Boston Celtics Achieved A Lot This NBA Season, But Now Is The Time To Look To Future In What Could Be The Next Boston Dynasty
The 2016-17 Boston Celtics achieved all that was expected of them.
Going into this season the goal set forth upon the Celtics by fans and by experts was to win just over 50 games in the regular season and in theory make it to the Eastern Conference Finals based off of the talent on teams in their conference. Both of these were accomplished by the Celtics paired with the fact that they ended up being the number 1 seed in the East.
Now with the season behind them after losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1 in the East Finals, it is time to reflect on this past seasons success while also looking towards the future.
This post-season was the third in the Brad Stevens era, two seasons ago they lost to Cleveland in round 1, and then last season they lost in the first to Al Horford’s Atlanta Hawks. This time around the Celtics defeated the Chicago Bulls in the first round after starting the series down 0-2, then in the second round Boston defeated the Washington Wizards in a tightly contested series many around the NBA thought they were going to lose.
In the Eastern Conference Finals with all the cards stacked against them the Celtics managed to do what no other team was able to do to the Cavs, and that was winning a game. They achieved that win without star guard Isaiah Thomas, which has begged the ridiculous question “Are the Boston Celtics better without Thomas?”.
The Thomas talk will continue to build as the two-time all-star is set to be a free agent after next season, and with the number 1 overall pick potentially being a guard, Thomas’s time in Boston could be limited.
There are plenty of questions that Danny Ainge and company have to answer, but the most important one is how will they take a 53-win team and make it better than Cleveland, and more importantly, the Golden State Warriors.
That question is the big picture one with the Thomas question residing underneath. The options in front of Ainge are vast, use the draft pick on Fultz and then decide on whether to keep Thomas or Avery Bradley (free agent after next season), or potentially move on from both in favor of Marcus Smart and a player like Fultz.
In addition to either of those choices, Boston still needs to upgrade their roster at the small forward position as the abilities of Jae Crowder do not hold up against the best small forwards in the league. There is the rumor of former Butler forward and Brad Stevens student Gordon Hayward.
Another option instead of Hayward would be a trade that would bring Paul George to Boston in exchange for next year’s Nets pick.
Ainge has plenty of choices ahead of him, and the decisions he makes this offseason will determine the fate of the Celtics for the next 10-15 years. The wrong move here could be catastrophic to all the growth that has occurred in the last four seasons.
This past Cleveland series showed that Boston is easily two legitimate star players away from the Cavs, and on top of that a role player who can rebound the basketball to compete with Tristan Thompson. Boston has all the assets they need to make multiple moves to compete with Cleveland next season.
The question will be does Ainge take the short-term play (trade pick) or the long-term play (draft with pick). Everything this year’s Celtics team accomplished has been amazing, they have shown immense growth and players like Jaylen Brown emerged as a star in the near future. Now is the time to start thinking of the future and what could be another Celtics team that could compete for multiple NBA championships.