Boston Celtics: SummerForecast2010

Summer Forecast: Pros and cons

September, 10, 2010
9/10/10
4:00
PM ET
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesWhat are Boston's strengths and weaknesses as the new season nears?
To cap our Celtics Summer Forecast series, we wanted to gauge our panel's outlook on the 2010-11 season by having them identify Boston's biggest strength and weakness as the new season approaches.

With such a broad topic, it's interesting to see exactly where the 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs honed in on. It will be even more interesting to look back at season's end and see just how accurate they were with their feelings towards this year's squad and whether preseason perception matches how the actual season unfolds.

Our panel was pretty much unanimous on the strength: Boston kept intact a veteran core with two NBA Finals appearances (and one title) on their resume over the past three seasons. Add to that a beefed up frontcourt (one of the most glaring weaknesses last season) and there's unbridled optimism about the team's ability to get back to the championship round this season.

The weaknesses were a bit more varied. One prevalent theme was the fact that, while Boston's biggest strength is its experience, that advanced age could once again be a detriment for a team that labored through an injury-riddled 2009-10 campaign, then seemed to run out of gas at the worst possible moment in the NBA Finals.

Most also worried about regular-season motivation. After all, this a team that played .500 basketball over the final four months of the regular season after a blistering 23-5 start. Some of that surely stemmed from injuries, but players openly acknowledged that, when your goal is a world title, the regular season can be an 82-game grind to get to the games that, fair or not, truly matter more.

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Summer Forecast: Deadline deal?

September, 9, 2010
9/09/10
1:45
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AP Photo/Charles KrupaWill Danny Ainge be dealing at the deadline? Our panel weighs in.
Earlier in our Celtics Summer Forecast series, we explored how NBA rosters almost inevitably morph over the course of a season. Much of that change -- or at least the most noteworthy of it -- tends to come in mid-February, when teams overhaul their rosters at the trade deadline.

Contenders become buyers; pretenders become sellers. Bodies are moved as quality teams bolster their roster for a playoff run, while struggling squads turn their eyes toward future seasons (and maybe more so this year than any other with a potential lockout looming).

While the Celtics have been relatively minor players at the trade deadline during Danny Ainge's tenure as president of basketball operation, often leaning heavier on veteran free-agent signings late in the season rather than a swap, the team did make a big-splash move last season in shipping Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, and Bill Walker to the New York Knicks in exchange for Nate Robinson and Marcus Landry.

But examine Boston's previous trade deadline history, and you'll find few eyebrow-raisers. For the 14th installment of this year's Celtics Summer Forecast, we asked our panel of 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs whether Boston would make a deadline move during the 2010-11 season.

Admittedly, it's an unfair question. It's asking our panel of Celtics observers to not only predict how the first four months of the season will play out, but gauge what the Celtics' needs will be at that point and what the market will look like around the league.

But here's one telling sign: Nearly our entire panel thought the team would make some sort of move, most pointing to the wing position, where a lack of depth still concerns most of our observers. This shouldn't necessarily be construed as a lack of faith that this roster, as currently constituted, can't get back to the NBA Finals. Rather, it's likely a reflection that our panel believes this team will be championship contenders again and therefore in the market to upgrade for the stretch run.

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Summer Forecast: Wild West

September, 8, 2010
9/08/10
3:00
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Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhat are reasonable expectations for Delonte West? Our panel weighs in.
Barring any last-minute shuffling, the Boston Celtics capped off the roster they'll carry into training camp later this month with the addition of Delonte West. So what can we expect from the soon-to-be seventh-year guard?

That's the question we put to our panel of 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs for the 13th installment of ESPN Boston's Celtics Summer Forecast. West is truly a wild card and his off-the-court troubles will sideline him for the first 10 games of the season, putting him a bit behind when it comes to defining a role on this year's squad.

But our panel expressed great optimism about West's ability to find a role with this team, pegging him as the potential first guard off the bench, adding much-coveted depth behind both Rajon Rondo and Ray Allen with his ability to play both guard spots.

Asked to guess his season stat line, however, our panel seemed more guarded, and their projections averaged out at 7.6 points and 2.5 assists over 17.1 minutes per game. It seemed a bit on the low side for a player who has averaged 10 points and 3.7 assists over 28.4 minutes per game in his first six NBA seasons.

