The Boston Celtics are currently the #3 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 20-14 record. Typically, we would say that’s a pretty good position to be in with 48 games to go in the season. However, as their roster stands right now, the Celtics are not in a position to contend with Cleveland or even Toronto in the NBA Eastern Conference. The Celtics have yet to beat any team that has won at least 60% of their games. In fact, they have lost to the Spurs, Cavs, and Thunder twice each. The Celtics are a team that typically wins the games they’re supposed to win. They compete with the top teams, but they struggle to beat them because they having a missing ingredient in crunch time. Yes, Isaiah Thomas has been outstanding, but a team needs to have more than a scoring point guard in close and late situations. Al Horford, Avery Bradley, and Jae Crowder are not players who create their own shot. As it stands, the Celtics are a team that can probably win a round or even two, but it very unlikely to go further than that.
There has been a of talk about the Celtics needing another big name player. It’s right on. This team needs a superstar in order to contend for a championship. Thomas is not a superstar. He’s not a guy that you build your team around. If Thomas, Al Horford, and Avery Bradley are your 2nd, 3rd, and 4th best players, then you likely have a team that can contend. But, how does Danny Ainge get them there? The Celtics have the Brooklyn Nets first round picks in the next two seasons. These picks are currently the top two assets that the Celtics have. In other words, the Celtics are not going to DeMarcus Cousins, Anthony Davis, or Paul George for the players they have on their roster. They have some nice complimentary players, but they’re not going to get the Celtics the star the covet. The picks might.
So, with all of the focus on a trade to bring in a superstar, is that really the direction that Ainge wants to go? The Brooklyn Nets pick currently has the best chance at getting the #1 pick in this year’s NBA Draft Lottery. This draft is said to be better than last year’s. The chances of getting a top three pick is very good.
Here’s the dilemma. The Celtics are a player away and they don’t have a clear avenue to get that player. There’s no big free agent that they’re going to get this summer. If they trade for Davis or Cousins, they’ll likely have to dismantle their team and trade at least one of the two Brooklyn picks. Remember, Cousins and Thomas played the same team in Sacramento. That team wasn’t good.
If you’re looking for fireworks in 2017, you’re probably not going to get them. The Celtics best path to success is to use these picks and find the next player or asset through the draft. In that scenario, they don’t contend this year. What they do is wait for Lebron James to get a year or two older and then work to take over the East with a team mixed with quality veterans and young talent. It’s not the immediate satisfaction that most Celtics fans want, but it’s the most logical path.
With all of that said, we all know that Danny Ainge is willing to trade any player and any pick. 2017 will be another interesting year to say the least. However, if the Celtics stand pat, it’s not a bad thing. Remember, there is no other playoff team in the NBA that can win playoff games now and have a top three pick in each of the next two drafts.