Boston Celtics All-Decade Team

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The Boston Celtics had an absolute rollercoaster of a decade in the 2010s. It started with a trip to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years and ended with an extremely disappointing finish in the 2019 Playoffs. In-between, the Celtics made the Eastern Conference Finals three separate times with two entirely different rosters, but ultimately fell short of clinching the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

The decade began in the midst of a potential dynasty that didn’t play out the way it could have. Injuries plagued the aging team, but they stayed resilient until it was obvious that the league around them was shifting. The slate had to be cleaned, and the entire roster was re-shuffled in an unprecedented shift toward acquiring expiring contracts and assets. Boston endured a period of darkness with hope there would be light at the end of the tunnel. Now, 10 years later, that light is as bright as ever as the Celtics inch closer to glory with every passing day.

Boston Celtics All-Decade Team for the 2010s

Starters

Guard: Rajon Rondo

This debate has made its way across the interwebs in recent days, and it’s time to end it. Rajon Rondo is the best Celtics point guard since 2000, and there isn’t even an argument against him. However, this story doesn’t take into account his resume prior to the 2010 season. Still, the one-point-short-of-a-triple-double king easily earned a starting spot for the All-Decade Team. Though the end of his tenure didn’t end the way many had hoped, Rondo was one of the top point guards in the NBA during his prime.

He was a key contributor for the 2010 Eastern Conference Champions and did all he could to take down the villainous Miami Heat in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals, including his 44-point, 10-assist performance in an overtime loss in Game 2 that would have changed the whole series. Also, he was absolutely fouled by Dwyane Wade and it wasn’t called. Eight years later, I am still very salty.

Guard: Isaiah Thomas

One of the most passionate and electrifying players of a generation, Isaiah Thomas played with more heart than anyone on the floor. His contributions brought the Celtics back from one of the lowest periods in franchise history back to the brink of the NBA Finals.

Thomas made a run toward the MVP award during the 2017 season, reaching near-superstar status in the process. His big-game performances were plentiful, even under unimaginable circumstances. Just days after losing his sister to a car wreck, he scored 53 points to lift the Celtics to an overtime playoff win over the Washington Wizards — on her birthday, of all days.

Thomas will forever be remembered as a Boston legend, even if his career ultimately did not pan out the way it could have. The legend of “The Tooth” will live on in the TD Garden for generations.

Forward: Paul Pierce

“The Truth” is one of the greatest Celtics of all-time. In 2008, Paul Pierce helped bring a championship to Boston for the first time since 1986. That doesn’t matter for the 2010s, but it does matter in context. In 2010, he led an injury-riddled Celtics team back to the NBA Finals, only to be bested by Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games in a grudge match for the Lakers after the Celtics beat them in the 2008 Finals.

Pierce was a resilient star who saw his career rejuvenated once a solid roster was built around him. He then maximized the team’s potential throughout the “Big Three” era and beyond, totaling two trips to the Finals and a third Eastern Conference Finals bid where he fell short to the LeBron James-led Miami Heat in seven games in 2012.

His jersey will hang in the rafters for eternity, and for good reason.

Forward: Kevin Garnett

“Anything is possible,” Kevin Garnett screamed at the conclusion of the 2008 NBA Finals. The saying became a moniker for his team throughout the rest of his tenure in Boston.

Garnett played an absolutely vital role for the Celtics in the relative twilight of his career. He was a dominant force to be reckoned with on both ends of the floor while also dishing up some of the best trash-talk of all-time along the way. Though his career with the Celtics didn’t end on a high note, his contributions to the Celtics in the 2010s alone could have earned him a spot in the rafters, even without the 2008 title. Luckily for Celtics fans, Garnett will always be remembered as a champion.

Center: Al Horford

It is a bit alarming that so far on this list, the Celtics have had a bad breakup with every starter on their All-Decade team, and Al Horford is no exception. He is in a way, though. He is the only one (so far) to leave on his own terms to join a hated rival.

While he was in Boston, though, Horford was a life-saver for the Celtics. His veteran leadership and reliability lifted the Celtics higher than was previously thought possible with the roster around him. He was an integral part of two Eastern Conference Finals runs while serving as the perfect big man in Brad Stevens’ small-ball system. He may be long gone now, but his time in Boston will forever be remembered fondly by those who got to see his magic every night.

Bench:

To form a true All-Decade team for the Boston Celtics, the traditional positions have to be bent to an extent. There were several solid forwards and centers — from Kendrick Perkins and Jeff Green to Jae Crowder and Marcus Morris — but in conjunction with Brad Stevens’ positionless, wing-heavy style, the All-Decade bench won’t follow a one-through-five structure.

Sixth Man: Marcus Smart

In a way, Marcus Smart represented the Celtics better throughout the entire decade than any other player. He was drafted during the dark ages, after the days of the “Big Three”. He was the first puzzle piece and the only lasting remnant of those transition years. And now, he is the true leader of the Boston Celtics, even if it doesn’t show up on the scorecard.

Smart is the definition of a hustle player, and any team in the league would benefit by having him. He will always be a fan favorite, and for good reason.

Offensive Cornerstone: Jayson Tatum

If this list included the 2019-20 season, Jayson Tatum would potentially be a starter. However, it only accounts for his first two seasons which, though solid, pale in comparison to the performances of his predecessors. Tatum is blooming into a superstar before our very eyes, and will absolutely headline the 2020s All-Decade Team as he continues his ascension into basketball legend.

Shooter: Ray Allen

It’s time to forgive Ray Allen, seriously. Sure, he was the original snake years before Kevin Durant would one-up him, but the circumstances were very different. Allen had been on the trading block prior to his departure and felt disrespected. So he left town for the rival Heat and perhaps saved LeBron James’ legacy with the greatest shot in NBA history. Now, that’s what he’ll forever be known for. Good for him, honestly.

But before that, he was an absolute sniper for the Celtics. Without him, there is no “Big Three” era. Without him there is no 2008 title, no 2010 Finals run. Allen is a vital piece of Celtics history and its time he gets his due credit.

All-Around Baller: Jaylen Brown

There was a time that Jaylen Brown was thought of as a bad pick at third overall in the 2016 NBA Draft. There was a time when he was thought of as a bust. Those times are long gone as Brown continues to bloom into an absolute star in the NBA.

Much like Tatum, the 2020 All-Celtics team will no doubt show Brown great favor as he continues to develop into an all-around star that can get you buckets on anyone, and lock down the opposition’s top scorer. There is no ceiling in sight for him. But he will dunk on every superstar in the league on his way to finding out where it is.

Lockdown Defender: Avery Bradley

Avery Bradley might be the biggest unsung hero of the 2010s for the Boston Celtics. He did all he could to keep the Celtics afloat during the horrific mid-2010s while providing some of the best defense and hustle in the entire NBA along the way. For a long time, he filled the same spot in the hearts of Boston fans as Marcus Smart does now. Seeing him and Rajon Rondo in purple and gold will never sit right, especially after all they contributed to the greatest franchise in the NBA.

Honorable Mentions

This story would not be possible without the contributions of two future Hall of Fame coaches in Doc Rivers and Brad Stevens. As hesitant as some fans are to give credit, Kyrie Irving also deserves at least a mention as well. Though his tenure did not go as planned, he was solid while wearing green.

And last, but certainly not least; the man, the myth, the legend, Danny Ainge deserves more praise than any aforementioned individual. He had a vision in 2007. He made it into a reality. Then, he devised what will go down as the greatest long-term plan in NBA history. His tactics will go down as the absolute standard for building and rebuilding a franchise.

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