Grading The Celtics Offeason: How Did They Do?
The Celtics had an offseason which was productive as well as effective. While they didn’t land any marquee players like LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, or Chris Bosh, they were not expected to do so.
However, they could have made runs at picking up guys like Matt Barnes, Steve Blake, Mike Miller, Joe Johnson, or even Mario Chalmers.
I thought Joe Johnson could have been a huge pickup for Boston, but after signing a maximum contract with the Atlanta Hawks it was very clear that he was more interested in a big-contract and staying with his team than finding a place that had more talent or potential to win, which he could have done.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, the Lakers and Heat both have extremely talented rosters. Boston does have a lot of talent, but not the “sexy” talent like Miami or L.A. has with guys like Kobe Bryant, Wade, or James. Because of their current set of players, Miami and L.A. were able to pick up the second-third tier players like Blake and Miller, taking away players who could be pivotal on a Boston bench.
In grading an offseason, the fundamental question that needs to be asked is, did the team improve? Obviously the Cavaliers had a tough offseason…it would be very difficult to support and borderline unrealistic to say that the Cavaliers improved.
The Knicks, on the other hand, landed a very talented Amar’e Stoudemire who could bring some status to New York basketball.
Did Boston improve?
I would say yes, and although they could have done more, they certainly improved enough to keep themselves in contention for a title. Both Jermaine O’Neal and Shaquille O’Neal add depth where they clearly needed it last year, adding two very big bodies inside.
Depth might be an issue towards the end December right before Kendrick Perkins returns, as exhaustion and small injuries may start playing a factor in player performances. Further, without Rasheed Wallace (retiring), the Celtics will eagerly await Perk’s return.
Jermaine O’Neal is a strong offensive player and can get rebounds, something the Celtics sorely needed when Perkins was injured/catching a breather. Shaq is a guy who can clog up the middle of, well, anything, including a basketball court.
The two will create a platoon to allow Perkins and Garnett to rest. While obviously not as defensively minded as Kendrick and KG, they will be able to pull down rebounds and score. Throw Glen Davis into the mix, and, when healthy, the Celtics have a very unique and dangerous combination.
I think the Celtics could have used another scorer off the bench. Right now their major threat is Nate Robinson and a lot may ride on guys like Luke Harangody (impressive thus far), and the oft-injured Marquis Daniels.
The major blow Boston will have to deal with is the loss of Tony Allen. Those who did not watch Tony play throughout the season did not realize his vast improvement, both offensively and defensively. Offensively, he became a guy who could drop some points by slashing to the basket while playing lock down defense on anybody, from LeBron to Kobe.
However, the Celtics drafted Avery Bradley. Although very raw offensively, Bradley is supposedly an NBA-ready defensive player, who should be able to cover one, two, and the smaller-sized combo-guard.
Overall, the Celtics would certainly have benefited from holding onto Allen and/or adding another perimeter scoring threat. The team didn’t have the high-profile pickups like maybe the Heat or even Los Angeles, but they certainly made their team better.
The offseason is not over, and for the Celtics to jump into the A range they’ll need to sign a small forward or shooting guard who can score so that the backup role doesn’t fall completely in the hands of untested players.