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The Case Against Trading For Jahill Okafor

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The following is a guest post from Seth Landman

Next time you hear someone refer to a young basketball player as “NBA-ready,” please do me a favor and roll your eyes as dramatically as you can manage. Remember how Jabari Parker was supposed to be more NBA-ready than Andrew Wiggins? The trope goes back further than that. In 2004, Emeka Okafor was more NBA-ready than Dwight Howard. In 2003, LeBron was going to be a superstar, but ‘Melo was more ready. Just last season, many of our most esteemed basketball minds believed that Jahlil Okafor was more NBA-ready than Karl-Anthony Towns. You can look it up.

These days, there is some buzz (again!) that the Celtics are interested in trading for Jahlil Okafor, and many C’s fans feel like this is a good idea. The logic is that Okafor would be at least the 3rd best player in this coming draft, so giving up the 3rd pick for him would be a great idea. He’s an elite post-scorer, right? He averaged 17.5 points per game as a rookie! He’s going to be great!

Unfortunately, Jahlil Okafor’s game seems to be perfectly calibrated to dupe people into believing he’s a much better player than he is. In fact, we learned this season that Okafor was not NBA-ready at all. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Third Pick Just Leaves Boston With More Questions

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As Ryan alluded to, the Celtics ending up with the third pick Tuesday night is a fitting homage to this team right now – it’s fine, better than people were bracing for or even expecting, but noticeably short of where they want to be.

A #1 or #2 pick would have meant a star in some form, either the weird super-combo of Rajon Rondo and Giannis Antetokounmpo that is Ben Simmons, or the sweet-shooting two-way string bean that is Brandon Ingram. Or maybe they use the allure of those two to finally pry Jimmy Butler or DeMarcus Cousins from the everlasting vice grips of their respective teams.

A #4 pick or worse would have resulted in groans and bemoans of Boston’s continued lottery futility, followed by a 99.9% chance of a Craigslist ad submitted by a “DA17Green” for all the picks in the 2016 draft in return for just about anything more tangible than yet another bleeping one-skill role player.

But the third pick? It’s so perfectly down the middle. No one, including Danny Ainge, seemed quite sure of how to react, other than to say something to the effect of, “Every option is on the table for us.” Which, duh.

Even if every option is, indeed, still on the table, the preference still has to be a trade. The Celtics are looking to improve now from back-to-back unceremonious first round exits, and any of the youngsters below the two big names will, even in the best case scenario, take a season or two to develop into what you want them to. (The one exception may be Buddy Hield, but I’m not sold on him as anything more than a very good microwave-type scorer off the bench. Evaluating draft prospects are also a never-ending story for another day.)

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The Nearly Year For The Celtics

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The Celtics offered four first-round picks for the chance to move up from no. 16 to no. 9: that 16th pick, no. 15 (acquired in a prearranged contingency deal with the Hawks), one unprotected future Brooklyn pick, and a future first-rounder from either the Grizzlies or Timberwolves, per sources familiar with the talks.

Zach Lowe, On the 2015 NBA Draft

With that, The Nearly Year began for the Boston Celtics.

Wyc Grousbeck, the Celtics owner and drawing room rep, was reduced to this: hoping for “3,” the only ball that would hold Boston in the No. 3 slot, a one-in-eleven shot at that exact moment.

Zach Lowe, On the 2016 NBA Lottery

With that, The Nearly Year ended for the Boston Celtics.

It’s been a year of promise and frustration, in nearly equal measure, for Celtics fans. Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics Land the 3rd Pick at the NBA Draft Lottery

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The dust has finally settled, and the Boston Celtics will have the third overall pick in the 2016 NBA draft this June. The pick, which originally belonged to the Brooklyn Nets, should yield either a promising young rookie or could become a major pillar of a larger trade package.

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Market Watch: Exploring the Value of Second Round Draft Picks

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This post will be the first in a series where I dive into the value of some of the Celtics’ lesser loved assets. I won’t only be focusing on the specific value to the Celtics, but also how the value of the type of asset is changing in the larger context of the league. We’ll start with everyone’s favorite penny stock: 2nd Round Picks.

Through years of wheeling and dealing the Celtics have amassed a glut of draft picks, including eight this June. The sheer number of picks has led to numerous discussions over if the team would be able to use all the selections, and if having that many all at once is actually a bad thing. No one questions the utility of the three 1st round picks, but the five 2nds seem to leave people at a loss.

