WEEI.com predicts 2014-15 Boston Celtics season
|10.29.14 at 8:59 am ET|
The Boston Celtics season is upon us, and our WEEI.com round table of Ben Rohrbach, Mike Petraglia, Kevin O’Connor, Julian Edlow and Sam Packard weighs in on five questions facing the C’s this season.
1. What will be Rajon Rondo‘s fate this season?
@brohrbach: We’ve seen “National TV” Rondo, but we’ve never really witnessed “Contract Year” Rondo, and that could be an awful lot of fun. He’s almost two years removed from the ACL surgery, and the broken bone in his hand appears to be only a minor setback. I’m on board with Celtics president Danny Ainge’s assessment that his four-time All-Star point guard will enjoy a career statistical year as the most exciting player on a blah team. Even then, haters will find something to complain about.
As for whether he’ll be traded or not, the Celtics will sure as heck try, but the number of teams in need of a starting point guard, willing to meet Ainge’s asking price and lining up to pay Rondo max money isn’t a long list. It’s a coin flip, but I’m now leaning more toward no deal than deal.
@Trags: Traded by January.
@KevinOconnorNBA: For Rondo to be dealt by Boston, another team needs to get desperate close to the trade deadline. Looking around the NBA, I don’t see many teams willing to cough up what it’ll take, so for now I think he’ll remain with the Celtics all season.
@julianedlow: Rondo plays the year out in Boston. If he was ever going to be traded, it needed to happen by draft night. There are just no realistic packages out there that make sense for Ainge to deal Rondo. I won’t venture a guess as to what happens after this season, but I guarantee it won’t be boring.
2. Which newcomer will have the greatest impact?
@brohrbach: Evan Turner seems like the logical answer after his preseason, but with Rondo returning to run the offense, I’m going with dark horse candidate Tyler Zeller. The 7-footer had his ups and downs in eight exhibition games and still walked away with 36-minute averages of 15.1 points, 8.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 1.2 blocks to go along with a 17.1 player efficiency rating and 64.1 true shooting percentage. His ability to run the floor pairs well with Rondo.
@Trags: Turner by a smidge over Marcus Smart.
@julianedlow: Smart is going to have some terrible games shooting the ball, but his electrifying defense should be enough to keep him on the court on those nights. He has been underrated as a ball-handler and a floor general, but realizing what his true strengths are will define his season. Smart needs to stop relying so heavily on the 3-point shot and look to get into the paint where he will be far more effective this season (and has been in limited preseason numbers).
@SPackGuy: I want to say Marcus Thornton because he seems like a cool dude, but it’s pretty clearly going to be Smart.
3. Which returning player will make the biggest leap?
@brohrbach: It has to be Kelly Olynyk. While Jared Sullinger looks to be improved, he was nearly a double-double machine as an NBA sophomore last season. Would you be at all surprised to see Olynyk average an efficient 14-7-3 this season? That’s a 50 percent increase in production across the board.
@KevinOconnorNBA: Sullinger. The addition of the above-the-break 3-pointer will do wonders for his game, and his conditioning looked much improved during the preseason. Olynyk is right there with Sullinger, as both of them should make a big leap.
@julianedlow: Third-year bigs Anthony Davis and Andre Drummond are expected to have breakout seasons this year. Sullinger is capable of making the same type of jump as he begins his third NBA season. He had a very strong preseason, and looks to be showing the type of growth he was expected to make when he was considered a No. 1 overall pick during his freshman season at Ohio State. Sullinger could flirt with an All-Star appearance and the Most Improved Player award.
4. Who will be the biggest disappointment?
@brohrbach: It’s hard to be a disappointment when there are already low expectations, so I’m ruling out Gerald Wallace and Vitor Faverani here. Instead, I’ll go with Smart, just because the forecast has been so hot on the rookie. There’s no doubt he’s an NBA ready defender, but his propensity for turnovers and 3-pointers on the offensive end is a concern, at least this season.
@KevinOconnorNBA: Thornton, only because expectations are unreasonably high after the preseason. His scoring will win Boston some games, but it’ll lose them a lot of games too. He’s an on-off player that I really like, but if things go south for the team, his production could drop, much like Jordan Crawford’s did last year.
@julianedlow: Has the time passed where Green can still be the answer? Look, Green is a great guy, a unique talent, and an elite athlete that also comes with an amazing story. I want to like Jeff Green. But his inconsistencies will always hold him back from becoming the star many hoped he would. In a 17-day span last year, Green had three different games in which he scored 27 or more points. He followed each of those games by scoring in single digits in his next game. Enough said.
@SPackGuy: Sullinger, only because the hype is out of control. I have seen people picking him to be Most Improved Player, which is totally absurd.
5. What’s your prediction for the Celtics this season?
@brohrbach: 29-53. The evolution of Sullinger and Olynyk, return of Rondo and additions of Smart, Thornton, Turner and Zeller make this an improved roster, for sure, but with the possible exceptions of the Magic and Bucks the C’s are decidedly better than only the 76ers in the Eastern Conference. Even a four-game improvement is asking a lot from Brad Stevens.
@Trags: 36-46. Top-10 scoring team in the NBA. Lots of uptempo and fun to watch.
@KevinOconnorNBA: 30-52. This team is going to be a lot better than it was last season, especially on the defensive end of the floor. If you plugged this Celtics team into last year’s Eastern Conference, they’d probably win more than 35 games, but this year’s East is much improved. I’ll put them at 30 victories, but the record isn’t as important as the development of the young players and the system, which will be immense.
@julianedlow: 35-47. Much of the Celtics’ fate lies in what trades Ainge decides to pursue, but I have seen a lot of improvements since the summer and believe that it will reflect in Boston’s record. They finish with 35 wins — which would have missed the playoffs by three games in the East last season.
@SPackGuy: 30-52. Miss the playoffs and get an average lottery pick. REBUILDING CONTINUES!