Recent history certainly suggests that players should expect a decrease in their stat lines when coming to Boston, due in large part to the depth of the squad and how contributions are spread out over the roster. And considering West averaged 8.8 points and 3.3 assists over 25 minutes per game in a reserve role with Cleveland last season, maybe our panel's guesses are on point.

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Summer Forecast: Bench MVP

September, 7, 2010
9/07/10
5:00
PM ET
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesIs Glen Davis Boston's most important bench player this season? The panel weighs in.
Part of the preseason buzz surrounding the Celtics last season stemmed from a revamped bench, where the addition of Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels was supposed to make Boston the deepest team in the league.

It didn't quite pan out. Wallace labored through a dreadful regular season and Daniels tore ligaments in his left thumb, then disappeared from the rotation. What's more, Glen Davis fractured his right thumb in an off-the-court incident right before the start of the regular season and spent most of the year playing catch-up.

Even Eddie House, a key contributor off the bench during Boston's 2007-08 title run, struggled before getting shipped out of town with the Celtics desperately seeking a spark at the trade deadline. You can make the case that Tony Allen was the only bench player to meet (or exceed) expectations, overcoming familiar injuries woes to be the most consistent Celtics reserve last season.

Allen bolted for greener pastures in Memphis this summer, but hope springs eternal with the Boston bench, thanks in large part to this year's offseason additions of Shaquille O'Neal and Jermaine O'Neal, two former All-Star centers pegged for reserve duty once Kendrick Perkins recovers from knee surgery.

So we asked our panel of 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs who they thought would emerge as Boston's Sixth Man of the Year during the 2010-11 season. Davis emerged as the top vote-getter, while his Shrek & Donkey counterpart Nate Robinson and Shaq (another green monster) also garnered heavy consideration.

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Summer Forecast: MVP! MVP!

September, 6, 2010
9/06/10
1:45
PM ET
Winslow Townson/US PresswireThere's a reason Rajon Rondo heard MVP chants in the postseason.
There's the potential this season for the Boston Celtics to trot out a starting lineup featuring what Shaquille O'Neal recently dubbed, "four first-ballot Hall of Famers," looping himself in with the vaunted Big Three. Yet close observers of the team are nearly unanimous in their assertion that the most important player on the court is the one who has yet to ascend to that lofty status.

We asked 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs who would emerge as Boston's Most Valuable Player during the 2010-11 season and fifth-year point guard Rajon Rondo was the runaway winner, with 89 percent of the vote.

While many of our panelists grappled with the decision to pick one player, one going so far as to offer a team MVP selection, the only other player to garner a vote was Kevin Garnett.

Yes, Boston's success in this new Big Three era has been dictated by the overall depth and contributions from the entire roster, particularly a starting 5 that typically includes Kendrick Perkins.

With the added depth of former All-Star centers like Shaq and Jermaine O'Neal this offseason, our panel deferred to Rondo because of how instrumental he is -- and will continue to be -- in extracting max performance from players that were once regarded as the MVP of their individual squads.

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Summer Forecast: Perked up

September, 3, 2010
9/03/10
12:24
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Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireShould Kendrick Perkins compete for his starting job once healthy? Our panel weighs in.
Recruited to beef up a Celtics frontcourt exposed on the NBA's biggest stage last season, Jermaine O'Neal and Shaquille O'Neal arrived in Boston this summer uttering all the right things about their roles, including the fact that they'd both be happy as reserves once Kendrick Perkins returned from offseason knee surgery.

Then Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge made a cryptic comment about Perkins having to "compete" for his starting job, raising more than a few eyebrows among those who simply assumed Perkins, once healthy, would reassume his spot in Boston's familiar starting five.

Just hours after Shaq met Boston reporters for the first time last month, Ainge said in a conference call that, "[The addition of Jermaine O'Neal and Shaq] does take pressure off of Kendrick. He has a very bright future and he knows we think very highly of him. We're not certain, though, when he [will be] 100 percent and this allows us to be patient with Kendrick. At the same time, I'm sure he's going to be worried and nervous since we are going to win games with this front line even when he's not playing. I'll be sitting with and talking with Kendrick throughout this whole process and hopefully he can just focus on getting himself healthy and competing for his job back. "

Competing for his job back? Can a basketball player lose his job to injury? Our panel weighs in.

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Summer Forecast: First to go?

