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Will the Boston Celtics be able to emerge from a chaotic offseason and repeat their run to the NBA Finals?
The Boston Celtics’ season outlook has changed significantly in the last week, with the announcement that second-year head coach Ime Udoka had been suspended for the entire season for violations of team policies, which included an affair with a team staff member.
The way the story unfolded anything but clean with numerous female staffers being dragged into the mud by Twitter detectives and plenty of questions about how the Celtics handled the situation. Even if the team can put all that chaos aside and focus on their play on the court, they’ll be doing so with an interim head coach, Joe Mazzulla, who has just three seasons of NBA coaching experience as a Celtics assistant.
The Celtics have a big challenge in front of them but they can also rely on one of the most talented rosters in the Eastern Conference.
Boston Celtics offseason overview
- Malcolm Brogdon
- Danilo Gallinari (out for the season)
- Denzel Valentine
- Jake Layman
- Daniel Theis
- Aaron Nesmith
The Celtics made a fantastic move, adding Malcolm Brogdon who could be a Sixth Man of the Year candidate in the backcourt. His defense and offensive versatility are a perfect fit. Danilo Gallinari looked like another absolute offseason steal but he tore his ACL in international play this summer and is now likely to miss the entire season.
Boston Celtics projected rotation
The injury to Robert Williams III throws a monkey wrench in the Celtics’ rotation to start the year, likely moving Al Horford to center and bringing Grant Williams into the starting lineup. But when the big man is back, they should feature a deep, versatile rotation with plenty of small ball options.
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Grant Williams
C: Al Horford
- Malcolm Brogdon
- Derrick White
- Robert Williams (out 8-12 weeks)
- Payton Pritchard
- Luke Kornet
- Jake Layman
- Sam Hauser
- Noah Vonleh
Best case and worst case scenario for the Boston Celtics
The best-case scenario for the Celtics is clearly a title. Robert Williams gets healthy in a hurry, Brogdon clicks, the Ime Udoka story quietly fades out, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum take another leap and the depth and versatility at both ends of the floor make Boston a juggernaut.
The worst-case scenario is the Udoka mess looming all season long. A rough start to the season, with Mazzulla unable to rally the locker room the same way Udoka did last season after some early season frustration between Marcus Smart, Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Injuries keep the level of difficulty high and cracks begin to show in the Celtics’ united front. Boston is probably too talented to miss the playoffs but an early exit could inspire a bigger shakeup next year.
Award Watch: Can Jayson Tatum crash the MVP party?
One thing that would make things much easier for the Celtics this season is another step forward by Jayson Tatum. He’s already a strong pull-up shooter and defender and really improved as a passer last season. There is still a gap between him and some of the league’s best individual creators but he has room to grow there. If he were to increase his efficiency slightly, continue making players for others and maybe do a bit more scoring damage around the basket or at the free throw line — all while helping the Celtics stay near the top of the East — he could find himself in the MVP conversation. That caliber of season would help Boston in the standings but also give the team something to rally around, which seems like it could be just as crucial right now.
Boston Celtics predicted record and finish
This is an admittedly pessimistic prediction for the Celtics, finishing three wins worse than last year and dropping into the bottom half of the conference. But even with a rockier regular season, the Celtics have the talent to make a deep playoff run. — 48-34, Fifth in the Eastern Conference.
One reason the Boston Celtics are worth watching this season
If you like flexible, versatile basketball the Celtics are as good as any team in the league. We could see plenty of minutes this season with Horford-Tatum-Brown-Brogdon-Smart together, five flexibile, switchy defenders who can all shoot and make plays with the ball in their hands. Boston is incredible malleable and their games are going to be wealth of mismatches and structural chess matches as they look to take advantage of their depth and versatility.