2015-16 Season Preview Extravaganza | The Celtics Need Someone To Step Up

Players Acquired: G Terry Rozier (draft), G R.J. Hunter (draft), F Jordan Mickey (draft), Jonas Jerebko (free agency), F Amir Johnson (free agency), F/C David Lee (trade)

Players Lost: F/C Brandon Bass (free agency), G/F Chris Babb (trade), F Gerald Wallace (trade), G Zoran Dragic (waived), G Phil Pressey (waived)

It looked like the Boston Celtics were destined for the lottery in 2014-15. They traded Jeff Green and disgruntled point guard Rajon Rondo. Through Jan. 25, the team was 15-27. Instead of looking at the playoff standings, Celtics fans were probably dreaming of lottery balls.

Not so fast.

The team traded for Isaiah Thomas via the Phoenix Suns on Feb. 19. Thomas wasn’t a fan of being one of 2,818 point guards on the Phoenix roster. With Thomas in the lineup, Boston went 15-7, including a five-game winning streak to end the season, helping clinch the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. The Celtics had a 40-42 record going into postseason play.

The Celtics were predictably swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the first round, but it looked like Danny Ainge’s squad was ahead of schedule, even it had no true star.

A few other positive notes from the 2014-15 season for the Celtics:

  • Avery Bradley took a mini step back, averaging 13.9 points (1.0 less than the 2013-14 season) while shooting 42.9 percent from the field (.09 percent less) and 35.2 percent from the 3-point line (4.5 percent less). He still remains one of the best perimeter defenders in the league.
  • No. 6 overall pick Marcus Smart only averaged 7.8 points per game, but the dude is a bulldog and such a competitor. He’s the kind of guy you want in your corner.
  • Thomas’s nickname is “Pizza Guy.” I would like to hear the story on this, please.

The Celtics go into the 2015-16 season with the playoffs on their minds, but aside from acquiring David Lee (who really didn’t play at all last season), they haven’t improved all that much. They are banking on some of the young players to progress in a hurry.

The Big Question

Can one of these first-round picks turn into a stud?

The nominees:

  • Kelly Olynyk – Solid player. Celtics hope he can turn into a stretch 4 at some point.
  •  Jared Sullinger – Probably not just given his trouble with weight throughout his career.
  • James Young – Maybe? We aren’t sure what we have here yet. Young played just 332 minutes last season.
  • Smart – If you were a gambling individual, Smart would be the smart (sorry…) bet. His intensity and competitiveness aims at improvement.
  • And then the new guys – R.J. Hunter and Terry Rozier. Rozier was a riser in the draft. Both guys have a tough task of simply breaking the rotation, but Celtics fans probably wouldn’t be too upset if they did (unless it’s by way of an injury).

So here we are. The Celtics made a smart move in cashing in on first-round picks from the Brooklyn Nets a few years back, but if it ends in mediocracy, will it justify trading a franchise player like Paul Pierce?

We’ll see.

How Can The Wolves Beat Them?

The Wolves were 1-1 against the Celtics last season. In Minnesota’s 110-98 win on Jan. 28, the Celtics didn’t have Thomas yet, so it’s tough to know exactly how that will translate.

Rookie Tyus Jones will likely have the task of guarding Thomas off the bench. Jones struggled with speedy guards during Summer League, so it will certainly be a test for the former Blue Devil.

Kevin Martin led Minnesota with 21 points off the bench while Zach LaVine put up 17 as a starter. A sign of things to come? If the Wolves get production like that from their two shooting guards, it’s tough to see them losing both game. A split should probably be the goal here for the Wolves.

The Wolves will play the Celtics in Boston on Dec. 21 and at the Target Center on Feb. 22. To find tickets, click here.

Ratke’s Prediction

If the Celtics do make the playoffs, I don’t see them cracking the top-7 again. I think they’ll fight the Orlando Magic for the eighth spot, and ultimately end back in the lottery, failing to make back-to-back playoff appearances.

Describe This Team In 15 Words Or Less

It’s a fun story, but the Celtics need a star if they want to contend.