ESPN Insider analyzed the future of all 30 NBA teams, assigning rankings to each team based on five categories (players, management, money, market and draft).
In their latest analysis, the Boston Celtics ranked 12th in the NBA based on expected success through the 2012-2013 season. The Celtics scored high in management (4th) and market (6th), but graded low in players (17th) and draft (26th). Boston scored 529 on a 1,000-point scale.
Here's the blurb that accompanied their ranking:
The Celtics are performing as expected, as an elite team in the East. But for how long? The Celtics' core of Kevin Garnett (33), Paul Pierce (32), Ray Allen (34) and Rajon Rondo (23) is among the best in the league, but age and injuries will continue to catch up with them.
With the exception of Rondo and role players Kendrick Perkins and Glen Davis, the team is devoid of young talent that can build a bridge to the future. Which explains why the Celtics can be a contender yet land only in the middle of these rankings.
This past weekend, we touched on the Celtics' future and the first of many tough decisions Boston is set to encounter when Ray Allen becomes a free agent this offseason. Later this week, we'll take a bigger look at how the Celtics are positioned beyond this season, but first some quick thoughts on the low rankings in players and draft.
Designating Perkins a "role player" is severely undervaluing his contributions to the team, which is a trap plenty of analysts evaluating the Celtics from the outside fall into. Hey, they call them the Big 3 for a reason. The fact of the matter is that Perkins has doubled his career scoring average this season (12 points per game) and is leading the NBA in field goal percentage (64.94 percent). Still just 25 years old, both he and Rondo are the foundation upon which the future of the Celtics' organization will be built upon. One key is going to be whether the Celtics and Paul Pierce can find a contract length and value that works for both sides, and allows Pierce to retire after a lifetime in Green. Celtics coach Doc Rivers has joked that Pierce has the natural talents to be a scorer in the league until he's 50.
Success is a double-edged sword and the Celtics have most assuredly been challenged to restock based on either trading away their fist-round selections (trades for Allen and Garnett) or picking low in the draft. While they've done a nice job identifying second-round picks -- particularly Davis -- there are players that could -- and will have to -- develop into contributing members (Bill Walker, Lester Hudson). To supplement, the Celtics must continue to identify low-cost free agents like Marquis Daniels that can help offset the talent intake from the draft.