The 2016-2017 Boston Celtics reached the NBA Eastern Conference Finals before bowing out to the Cleveland Cavaliers in 5 games.
It is widely expected that they’ll reclaim a position in the conference finals, but this time will look absolutely nothing like the team that was on the floor just a few short months ago.
Of the 15 man roster that ended last season, it is expected that only 4.. FOUR… of them will be around when the team breaks camp in the fall.
Below you’ll find a breakdown of what the roster should look like now, with the knowledge that after trading 3 players (and a future draft pick) for 1 player, that the team will have 1 open spot available (they had already had 16 guaranteed contracts on the books, something that was a pretty solid clue that another move was forthcoming, something that came to fruition this afternoon). With the trade of Crowder, another wing defender may be something that interests the Celtics. Former Celtic champion Tony Allen is a free agent, and would make a lot of sense, or possibly a post player with former Celtic Tyler Zeller returning on a veteran minimum deal.
With that, lets review the current roster.
“PROJECTED STARTING LINE UP” as I project the line up to look
Al Horford – The veteran big is one of the few returning Celtics
Marcus Morris – Acquired from the Pistons for Avery Bradley.
Gordon Hayward – The man previously known as this offseason’s big acquisition. A bonafide go to scorer.
Jaylen Brown – The 2nd year pro gets my nod for the 5th starting spot over Marcus Smart. I was prepared to go with Smart w/Thomas, but that was to let IT4 play off the ball. Kyrie will prefer to have the ball in his hands, so Jaylen’s defensive versatility becomes preferred.
Kyrie Irving: Isaiah Thomas was an all star, Gordon Hayward is an all star, Kyrie Irving can be a superstar. His father has his number retired at Boston University, Kyrie can have his retired at the Garden.
VETERAN BENCH PLAYERS:
Marcus Smart: One of only four returners. With Crowder and Bradley gone, Smart now becomes the absolute heart and soul of the Celtics defense. Conversely, the acquisition of Irving lowers the need to overpay Smart on an extension.
Aron Baynes: A solid big signed away from Detroit. At worst, he should ably replicate the contributions received from Amir Johnson
Shane Larkin: Larkin returns to the states after spending last season in Europe. Hyped coming out of the University of Miami, Larkin could be the next Brad Stevens reclamation project in the line of Jordan Crawford and Evan Turner.
Terry Rozier: The last of the returning vets, this 3rd year guard has flashed the ability to be a consistent contributor to an NBA rotation. With the departure of Thomas, Bradley, and Gerald Green, Rozier will be given ample chances at playing time.
THE BIG ROOKIE CLASS:
Jayson Tatum: The 3rd overall pick, Tatum/Brown/Hayward/Irving is a very strong nucleus moving forward. If he can show that he can play the 4 in the modern NBA (which I believe he can), he could be the man on the floor in the 4th quarter over Morris.
Guerschon Yabusele: The dancing bear is already a fan favorite in Boston after playing zero minutes. The 2016 #16 pick was a draft n stash guy who spent last year in China before a brief end of year stint in Maine.
Daniel Theis: A rookie in the sense that he hasn’t played in the NBA, this young vet has earned his chops in Europe, and will likely be an early season contributor as a big with a soft outside touch.
Abdel Nader: Another 2016 pick, he played all of last season in the NBDL, and was the league’s rookie of the year, and one of the top overall performers. A potential 3 and D player who earned his way into this roster spot.
Semi Ojeleye: A versatile defender, he’ll assume the Jae Crowder role of Celtic you’d least like to have come at you in a bar fight. Coupled with a nice outside stroke, he could find a role early.