Happy Thanksgiving to all of you from CelticsBlog!
Seems like a good chance for us to step back and be thankful for the many blessings we are enjoying as fans of the Boston Celtics. Here are a few of mine. Feel free to add any that I’ve forgotten or share your own in the comments below.
Losing in the Finals
I know this seems like an odd one to start with, but hear me out. While I would always prefer winning a championship because that banner hangs forever, there’s a silver lining to coming up short as well. Call it “growth mentality” or Kaizen or just old school learning through pain. Getting all the way to The Finals and coming up short has clearly fueled and focused this team. They have the confidence that they have the talent to win it all and they have the drive to do what it takes to get back there. Those are lessons that should stick with this core group for years to come.
Brad Stevens buying the groceries
What more can you say about the job Stevens has done as President of Basketball Operations? I go back to that old Bill Parcells quote about having to cook but not getting to buy the groceries. Well, history suggests that doing both jobs at the same time is too much for most people to handle. But there’s something to be said for a guy that cooked with this core group moving into a position where he’s buying the groceries to round out the menu. (Who’s hungry for turkey?)
Brad has shown that he’s decisive, unsentimental (in a good way), and willing to move on from mistakes. Sure, he’s traded away draft picks in the last 3 years, but nobody is missing those picks as they watch Al Horford, Derrick White, and Malcolm Brogdon providing the perfect complimentary skills around our stars.
He’s even unearthed some true gems. While cycling through several 2nd and 3rd chance players (Jabari Parker, Nik Stauskas, etc), he’s hit on the undrafted Sam Hauser and the cast-off Luke Kornet. On a roster with several max or near-max contracts, it is critical to round out the rotation with low priced contributors.
Joe Mazzulla’s unflappable confidence
Nothing good came out of the Udoka situation. Period, end of story.
However, given how things played out, I’m thankful for Joe Mazzulla stepping up and being such a steadying force in the locker room. His unflappable confidence is infectious and the team has picked up on it.
While he’s still learning the job on the fly, it seems pretty clear that he’s got the chops for this job and will continue to learn and grow into an even better head coach over time.
Jayson Tatum’s maturity
For all the jokes about Tatum being “only 19” it has been a lot of fun seeing him mature into his prime. His game has evolved and grown. His focus has developed. The game has slowed down for him and he’s seeing things 2 steps ahead. He’s making his teammates better and picking his spots. He’s a legit MVP candidate and having a special season so far.
“Growth is not linear”
Jayson isn’t the only one who’s game has grown. Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart continue to tweak and refine their games. Grant Williams has taken a leap that is going to pay off well in the offseason. Derrick White’s jumpshot is vastly improved and he seems to feel more comfortable in the offense. Sometimes we get stuck thinking of a player as finished products, but there’s always room for growth and sometimes that growth is a pleasant surprise.
Al Horford holding back Father Time
Speaking of pleasant surprises, I’m continually amazed by Al Horford. LeBron has those commercials with “Father Time” but it seems like Horford could make a cameo or two in them as well. He’s just a steady rock of competence and having one of his best shooting seasons.
The eventual return of Robert Williams III
Cue the infomercial voice: “But wait, there’s more!” The Celtics starting off the season as well as they have is a blessing in itself. But having the opportunity to add Rob Williams to that mix is ridiculous. The team will, of course, remain cautious and ease him back into the rotation only after taking every precaution. But adding his verticality and rim running to this offense is going to be special. Not to mention his rim protecting, shot obliterating presence on defense. I miss watching Williams play and I can’t wait to see him on the court again.
What did I miss? What else do you have to add? Let us know in the comments below.
And to you and yours, have a very Happy Thanksgiving!!!