Celtics Lead

C’s One Year Away From Contention?

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Every year there’s always a team or two that get labeled as being “one year away”. This season, that team is the Boston Celtics. Entering last year, many thought that they were the team to beat in the east. However, thanks to Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kawhi Leonard, and Kyrie Irving, that wasn’t the case. With Irving cratering the season for the Celtics through selfish on-court play and absolutely bizarre off-court antics, the Celtics’ offseason and future became a massive question.

With Summer League and most of free agency over, the Celtics are beginning to show some promise again. However, with all of the talent all over the NBA, the 76ers acquiring Al Horford and Josh Richardson, and the Bucks keeping their core together, this season likely won’t end in a banner for the Green. But next year, next year could be different.

There are several components that a team needs to be ‘one year away.’ The Celtics have had one of those in place for years– a great coach. Having Brad Stevens at the helm will be crucial for the development and future of this young roster. This brings me to my next point: the Celtics still have a young roster. The duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be in year 3 and have a really strong chance to grow without the shadow of Irving looming over them.

At their young ages, they could still develop to be stars. Tatum, the NBA’s reigning skills competition champion, still has an incredible offensive skill set at just 21 years old. On top of that, he also has the frame and athletic ability to become an all-around star. To pair with him, Brown is also beginning to bud into a star. While he started last year poorly, he really turned it around and became a force down the stretch. In fact, Jaylen Brown still has an opportunity to shape out to be a two-way player in the mold of Paul George. Don’t believe me? Check the stats.

Brown and Tatum will be joining Kemba Walker and Marcus “winning plays” Smart on Team USA this year. Playing on Team USA has more often than not led to future success for a lot of guys, especially when they’re also teammates in the NBA. In 2014, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson played on Team USA together and cited that experience as a major part of their growth together and a big reason as to why they won the title in 2015.

On the topic of Smart, all winning teams need a guy that is willing to do anything to win. The Raptors had Fred VanVleet, the Warriors had Andre Iguodala (another Team USA Alum), the Heat had Shane Battier. The list goes on, but Marcus is always playing harder than everyone else and making smart plays. All winning teams need a dude that shows up big like that.

Finally, this season we may see the Gordon Hayward that we knew from Utah. I know this is a lot to ask for, but maybe we can see 90% of that guy. It should be easier without the ball-stopping and toxic behavior of Irving. Most of this Celtics roster thrives with a lot of the ball movement that Stevens likes to employ, so we may see an improvement from Hayward this year.

The Celtics can be a team to reckon with after a season of growing together. They have talented youth, a smart head coach, a new leader in Walker, and a motivated former all-star in Hayward.

Oh, and in case you forgot about how clutch Walker truly is:

As always feel free to comment, share, or tweet me @TheRucasJohnson and follow @CelticsLead on Twitter for the latest Celtics news and insight.

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About Luke Johnson

I'm not the commissioner of the NBA, but I should be. Tweet me @TheRucasJohnson

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