As I go through this list, I’m going to cluster the teams into little groups, or tiers, of 5 based on my inclination towards watching them. As you might have guessed, this first tier would be the no-way, no-how. These first 5, 30-26, are all lottery teams fairly young into the rebuilding stage and very far away from competing for the playoffs, let alone a title. If I have to watch a tanking team, with rookie 2nd rounders and D-League call-ups, its going to be my own team, not one of these guys.
The Boston Celtics. Nope. Nope, nope, nope. Just not interested at all. The Rajon Rondo rumor mill will give the season in Boston a little flavor, albeit entirely off the court. When the Celtics and General Manager Danny Ainge took PG Marcus Smart with the 6th pick of the draft, it seemed as if it was only a matter of time until Rondo was out the door. There has been some talk that both can share the floor together, but as they pretty much eclipse the same skill-set and lack of outside shooting, I doubt that it actually works out that way. Rondo has been involved in trade rumors for a long time now. With the Knicks, with the Rockets, and with pretty much anyone in the market for a PG over the last two year. As the last hold-over from the 2008 championship team, Boston’s management needs to finally move on. Of course, recent reports that Rondo has broken his hand and will be out for 6-8 weeks will likely sideline all trade talks for awhile.
To his credit, I do think that Ainge is one of the league’s smarter GMs and recognized the exact moment to cash in on Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett; he knew they were too old, before the rest of the league really noticed. When you look back at that trade with Brooklyn, its almost impossible to believe that their GM, Billy King, still has his job. 3 1st round draft picks. 3!!!! Aaand, as if that wasn’t enough, the right to switch picks in 2017 as well, which should come in handy as the Celtics will likely be competitive again by then and the Nets will be extinct. I can’t think of a greater heist in my time watching basketball and it sets the Celtics up for the future very nicely.
Unfortunately, to really reach that future the Celtics may have to blow up whatever present they have. If Smart is any good, Rondo will almost definitely be out the door, and Ainge may want to try to include SF Jeff Green in that deal to rid Boston of its best, and most versatile scorer. Mark my words, both of these guys are gone at the trade deadline and the Celtics are right back picking in the top ten next summer.
So, what is there to watch for? Smart is a burly, exciting player sure, and the team also drafted James Young who set a Kentucky record for 3 pointers in a season. The Celtics have a fun fat-man in Jared Sullinger and a couple of incredibly goofy, non-athletic looking big men in Vitor Faverani and Kelly Olynk, but its hard to say if any of these guys are good enough to be considered indispensable for the long-term rebuild over in Boston. For someone who hated watching these guys when they were good, the chances I’ll watch them suck are pretty much 0.
X-Factor= Marcus Smart
All eyes are going to be on Smart, even more than before thanks to Rondo’s injury. Smart is a great defender, which will pair well with the hawkish Avery Bradley in the Cs backcourt. If he can develop some rapport with his teammates and improve his jump shot, Rondo could be gone much sooner than anyone anticipated. If Smart looks terrible, the front office has a lot of thinking to do.