The Boston Celtics have improved significantly since missing the 2014 playoffs after they traded Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets. Heading into the 2016-17 NBA season, the Celtics have added several key players that can help them take the next step.
Will the Celtics finally take the leap from being playoff contenders to legitimate title contenders in the Eastern Conference? Here is SportsRageous’ 2016-17 NBA season preview for the Boston Celtics that include analysis, outlook and predictions.
Boston Celtics 2016-17 NBA Season Preview
The Celtics won an impressive 48 games this season and finished fifth in the Eastern Conference. They were eliminated in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks. However, Boston showed a lot of promise and they have the potential to become title contenders in just a couple years.
Many NBA analysts have predicted that the Celtics will need some time to recover after trading most of their key players from the 2008 championship. But the team has proven them wrong for the past two seasons as they quickly become playoff contenders.
Boston is entering the 2017 NBA season as one of the top four teams in the East. They currently have 20 players on their training camp roster with only 15 players making the final cut.
Boston Celtics 2016-17 Training Camp Roster
PG: Demetrious Jackson, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas
SG: Avery Bradley, Marcus Georges-Hunt, R.J. Hunter, James Young
SF: Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Gerald Green, Jalen Jones, Damion Lee
PF: Ben Bentil, Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Jordan Mickey
C: Al Horford, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller
Key Losses: Jared Sullinger (Toronto Raptors), Evan Turner (Portland Trail Blazers)
The Celtics had an easy decision letting go of Jared Sullinger since they added a better player in Al Horford. His absence won’t be felt by Boston but the same cannot be said with Evan Turner, who signed a four-year, $70 million deal with the Portland Trail Blazers.
The former second overall pick was one of the most important players for the Celtics last season. He was a player who does everything from making plays, scoring in bunches or defending several positions. Nevertheless, there are players that will step up and provide that spark off the bench.
Key Additions: Al Horford (Free Agency), Jaylen Brown (NBA Draft)
Possibly the biggest addition in free agency not named Kevin Durant, the Celtics signed Al Horford to a four-year, $113 million. The 30-year-old is a four-time NBA All-Star that can shoot outside and defend the pain. He is an upgrade at the center position and he will serve as the second star behind Isaiah Thomas.
On the other hand, the Celtics have also added Jaylen Brown via the NBA draft. He was picked third overall and he has the athleticism that wowed the Boston front office. However, he might not play big minutes but he is expected to contribute right away.
The Boston Celtics were a top-five defense last season and adding Al Horford will only solidify them as one of the best defensive teams in the league. Avery Bradley was an All-NBA First Team Defense last season with other defensive players such as Jae Crowder, Marcus Smart and Amir Johnson.
Besides the defense, Boston was also a top-ten offense last season led by All-Star point guard Isaiah Thomas. They also of have a great young head coach, Brad Stevens, who is considered as one of the next great coaches in the NBA.
The team has no glaring weakness at the moment but there are certainly ways to improve the Celtics moving forward including their outside shooting. Adding another superstar would be a priority with Danny Ainge pacing himself before pulling a big trade.
Ainge has been a great executive for the Boston Celtics and he knows when to pull a shocking deal. He has a lot of young players as trade bait, as well as two first round picks from the lowly Brooklyn Nets.
Boston Celtics 2016-17 Predictions
- Projected 15-Man Roster:
- PG: Demetrious Jackson, Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart, Isaiah Thomas
- SG: Avery Bradley, R.J. Hunter
- SF: Jaylen Brown, Jae Crowder, Gerald Green
- PF: Jonas Jerebko, Amir Johnson, Jordan Mickey
- C: Al Horford, Kelly Olynyk, Tyler Zeller
The Boston Celtics have been very patient with James Young, who was the 17th overall pick in 2014. He has failed to improve his game ever since entering the league. The final roster spot will likely come down to him and R.J. Hunter but the nod goes to Hunter, who is a better shooter than Young.
Projected Starting 5: PG – Thomas, SG – Bradley, SF – Crowder, PF – Johnson, C – Horford
Projected NBA Record: 54 wins, 2nd place in the Eastern Conference