So in the midst of losing our head coach, two future Hall-of-Famers, constant rumors that our uber-talented point guard is soon out the door, repeated talks of tanking and now a former Kardashian on the roster, you would think that the natural reaction of a Boston Celtics fan would be to bury their heads in the sand, obsess over the Sox/Bruins/Pats, sob hysterically after their fourth shot of Jameson, and rewatch Larry Bird: A Basketball Legend for the sixth time in two days just to make the pain go away.
And to be fair, I’ve done three out of those four things (I can’t find any sand). But no longer! The grieving period is over. Now that the free agency period is coming to a close and summer leagues are in full swing, it’s time to look forward to a brighter future. Here are four reasons to cheer up and love the Celtics!
1. The Celtics have a freakin’ cool coaching staff.
Seriously. This staff is wild.
First off, you have Brad Stevens, who Boston fans are already giddy with excitement over and who every college coach (including Coach K) has lauded with praise and well wishes (and who I’ve already ranted and raved about here). Not only that, but he pretty much has an understood carte blanche for this season, and isn’t the savior that we expected out of, say, Rick Pitino. Behind him, you have mainstays from the previous staff in Jamie Young and Jay Larranaga.
The latter is drawing a lot of interest from teams with head coaching vacancies, but if he stays, he will be an invaluable link to the past era for Stevens to depend on. You have Micah Shrewsberry, Stevens’ trusted former assistant coach at Butler, as well as recent assistant coach at Purdue. You have Ron Adams, Thibs’ assistant coach with the Bulls who was bizarrely let go this offseason, but by all accounts is a well-respected and strong assistant. And then there’s Drew Cannon, the 23-year-old stats guru with Stevens at Butler, often referred to as one of the team’s “secret weapons.”
I mean seriously. Haven’t you seen Moneyball? This can only be a good sign. All the Celtics need is a former player AC (it’s a damn tragedy that Brian Scalabrine was already snatched up by the Warriors) and they have the makings of a powerful, and downright entertaining, staff to lead the team into a new era.
2. The Return of Marshon Brooks
Lost in all of the Pierce-KG to Brooklyn chaos was this sneakily awesome acquisition. Avery Bradley is a great guard, with a weird psychic link with Rondo that leads to beautiful back door cuts and he is without question one of the best defensive guards in the entire league.
But he’s not a great shooter, and a big concern is that after being forced into the point-guard spot last year, he may have lost some of his confidence.But never fear. Because Brooks, a Celtic for half an hour before being flipped to Brooklyn, and former ProCo product, is an absolute gunner.
Don’t forget, in 2011-12 Brooks was a Second-Team rookie, averaging 12.6 PPG in 29.4 minutes. Last year his stats plummeted, but that’s what happens when you’re below Joe Johnson on the depth chart. Despite his slightly questionable advanced stats, and his tendency for turnovers, the one thing Brooks doesn’t lack is confidence. With an increased role with the Celtics, a fresh start on a new team, and in front of fans who were clamoring for him two years ago, there’s little reason that Brooks can’t develop into a high-energy sixth man who can provide instant offense off the bench.
3. Because no matter how bad it gets, this draft is going to be awesome.
Alright, so the Celtics definitely shouldn’t tank. It’s never worked, it’s never going to work. It’s a karmic mess and the Celtics failed miserably in their previous two tries (Duncan and Durant). But, even if the Celtics aren’t the team that ends up taking Andrew Wiggins, the preseason consensus No. 1 pick, the pool is ridiculously deep. There’s Jabari Parker, a fantastic small forward in the Grant Hill/Carmelo mold who will have a year of learning with Coach K at Duke. There’s Julius Randle, who has a great Webber/Mashburn inside-outside game to go along with his freakish body. There’s the Harrison twins at Kentucky. There’s the vertical-defying Aaron Gordon at Arizona. There’s super-intriguing international prospects like Mario Hezonja, Dario Saric, or Dante Exum. And there’s Marcus Smart, who shocked many with his decision to return to OK State for another year, even with his strongly developed playmaking and leadership skills. The point being, that even if the Celtics fall into that 7-10 range (and let’s not forget that Nets’ first rounder), Boston will be picking up a great prospect on the cheap. The future is very bright for Boston, despite the uncertainty leading up to this year.
When the Celtics selected Gonzaga big man Kelly Olynyk with the 13th pick in the draft, I, like many Celtics fans, was completely non-plussed.
For those of us looking for hope after the Brooklyn megadeal, there didn’t seem to be much to be found in the seven-foot Canadian with the goofy smile and Diego Forlan hair. I had always attributed Gonzaga’s success last season to a combination of Mark Few’s prowess, the lingering spirit of Dan Dickau, and some weird Jesuit voodoo magic.
But boy was I wrong. Kelly Olynyk was the surprise of the Orlando Summer League, averaging 18 PPG and 7.8 RPG, shooting 57.8% from the field, and showing off his 3-point range and his former-point-guard-before-he-sprouted handles.
He received praise from players across the league, and, most importantly, from former Celtic Kevin McHale, saying “He’s just a very nice, nice player. He does a lot of old-school stuff.”
Plus, Jeff Green has already nicknamed him “Sunshine”, after the QB from Remember the Titans, aka the greatest thing ever.
Am I still convinced that Olynyk is really the Sasquatch with a haircut come to the States to show off his long-dormant basketball skills? Yes. Am I still desperately hoping that the Celtics sign back Greg “The Stiemer” Stiemsma, so that he, Olynyk, and Colton Iverson can do Three Stooges routines at halftimes of games? Yes. Am I now eagerly awaiting the Kelly Olynyk era? Absolutely.