Can Boston Celtics challenge this NBA season?
The NBA lockout will have both a positive and negative effect on the aging Boston Celtics roster. A longer off-season should benefit the older players, but a shorter season with a tough schedule could play a massive role in Boston’s success.
Danny Ainge added a lot of smaller pieces to the team in the free agency period, to attempt to add depth to the team and also to allow for the big three to rest on the bench for a longer time.
Marquis Daniels, who was traded from Boston to Sacramento last season, will return after not playing a single game for the Kings.
He has made a full recovery from extensive spinal surgery, and has impressed in both the intra-squad scrimmage and the first pre-season game against Toronto.
Probably the biggest acquisition this off-season would be power forward Brandon Bass from the Orlando Magic. He was traded to Boston for forward Glen Davis and guard Von Wafer.
So far Doc Rivers has been impressed with Bass saying, “I like that he just plays hard, low maintenance, just plays hard every night.” He was solid in their first pre-season game with nine points, five rebounds and three steals in 24 minutes.
Boston picked up two promising young players from Purdue in the NBA Draft – forward JaJuan Johnson and guard E’Twaun Moore.
Johnson was named the Big Ten Player of the Year and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season. He averaged 20.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game in 2010-11.
Moore was an Honorable Mention Associated Press All-American last season with 18.0 points, 5.1 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Both players will get limited playing time in their rookie season, but will still look to contribute in every way possible.
The 2010 NBA Development League Defensive Player of the Year Greg Stiemsma will also join Boston this season. He played for the Sky Force last season and averaged 9.0 points, 10.8 rebounds and 4.5 blocks per game.
The Celtics hope he can help veteran big men Kevin Garnett and Jermaine O’Neal. Other players to join Boston are Keyon Dooling and Chris Wilcox.
With the loss of Jeff Green for the entire season, the Celtics starters will face one of the toughest seasons, at one stage playing eight road games in 13 days.
They start off the season with a three-game road trip and have to face title contenders New York and Miami. These key games could become even more difficult if their captain Paul Pierce sits out with a heel injury.
Boston has two five-game home streaks in January and February, before traveling a lot in the later part of the season.
You would think that this is the final run for the Celtics to win another title while having the big three and with four of their starters aged in their mid 30s, health will be the most important factor this season.
Brandon Bass will play a key role coming off the bench and Marquis Daniels could get a lot of minutes if injury strikes Pierce or Allen.
The Boston Celtics will have a respectable season with around 40-45 wins. Production out of the older players will slowly decline, which will give an opportunity for young point guard Rajon Rondo to turn into an elite player.
If Rondo can increase his scoring by improving his jump shot, he could help lead the Celtics to a memorable championship.