One of the issues in discussing these 2nd round picks is that, maybe because the team has so many, they tend to get lumped together as one block. Like the 1st round, the 2nd round can be broken down into tiers by historic performance and utility. Let’s start by defining those tiers for 2nd round picks, then think about how the changing league landscape impacts each type of picks. Read the rest of this entry »

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Celtics to Partner with New Balance and Build New Practice Facility in Allston-Brighton

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The Boston Celtics announced that the team would begin construction on a new practice and training facility, scheduled to be completed in the spring of 2018. The team will partner with the NB Development Group LLC, the organization responsible for Boston Landing, the space that now houses the Boston Bruins’ new facilities.

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Danny Ainge Has A Long Offseason Wish List

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Danny Ainge was busy making the rounds this week following the conclusion of the Celtics’ postseason in six games against the Atlanta Hawks. After holding court with reporters on Wednesday in his end-of-season press conference, Ainge took to the radio on Thursday for his weekly hit with Toucher and Rich on 98.5 The Sports Hub.

While perimeter shooting remains at the top of Boston’s needs entering the 2016 offseason following a dismal performance for the second straight year in Round 1, Ainge pointed to another theme that has been consistent target in past summers for Boston: Rim protection.

“It was pretty incredible that we were the fourth-rated defense in the NBA without a shot blocker, really. I mean, Amir does a pretty good job, but he’s the only one that really provides length at the rim. And that’s a real testament to our perimeter defenders. But that is one thing in the offseason that we will be looking for is somebody who can be more of a rim protector. At least a specialist.” Read the rest of this entry »

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Navigating the Celtics’ Offseason

bos_g_danny-ainge_mb_576Trends and Forces       

No team operates in a vacuum. The Celtics, coming off a positive season with a disappointing end, are entering what is viewed as a critical offseason at a time when the league’s traditional team-building foundational principles are changing. This is well-trod territory, but it’s worth just looking at what the “new TV deal” cap increase looks like.

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Last year’s $7M cap increase, which was barely noticed as people looked to the future, was, in raw dollars, the third largest cap increase ever. Next season the cap is projected to increase by $22M, with a further $16M (and it will end up being more than that) tacked on the following year.

This means that functionally every team in the league would be willing and able to clear enough cap space to sign a transformative player like Kevin Durant, if he chose them. We could actually see a team break the regular season wins record and then make one of the biggest free agent signings in league history.

In this environment the traditional team building tools are all seeing their values change. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Good, the Bad, and the Unknown for the Celtics Following Another First-Round Exit

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Despite two hard fought home victories, the Celtics have been officially eliminated from the 2016 NBA post-season. The culprit – the Atlanta Hawks – will move on to the next round and face the Cleveland Cavaliers. Boston, meanwhile, can turn its attention to an off-season that will be full of intrigue.

Before diving deep into what the draft and free agency will yield, it’s worth taking the time to dwell on what we saw out of this Celtics team (and Brad Stevens) during the course of those six fateful playoff games.

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Deja Vu All Over Again: Celtics Fall to Hawks in Game 6, Season Ends

 

Other than the jersey colors, Game 6 ran pretty much the same path as Game 5. The Celtics played great D early and forced several turnovers, but they only got 3 points off of them and struggled to hit shots overall. This led to various players forcing shots, and Atlanta was eventually able to respond and pull away by halftime.

Isaiah Thomas’s call for his teammates to step up and help him were met with a couple of sparks, but not much else. Jonas Jerebko hit a couple of big threes, Marcus Smart made a few successful drives to keep it close, and Jae crowder finally got hot after 23 quarters to pull the deficit to respectability late. But Thomas was aggressively doubled again, and Boston struggled to make Atlanta pay for it.

Defensively, the team struggled again. There could be a myriad of factors attributed to that – Avery Bradley’s absence, the team looking exhausted, frustration from missed shots, you name it. Whatever the reason, Atlanta got to the hoop at will, rotations were missed, and the Hawks put the game mostly to bed with a 37 point third quarter.

This was a terrible matchup from the start. Atlanta’s defense found a way to snuff out what,little offense Boston could muster, and Boston’s defense seemed to run out of gas by the middle of game 4. It was going to be hard for Boston to pull it off at full strength, let alone with all the bumps, bruises, strains, and sprains they suffered as the series went on.

A plethora of questions need to be answered about this team, both as a result of this series and the season as a whole. But there’s plenty of good to take from what happened this year. The team improved as a whole, in record, standing, and ability. Thomas looks like a legit offensive piece to build around. Crowder is a dangerous multi-tool player. Stevens is suddenly a legitimate recruiting piece this offseason. Lots of questions remain, but lots to look forward to, as well.

Lots more to come, about tonight and the offseason, in the coming days. But be proud of this team for now. The past few days sullied it a bit, but the future is very bright.

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