September, 2, 2010
9/02/10
2:30
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Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty ImagesNate Robinson sent three Celtics packing last year in a deadline-day trade.
It's the harsh reality of the NBA: A team's roster rarely looks the same at the start of the season as it does at the end.

Just ask Lester Hudson or Brandon Wallace or Patrick O'Bryant.

With that in mind, we asked our panel of 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs to predict which player on the Boston roster is most likely not to survive the 2010-11 season.

With Wednesday's signing of Delonte West, the Celtics boast the maximum of 15 players under contract for next season. The team also has two players with non-guaranteed contracts in Tony Gaffney and Oliver Lafayette.

Despite the lack of roster flexibility, Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge suggested that there will still be competition for spots at camp, with the team apparently open to the idea of eating a contract in order to carry the 15 best players into the regular season.

And even if Boston stands pat through training camp, any moves during the regular season would require a corresponding roster move with the Celtics at max capacity.

So which player will be the first to be traded, cut or retire next season?

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Rookie impact

September, 1, 2010
9/01/10
11:45
AM ET
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesCan Luke Harangody or Avery Bradley make an impact on the 2010-11 Celtics?
The question seemed innocent enough: Which of Boston's rookies will have the biggest impact next season? Our acerbic-tongued panel of Celtics bloggers wasted little time pouncing on the query.

"Impact may be a strong word considering the coach of this team and his track record for splintering the hindquarters of his freshmen class with pine needles," quipped Justin Poulin of Celtics Stuff Live.

Nick Gelso of North Station Sports added, "The rookies will all have a big impact -- in the D-League!"

Yes, our panel will be here all week. Tip your waitstaff.

But the 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs have a point. Ever since the Big Three united in 2007, it hasn't been easy for young players to make an impact on this team, particularly in their freshman campaigns.

While our panel cautioned against expecting too much from any of the rookies, half of the Celtics observers suggested first-round pick Avery Bradley (1st round, 19th overall) would have the biggest impact. Things don't look as promising for Luke Harangody (2nd round, 52nd overall) and Semih Erden (2nd round, 60th overall in 2008). As Red's Army's Chuck McKenney wrote, "I'm not sure Harangody and Erden will see much action, buried behind the deepest frontcourt in the history of the NBA."

Indeed, the second most popular voting option turned out to be "none of the above." Here's the breakdown:

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Second chance

August, 31, 2010
8/31/10
12:00
PM ET
Dennis Wierzbicki/US PresswireOur panel weighs in on expectations for Marquis Daniels.
When the Boston Celtics signed Marquis Daniels last offseason, coach Doc Rivers' cell phone immediately began to light up. Calls flooded in from his coaching brethren, who were downright incredulous that a loaded Boston squad added Daniels -- a player coming off a career year in Indiana -- and did so for a mere $1.9 million, the sum of the bi-annual exception.

"It's amazing when we signed him how many coaches called and said, 'How'd you pull that off?'" Rivers said earlier this year.

The answer soon became evident. Daniels sat out 28 games last season after surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb, the latest ailment in a career often detoured by injuries. Daniels looked a bit hesitant upon returning, and, coupled with a lack of a defined role, soon found himself out of Rivers' rotation for the final part of the year.

When the Celtics re-signed Daniels this offseason at a reasonable $2.4 million -- utilizing Non-Bird Rights to retain their own free agent at 120 percent of his previous value -- Rivers probably fielded a few calls asking why the team would even bother.

Here's why: When able to avoid the injury bug, Daniels is one of the most versatile and productive swingmen in the league. During the 2008-09 season, he averaged a career-high 13.6 points, 3.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.1 steals per game in 54 appearances for the Pacers. But can he stay healthy?

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: The Big Question

August, 30, 2010
8/30/10
12:25
PM ET
Jeff Lewis/Icon SMIWhat can we expect from Shaq this season? Our panel weighs in.
When you're Shaquille O'Neal, expectations will always be inflated.

There's simply no way around it. Even at 38 years old and with 18 NBA seasons under his belt, O'Neal is still viewed as the man who once fearlessly anointed himself, "the most dominant player ever."

There are some who still expect O'Neal to produce the 24.1 points and 11 rebounds per game that he's averaged during a Hall of Fame career that includes four world titles and 15 All-Star Game appearances.

