|Rebuild Spotlight: What to expect from Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller||09.23.14 at 10:03 pm ET|
The Celtics are coming off of their worst season since 2006-07. Despite high expectations this offseason, the team is entering 2014-15 with a similar roster to last season, which comes with similar expectations. However, Brad Stevens will be in his second season as coach, Rajon Rondo will begin the season healthy and Danny Ainge has added some new, young talent. But it’s still clear that the Celtics are entering another rebuilding season, leaving us with some major questions. We’ll try to find some answers in this five-part series called Rebuild Spotlight.
In the minds of many, the Celtics were a relatively guard-heavy team last season. One of the main reasons Danny Ainge traded away the likes of Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford (aside from clearing cap space and adding assets) was simply to make room for Rajon Rondo when he returned.
This season, Boston will begin the year with not only a healthy Rondo, but the additions of guards Marcus Smart, James Young, Marcus Thornton and Evan Turner to the roster. To say the least, the backcourt will be a crowded one yet again.
Brad Stevens‘ frontcourt is a far different story.
Stevens is going to need to rely heavily on young bigs to produce — Jared Sullinger, Kelly Olynyk and newcomer Tyler Zeller to be specific. Sure, guys like Brandon Bass, Joel Anthony and Vitor Faverani are still around. But the former trio provides much more youth and potential, the direction in which the C’s seem to be trending.
Take a look at how they performed on the court last season:
Sullinger: 13.3 ppg (42.7 FG%, 26.9 3P%, 77.8 FT%), 8.1 rpg, 1.6 apg , 0.7 bpg, 27.6 minutes in 74 games
Olynyk: 8.7 ppg (46.6 FG%, 35.1 3P%, 81.1 FT%), 5.2 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.4 bpg, 20.0 minutes in 70 games
Zeller: 5.7 ppg (53.8 FG%, 71.9 FT% — attempted and missed one 3-pointer), 4.0 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.5 bpg, 15.0 minutes in 70 games
It’s worth noting that Zeller came off the bench much of last season. He posted averages of 7.9 points and 5.7 rebounds in 26.4 minutes during his rookie campaign in 2012-13.
Sullinger clearly has the most star potential of the group; it’s evident whether you are judging by the eye test or simply eyeing the numbers. Sully is locked in as the starting power forward in Boston. The question is: Can we expect to see growth from Sullinger for a second straight season? If he can find consistency, then the answer is yes.
Sullinger had 19 games in which he scored 19 or more points last season, highlighted by his 31-point, 16-rebound performance against the Kings and a 25-20 game vs. the 76ers. But Sully seemed to suffer from “Jeff Green syndrome” at times, finishing with 20 games when he was only able to score in single digits. But unlike Green, Sullinger’s inconsistencies hinged on … well, Stevens’ inconsistencies with distributing playing time.
|Asset Management: Kelly Olynyk’s Celtics future||09.16.14 at 4:51 pm ET|
I think we can all agree the Celtics won’t be raising banner 18 in the immediate future, and more likely than not the 2014-15 NBA season will result in another lottery pick come June, regardless of how ardently Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley & Co. argue the contrary. It’s been a year since Danny Ainge traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Nets, launching the process of stockpiling draft picks and cap-friendly contracts. Since the Celtics failed to cash in those commodities in exchange for fireworks this summer, this season’s preview will have a Wyc Grousbeck theme, focusing on the hodgepodge of C’s pieces in a series we’ll call Asset Management. Next up: Kelly Olynyk.
Olynyk’s run-in with a billboard has been the lasting image of his summer, a hilariously perfect reminder of all the long-haired 23-year-old 7-footer’s flaws — the sign accentuating his limitations both athletically and defensively.
In reality, the past year hasn’t changed opinions much on Olynyk. This is a guy Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge dubbed upon drafting “just a really good complementary player. He’s not a go-to guy, not a star player. He’s like a really good teammate type of player and complements other guys.”
I wasn’t sure how to feel about that then, and I’m not sure how to feel about it now. The Celtics traded up three spots to draft Olynyk, declared him “not a go-to guy, not a star player,” and then watched the Bucks take the most promising player in the draft two spots later. That’s a tough pill to swallow, but to the best of my knowledge Ainge doesn’t own a DeLorean, so we look to the future.
We learned a bit about the Canadian’s exchange rate when Minnesota turned its nose on a Celtics package of Olynyk, Jared Sullinger and multiple first-round picks for Kevin Love, which is to say his value elsewhere in the NBA isn’t what it’s perceived to be in Boston — despite those 36-minute averages of 15.6 points, 9.4 boards and 2.8 dimes.
|Kelly Olynyk’s wrist injury is far from ‘career-ending’||08.13.14 at 1:23 pm ET|
“It’ll be all right,” Olynyk told ESPN.com, admitting he fell awkwardly on the wrist while competing for Team Canada. “It’s not career-ending.” The wrist issue would have gone unnoticed were it not for a fan’s tweet to CelticsBlog.
