We’re finishing up the NBA All Star break, the NBA trade deadline is behind us, and we have about a quarter of the season left to finish out. Seems like as good of a time as any to revisit my preseason SWAGs.
Let’s just say that I wouldn’t place any bets based off of my predictions, but I think in a few cases I got the spirit of the thing correct.
Jayson Tatum - top-3 MVP candidate
Here’s the thing with Jayson Tatum. I fully believe that he has improved this season. Not only is he a scoring savant, but he’s increased his drives to the basket, become a much better playmaker, and ramped up his defense.
However, I could never have imagined a multiverse situation where Tatum would be shooting 32.9% from three for the year. That’s just random and weird and I don’t know what to make of it. He’s a career 38% (including this season) and has multiple seasons over 40%.
Let’s just put this prediction aside for a while and see what happens next season. If he’s still doing all the good things discussed above and shooting at a better clip and the team is winning more consistently (which would seem to follow that level of play) then you might start hearing his name come up in the MVP discussion. Just not this year.
Aaron Nesmith will be a starter before December
Wrong! Boy did I miss this one. The thinking was that Udoka would need more shooting and the kid had the reputation of a shooter and started to make strides in the rotation at the end of the prior year.
Turns out that Tatum wasn’t the only shooter that mysteriously forgot how to shoot well. Nesmith is stuck in the low 20’s (currently 23.6%) from long range and he’s only averaging 10 minutes per game. Here is where you get the chicken-or-egg debates. Is he not playing because he can’t shoot (and doesn’t bring enough other things to the table to justify playing)? Or is he not shooting well because he isn’t playing and can’t develop a consistent rhythm? The answer is probably a little bit of both and a reminder that the NBA is hard.
The good news is that Nesmith survived the trade deadline and there are opportunities to play given the mix of players left on the team after Brad Stevens almost literally emptied the bench. The bad news is that Udoka’s short rotation is going to be very unforgiving.
In the long term there’s still plenty of time for Aaron to figure things out in a Celtics uniform. A strong end to the season would be a good start. But I don’t see him starting a meaningful game this season (unless something terrible has happened).
Brad Stevens will make another trade before Christmas
Wrong again, he didn’t trade anyone between October and Christmas.
However, less than a month later he traded Juancho Hernangomez (remember him?) in a salary dump in exchange for the injured Bol Bol and PJ Dozier, who were subsequently moved at the trade deadline.
So once again, my prediction didn’t turn out exactly as I imagined, but I wasn’t wrong that Brad Stevens would be a busy man in the transaction game.
One can only imagine what is in store for us in the offseason.
Ime Udoka will challenge every player to an arm wrestling match, ...and win every time
The gist of this less-serious SWAG was the narrative that Udoka was going to hold players accountable.
Early on it looked like the team was falling into the same old habits. Giving up leads, defaulting to iso-heavy offense, and not giving enough effort on defense (oh, and complaining to officials too).
Lately, however, the team has embraced their defensive identity, started sharing and moving the ball more frequently, and generally following Udoka’s guidance.
All along the players have voiced support for Ime and seem invested in making his tenure in Boston work. The recent results are an encouraging sign that things seem to be trending in the right direction for this team and Udoka has played his part in that.
Al Horford and Dennis Schröder will inspire a buddy cop movie on Netflix
Early in the preseason it seemed like this pair had real chemistry. Unfortunately things didn’t quite click with Dennis. He was miscast in Boston and effectively exacerbated the team’s bad habits.
I still think that in an ideal situation Schröder could come off the bench and provide a team with some instant offense by attacking the basket in the half court set. However, he was thrust into the starting lineup due to injuries and COVID protocols and he just didn’t move the ball well enough for this team to operate at peak efficiency.
Al Horford has been a much better fit, in particular on the defensive end. The one big issue has been his outside shooting. A common theme here.
So I guess the only film this could be compared to is The Breakup. But I wish Dennis nothing but the best in his NBA future. Maybe someday he can secure that elusive bag he missed out on in L.A.
That’s it for now. Stay tuned as I make bad predictions about the NBA playoffs, the offseason, and just about anything else surrounding the Celtics. Because I’m not going to let a poor SWAG record dissuade me from making more SWAGs. Much like “Who’s Line Is It Anyway?” the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.