Last season, the Boston Celtics were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Atlanta Hawks. It was the second straight first round exit for Boston; however, there’s growing optimism surrounding this franchise going into the upcoming season. This energy is fueled by the signing of Hawks center Al Horford; however, Horford’s presence alone doesn’t make the Boston Celtics Eastern Conference contenders.
The Celtics and all star center Al Horford agreed to a monster 4 year/ 113 million dollar deal. Horford was an all star in Atlanta the last two seasons, and has gained league recognition for his two way play. He can score in the paint, be a threat on the perimeter, and is an asset on the defensive end of the floor; however, despite his skill set, Horford doesn’t make Boston a title contender.
While Horford is a legitimate two way threat, he was an Atlanta prodigy. He fit in well with their system. With point guard Jeff Teague and forward Paul Millsap, (who are also all stars) on their roster, Horford was able to play a laid back style of play. He’s not a player who you can give the ball to in the post if you need a bucket. He’s a player who’s game revolves around his mid range jumper and perimeter ability. Horford was able to play this way in previous years with the Hawks because of Paul Millsap. Millsap is a gritty player on both ends of the floor; he dives after loose balls, and is one of the best defenders at his position. In addition to his gritty defensive play, Millsap is also a well rounded offensive player. He can play in the post, finish in the paint, and can hit shots from the perimeter when he has to. Millsap’s ability to balance the two skill sets is what sets him apart from Horford. Al Horford was the big fish for Boston this offseason, but they’re also excited to see what they have in rookie Jaylen Brown.
Thanks to the blockbuster deal with the Brooklyn Nets three years ago, the Celtics obtained the number three pick in this year’s draft. With that pick they selected California forward Jaylen Brown. Brown is a player who can put the ball in the cup, and plays solid defense, but he is very inconsistent from the outside. Brown shot under 30 percent from three last year, and also shot under 70 percent from the free throw line; however, something to consider is Brown’s potential role with this team. With small forward Jae Crowder heading into year two of a a five year deal, Brown will all, but likely be a reserve with this unit. A player like Brown coming off the bench is a huge asset for any team, but the Celtics had a player very reminiscent of Brown on their roster last year.
Last season, the Celtics had swingman Evan Turner at their disposal. Turner is one of the more under appreciated players in the NBA. He can guard positions one through four, is an aggressive offensive player, and he fills up the stat sheet. While he can score the ball and defend, Turner can also find his teammates, get rebounds, and force turnovers. He has averaged just over five rebounds, and just below four assists a game for his career. Turner bolted Boston for a hefty four year deal with the Portland Trail Blazers. Jaylen Brown, in a way, is a younger Evan Turner, but he has a lot of development to undergo to have the same impact as Turner.
Despite the additions of center Al Horford, and forward Jaylen Brown, to go along with star point guard Isaiah Thomas and company, the Celtics aren’t contenders. Horford and Brown provide versatility and intrigue, but they have noticeable flaws in their games. The Boston Celtics have improved their roster, but they haven’t improved it to the point where they are contenders.