The 23-year-old made a scheduled visit to Canobie Lake Park on Tuesday, missing Canada’s final game in Europe, and he did not alert the Celtics to any serious injury. Photos from the event show Olynyk wore no brace and had kids from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children tugging on him all afternoon.
|Celtics: Kelly Olynyk ‘mentioned nothing about any injuries’||08.12.14 at 9:50 am ET|
Olynyk did return to Boston and will not play in the final game of Canada’s European tour on Tuesday.
However, the Celtics media relations staff connected with Olynyk on Monday night regarding his scheduled visit to Canobie Lake Park with 30 kids from the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, and “he mentioned nothing about any injuries he may have.” He will attend the event as planned.
‘ MSPCC (@mspccboston) August 12, 2014
If Olynyk indeed suffered a wrist injury, it doesn’t appear serious enough to prevent “a day of rides and fun.”
|Courtside billboard gets the best of Kelly Olynyk||08.05.14 at 4:12 pm ET|
By most accounts, especially this one, Kelly Olynyk‘s footwork still needs improvement.
While Olynyk thankfully avoided the same fate Paul George suffered in a Team USA scrimmage last week, the Celtics big man found his foot in a bit of trouble a couple days later during Canada’s friendly against Serbia in Italy.
After getting his right foot stuck in a courtside billboard, Olynyk’s only injury was a bruised ego. He finished with 11 points (5-11 FG), nine rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes of a 78-73 loss. The Serbians will be among the 24 teams competing when the FIBA Basketball World Cup begins later this month. Canada did not qualify.
|Celtics drop Orlando Summer League finale to Pacers||07.11.14 at 12:14 pm ET|
Despite the efforts of Celtics summer league standouts Kelly Olynyk and Marcus Smart, the Pacers rode an 11-0 run down the stretch to capture the fourth-place game in Orlando, 95-86.
Olynyk and Smart led the C’s scoring effort with 20 and 19 points, respectively, despite shooting a combined 13-of-37 from the field. Entering the game making just 28.0 percent of his field goal attempts (19.2 3P%), Smart finished 6-of-18 in the loss, but converted 4-of-9 3-pointers in an encouraging effort.
Phil Pressey (12 points, 13 assists), Mike Moser (16 points, 10 rebounds) and O.D. Anosike (13 points, 10 rebounds) added double-doubles in defeat. Chris Johnson and Chris Babb finished a combined 1-for-11.
Donald Sloan led Indiana with 20 points and 10 assists, helping the Pacers transform an 82-81 edge into a commanding 93-81 lead.
The Celtics finished 3-2 in the Orlando Summer League.
|Celtics G Dairis Bertans expected to be OK after hitting head in summer league game||07.10.14 at 11:01 am ET|
Celtics guard Dairis Bertans was expected to be OK after having a CT scan following a head-on collision with the stanchion under the basket during Wednesday’s summer league game in Orlando.
Bertans was on a fast break late in the third quarter of the Celtics‘ 92-90 win over the Pistons when he was fouled by one player, hit on the back of the head by another, and knocked into the padded basket support. He gave a thumbs-up after being strapped to a stretcher and taken to the hospital for tests.
“It looked bad. Especially from my angle I knew it was bad,” teammate Marcus Smart said. “He tried to catch himself but it was a little too late for him. They said he’s going to be all right, though. He had a little neck pain, we just didn’t want to take a risk with those. He’s going to be all right, and we’re just going to pray for him.”
The 24-year-old Latvian shooting guard was having a good game, hitting 3-of-5 shots, including a 3-pointer.
“It was sad to see him get hurt because he was playing so well,” teammate Phil Pressey said. “He’s been playing so well this whole summer league. Prayers to him.”
As for the game, the Cetlics closed out the third quarter on a 20-7 run and then held off the Pistons, who closed the game on an 11-3 run over the final two minutes. Pistons guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who scored a game-high 26 points, missed a desperation 3-pointer at the buzzer.
Kelly Olynyk led a balanced Boston attack with 16 points and nine rebounds. Smart had 14 points (albeit on 4-of-13 shooting, including 2-of-7 from behind the arc), six assists, five rebounds and two steals. Backcourt mate Phil Pressey also scored 14 points, on 6-of-10 shooting.
The Celtics play the Magic on Thursday at 5 p.m.