Buying or Selling? Celtics Big Picture Predictions

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Updated: September 7, 2021
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The Boston Celtics’ offseason can be chopped into two parts. The Dennis Schröder signing can be set as the line of demarcation between what looked like a catastrophic first couple months for new President of Operations Brad Stevens until they came away with arguably the steal of the offseason. Considering they have perpetually underachieved ever since Tatum’s sophomore year which circled around the drama of Kyrie Irving and the constant injuries of max forward Gordan Hayward, a change at the head of the snake in the coaching department and front office should prove to be a beneficial decision by ownership.

Now the question of buying stock in the Celtics or any of its stars is heavily dependent on the fact that the expectations on this franchise are at an all-time low. The consensus seems to be that they’ll be “good, not great,” and are expected to be taken down in the 2nd round by one of the true contenders of the East. It is due to these low expectations, that buying stock in Boston is an ideal bet going into the 2021-22 season. Their regular-season numbers are impossible to gauge as it is for most teams. They have a new head coach, a completely new backcourt, and question marks of how their vet/young centers will be utilized. But this will be the first year that Tatum and Brown can simply be penciled as their 1A & 1B tandem, without having to accommodate a maxed-out injury-prone point guard as they have had to do with Irving and then undersized defense liability Kemba Walker.

Banking on the Backcourt

The Dennis Schröder/Josh Richardson backcourt is possibly one the best bets on buying stock in across the league with them both coming off disappointing seasons. However, the fit for both of these guards is far more ideal than their previous situations. Richardson was considered a plus defender, however, not a tier 1 all-defense type of guard. Much of what he had to offer on this side of the floor was situational and amplified by the team concept created in Miami. In Dallas, their two max players looked allergic to effort on the defensive end and in turn, negated much of the potential impact that Richardson could provide.

Dennis Schröder was possibly in the worst situation of any guard trying to get paid. He was asked to be one thing in the regular season and the exact opposite in the playoffs. He is a perfect fit next to Tatum & Brown, who, although ultra-talented, lack 4th quarter killer mentality. Schröder should prove to be a substantial contributor down the stretch of tight games since instead of being the clear 3rd option of the title-bound Lakers squad, he will be green-lighted to score at will in the moments when it matters.

Many would prefer that this being starting backcourt for the Celtics and put Marcus Smart back as the 6th man off the bench, but the rotation of new head coach Ime Udoka is still unknown. However, the extension given to Marcus Smart likely was to solidify the contract as he has been openly on the trade block for some time now. It would not be surprising to anyone around the league if a Smart + picks package was shipped out at the deadline for a win-now piece. The main reason for this being is his Russel Westbrook-like mentality in 4th quarters and his happy trigger finger from distance. Although a significantly better shooter than Westbrook has ever been, arguably the lack of development of clutch scoring from Brown and Tatum is a result of Marcus Smart’s presence. With the additions of these guards along with the rookie contracts of Romeo Langford, Nesmith, and Grant Williams, players they have proven to have stock in the long term, if the opportunity presents itself, Smart and picks will be moved for an upgrade.

The Jason Tatum Transition

The pics above of the physical growth and added muscle to the near-7-foot wing are extremely promising for what it should mean for his role moving forward. Because of his tremendous skill set and potential as a top-tier scorer, the Celtics have slotted him in as a small forward and the future Paul Pierce of this generation. But unlike Pierce, the defensive potential for Tatum is in a completely different league, and even offensively, though they share characteristics of their bag, with this new Antetokounmpo size, at a pure 7-foot power forward, he has just become one of the worst mismatches in basketball. If he can truly utilize this size in combination with his skill set, who exactly is supposed to cover this man? The NBA world had all bought into the bandwagon of the Boston franchise as the young roster of the future and now the vast majority have left the wagon without wheels or even a mule to pull it. However, where the stock currently sits, not only for this year but the upcoming years, simply from internal development, Boston’s future is promising. The problem is they simply got too good too fast, and if they would’ve popped on a regular time frame, they would be all the hype.

Conclusion

Now, for this year are they the favorites? Considering Brooklyn looks like if healthy could sweep the current defending champions, absolutely not. However, relative to current perception, if the Celtics just took the Bucks, Nets, or 76ers 6 games in the 2nd round it would probably be seen as a mild success. If they got to the conference finals (again), it would be unanimously seen as a success unless the series was a blowout. And with how uncertain the Nets have been, the Sixers’ Simmons situation, and question marks of how good the defending champions really are, black horse stock in Boston has to be considered. The fact that many readers are shaking their heads at the last sentence, is exactly why it’s a strong bet to take considering the dividends it may produce.

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