Excitement is Growing for Next C's Season

BOSTON – It’s time to get excited, Celtics fans. Players will begin trickling into the practice facility over the next few weeks and training camp is right around the corner.

We all know that this training camp is going to be different than those in the past, but that gives us even more anticipation for next season. We’re moving into a new era, and we’re going to do so with a young and talented crop of faces.

If that doesn’t get your juices flowing, hopefully these facts will. Here are a handful of reasons to get excited for the upcoming season of Celtics basketball.

Rondo’s Coming Back

Rajon Rondo takes a layup against the Chicago Bulls

Rajon Rondo will return to the lineup this season after playing only 38 games in 2012-13.
Jared Wickerham/NBAE/Getty Images

We don’t know when Rajon Rondo will be back on the floor, but we know he’ll be there at some point. That fact alone is a reason to be excited. After all, when Rondo went down with a torn ACL last season, the C’s essentially went down with him.

Luckily for Boston, Rondo’s ACL has since been repaired and he’s on his way back. The Celtics will instantly be a better team once Rondo is back in the lineup.

Rondo, a four-time All-Star, has proven throughout his career to be one of the best – if not the best – passers in the league. He is a masterful setup man and has led the NBA in assists per game in each of the past two seasons. He’s a guy who makes his teammates better, and that’s exactly what the C’s need with their youthful roster. It will be quite a show once we see him run alongside his athletic teammates in the upcoming season.

Green Let Loose

Jeff Green had been in Paul Pierce’s shadow since he arrived in Boston a couple of years ago. Although Green served as a fill-in starter, the starting small forward spot was Pierce’s.

Now that Pierce has moved on to Brooklyn, Green can finally be unleashed as a full-time starter next season. That’s a scary proposition for opponents considering the promise Green showed in 2013.

Green’s began to emerge in February of last season and his numbers continued to grow throughout the remainder of the season. He joined the starting lineup for 17 games and excelled in that role. As a starter, he averaged 20.1 PPG while hitting 52.3 percent of his shots and 51.9 percent of his 3-pointers. Green then averaged a team-high 20.3 PPG during the postseason.

That playoff performance gave everyone watching an indication that Green is here to stay as a 20-point scorer. The Celtics will allow him to be exactly that as they let him loose as their starting small forward.

Sullinger is Healthy

Jared Sullinger showed great promise last season before going down with a season-ending back injury in January. Sullinger averaged 6.0 PPG and 5.9 RPG in 45 contests, including five starts. He also ranked 22nd in the league in rebounding percentage among players who participated in at least 40 games.

Process those numbers, and then realize that he did all of that with a bum back. His back issues were resolved with a procedure in February and he’s expected to be healthy come training camp.

Sullinger brings some important skills to the table. He’s a great rebounder, he puts the ball through the basket at a high percentage and he has an incredible basketball IQ. He calls himself a “glue guy,” and every team needs one of those. There is no doubt that the Celtics will be better off with him healthy and back in the lineup in 2013-14.

No More Rebounding Issues

We haven’t played any games yet, but it’s a near guarantee that the Celtics’ ballyhooed rebounding issues are all but gone. The team that ranked 29th or 30th in team rebounding in each of the past four seasons should see a significant boost in this category next season.

The reasons for this expected jump are plentiful. We’ve already covered the fact that Sullinger, a great rebounder, will be back in the lineup, but there are other additions as well.

Boston acquired Kris Humphries from the Nets back in July. Humphries has proven to be one of the best rebounders in the league. He has ranked in the top 18 of the entire league in rebound percentage in each of the past four seasons (minimum 40 games played). In other words, when he is put alongside Sullinger, the Celtics will have two of the better rebounders in the entire league.

The C’s also have several other players who are above-average rebounders for their position. Rondo averaged 5.6 boards a game from the point guard slot last season, and Gerald Wallace has averaged 6.2 RPG during his 12-year career as a small forward. If guys like Brandon Bass, Kelly Olynyk, Fab Melo and Vitor Faverani hold their own as well, this team will be very strong in the rebounding department.

Fresh Faces

It’s tough to see legends walk out the door, but it’s time to embrace the fresh faces that have arrived in Boston this summer. Through free agency, draft picks and trades, the C’s have acquired eight new players and a new head coach this offseason. Here is the list:

Head Coach Brad Stevens Keith Bogans (trade) MarShon Brooks (trade) Faverani (free agent) Humphries (trade) Colton Iverson (draft) Olynyk (draft) Wallace (trade)

Youth, athleticism, energy, and excitement. That’s what this group brings to the table. There is plenty of intrigue to see how all of these players perform in increased roles.

The man who will decide those roles is the 36-year-old Stevens. His hiring by the Celtics was a shocker to the basketball world, but nearly every basketball mine out there has supported the move. Everyone believes he is the perfect fit to lead this youthful and talented group. He’s excited to lead this group of players, and we should all be excited to watch them grow together.