive playoff games
That’s all just one lineup too. We haven’t even talked about Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Aron Baynes, Daniel Theis, Marcus Morris, Semi Ojeleye, or whomever Danny Ainge can replace or supplement them with.
This is why I keep coming back to one simple theme: Don’t overthink this.
Look, I get it. If the “greatest player of this generation” says he wants to have a meeting with the Celtics, you better believe that Danny Ainge is going to be willing to clear some space on his calendar. However, the logistics and narratives make it seem like a longshot. At the end of the day, it just doesn’t feel right. So personally I’m going to look at it as a compliment that LeBron James and Kevin Durant both considered joining the Boston Celtics. We’ve come a long way since the “free agents don’t consider Boston a destination” days.
Even beyond James, there are bi-monthly speculation cycles centered around the latest wander-prone superstar that the media is ready to displace (Kawhi Leonard, Anthony Davis, etc.). Because despite having a stacked roster, the Celtics also have a stack of draft assets they could package to beat most offers on the market.
Speaking of the draft, the rumors abound that the Celtics could move up in the draft, perhaps as high as the top 5. Who knows, maybe they can use Terry Rozier and a pick or two to get someone that... might be as good as Terry Rozier next year. Yes, I understand the concept of upside and value on rookie contracts and all that. It just seems silly to push this agenda when we’ve got plenty of time to wait and see how it all plays out. Especially when Rozier is an ideal backup point guard in the event that Kyrie Irving has another injury (not hard to imagine).
As for the other point guard (or rather, playmaking power guard) a decision on Marcus Smart does have to be made this summer. All it takes is for one team to fall in love with winning plays and make an offer the Celtics must refuse. Still, I always drift back to the assumption that the Celtics value him higher than other teams do. So one way or another, I imagine him back for another eventful year.
Likewise with Aron Baynes, whom I’ve really grown fond of. I feel like the team will figure out some way to keep All of Australia in Irish green.
Don’t worry, there’s always going to be plenty to plenty to talk about on CelticsBlog all offseason long. Rumors are already buzzing around, the draft is just around the corner, and free agency should be a barrel of laughs and memes.
It is an odd feeling to enter an offseason without dreaming of making a big splash trade or signing. All I want to do is put bubble wrap around this team and return them to the court fresh and injury-free in the Fall. I’ll save my daydreams for imagining endless variations of Hayward-Irving pick and rolls.