Tonight marks the start of the Boston Celtics 2015-2016 NBA season. They wear their classic white jerseys at home against the Philadelphia 76ers. The TD Garden is going to shake, and the Celtics are ready to play games that actually count. As the 7:30 tip-off slowly creeps closer, lets talk about some reasonable expectations for the upcoming season.
1.) Jared Sullinger and James Young will be traded
Jared Sullinger and James Young are two of many young assets on the Celtics roster. Both have potential, especially Young, but are in terrible spots on the teams depth chart. Young is the third shooting guard, and Sullinger is the backup power forward. Their playing time this season will be limited. Brad Stevens proved this preseason he wants to play all four of his big men, and that only hurts Sullinger. Danny Ainge will extend Sullinger or Zeller this offseason, and it looks like Zeller is in line for the extension. On the other hand, Young is stuck behind a plethora of guards, and his trade value will never be higher. If Ainge wants to make a power move at the deadline, Sullinger and Young are gone.
2.) RJ Hunter will be the teams best rookie
The Celtics entered the offseason looking for three-point shooting. With the 28th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, the Celtics drafted the drafts best three-point shooting prospect in RJ Hunter. He will get playing time because he can snipe from anywhere on the three-point line. Of the three rookies on the roster, Hunter is the only backup. The Celtics are weak at shooting guard, but loaded at point guard and power forward. That puts rookies Terry Rozier and Jordan Mickey on the third unit, and may not play every game. Hunter will play every game. Brad Stevens knows who to look for when he needs a three-point shot.
3.) 6 seed
The Boston Celtics shocked the world last season by making the NBA playoffs. Playoffs, to Brad Stevens, is now an expectation. This young Celtics team is ready for the pressure. Brad Stevens is all about effort and improvement, and the additions of David Lee and Amir Johnson bring that effort and willingness to improve. The Celtics are improving, but still not the best. The Eastern Conference holds the Cleveland Cavaliers, Chicago Bulls, Atlanta Hawks, Toronto Raptors, Washington Wizards, Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, and Milwaukee Bucks who could all make the playoffs. Brad Stevens will out coach most of the bottom seeds in the East. Boston will improve from 7 to 6 in 2016. They are lucky to be a part of the worst division in the Eastern Conference.
4.) Isaiah Thomas will make the All-Star team, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart will get votes
If the Celtics want success this season, Isaiah Thomas needs to go off. He is going to get a majority of the Celtics shots and minutes, especially in the fourth quarter. He has faith from everyone in the organization from Danny Ainge to the TD Garden janitors, and he will thrive off that confidence. Even as a bench player, Thomas will make the biggest impact on the Celtics. That will be recognized by All-Star voters. Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart complete the three-headed monster at guard. Bradley’s versatility and Smart’s defense will improve enough to get All-Star votes, but the East is talented enough to find players better than Bradley and Smart. Votes is a step in the right direction.
5.) The Celtics will have a top-5 pick
Thank you Mikhail Prokhorov. When the Celtics traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics received bad contracts and future assets. Those future assets were three unprotected first round picks, including one in the 2016 NBA Draft. Now that it is the 2015-2016 NBA season, Pierce and Garnett are gone, and the Nets look terrible. History tells me there is a good chance Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez are going to get injured, and Joe Johnson’s numbers have been on the decline since 2012. The Nets could have the worst team in the NBA. Thank God their pick goes to the Celtics.
All the Celtics need to worry about is working hard. They have a coach that will put his players in the best situation possible, and a roster that has the depth to create matchup problems. 82 games in 5 months is a lot. 76ers is a nice start to the season. Let the games begin.