But here's the reality as he joins the Boston Celtics: Shaquille O'Neal is this year's Shelden Williams. Scoff if you must, but -- like Williams -- O'Neal was brought in at the veteran's minimum to add frontcourt depth and -- like Williams -- O'Neal could see extended time at the start of the season due to injury.

Yet O'Neal will be criticized if he posts the 3.7 points and 2.7 rebounds per game that Williams averaged a year ago in 54 appearances. No, the bar will be set at least somewhere around the 12 points and 6.7 rebounds per game that O'Neal averaged last season in 53 appearances (all starts) for Cleveland.

For his part, O'Neal acknowledges that this stop in his career is like no other and he notes that team success should dictate how he's judged more than his stat line.

"The roles I had on previous teams were different," O'Neal said at his introductory press conference earlier this month. "I'm much older now. This team is a good team, with or without me. Sometimes, in order to win, you have to sacrifice. Because, at the end of the day, it's all about sacrificing and nothing else. When I was 'That Guy,' I did everything I was supposed to do. And everything's documented. But now, it's not about that. It's about coming to a team that needs one or two pieces and we're just going to play and play hard and play to win."

So what are reasonable expectations for O'Neal next season? We asked our panel of 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs to offer their thoughts on Shaq's role next season, including their best guess at his minutes, points and rebounds per game.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Final spot

August, 27, 2010
8/27/10
1:30
PM ET
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonTony Allen's departure helped leave one open seat on the Celtics' bench for next season.
When free agency began on July 1, the Celtics boasted a mere five players under contract for the 2010-11 season (one of which planned to retire and another set to undergo major knee surgery). It seemed almost impossible that the team could max out its roster before training camp arrived.

But in a dizzying offseason that has featured 10 signings, that's exactly what happened. And after inking second-round draft choice Luke Harnagody earlier this month, Boston temporarily filled its roster with 15 players under contract for next season.

A space opened quickly when the team waived Rasheed Wallace, facilitating what will lead to his retirement from basketball. All of which leads to the biggest remaining question of Boston's offseason: Who will occupy that 15th roster spot?

We put that question to our panel of 18 writers from eight of our favorite Celtics blogs and got a diverse response about how Boston will proceed. The "slim pickings" (captain Paul Pierce's words) on the free-agent market left most of our experts suggesting a wait-and-see approach, while others are hopeful Ainge can work some of his trade magic and land the type of shooter he covets, like Portland's Rudy Fernandez.

A handful of our experts believe the team will settle on Tony Gaffney, the University of Massachusetts product without any NBA game experience, while one panelist was willing to (re-)roll the dice with Delonte West and his off-the-court troubles.


Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Champs?

August, 25, 2010
8/25/10
1:05
PM ET
Ronald Martinez/Getty ImagesOur panel has high aspirations for the 2010-11 Celtics.
If Boston's rather improbable run to the cusp of a world title last season taught our panel of experts anything it's this: Don't bet against the Celtics.

Unfortunately, that's led to a bunch of bloggers who can't hedge their bets enough when predicting what the future holds for Boston's basketball team. For the third installment in our Celtics Summer Forecast series, we asked our panel of 18 experts from eight popular Celtics blogs to predict how the Celtics' 2010-11 season will end.

Several of our experts were hesitant to put anything past the Green. Maybe North Station Sports' Nick Gelso summed it up best: "Now this is a tough one. I am taking the safe route here: If healthy, the Celtics can beat anyone in the Eastern Conference."

He wasn't alone. Half of our panel hedged their bets in one way or another, many suggesting that the Celtics would meet the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference Finals and tossing their arms up from there.

Even in a bulked-up East, where the Miami Heat were dubbed the landslide favorite to steal Boston's crown by ESPN.com's panel of 93 experts in the national Summer Forecast, our panel is skittish to suggest Boston can't get back to the NBA Finals.

As CelticsBlog's Jimmy Toscano wrote, "We saw a completely different team in the playoffs last season than we saw in the regular season, so if that same intensity returns for the playoffs this season, the Celtics could absolutely be your NBA Finals champs."

But will they?

Click HERE to read the full story.



Over on the national Summer Forecast, our panel of 93 experts pegged the Los Angeles Lakers as most likely to walk away with another Larry O'Brien Trophy. Here's the voting breakdown:

Boston's offseason additions, including Shaquille O'Neal, helped ESPN.com's Chris Sheridan give the Celtics the preseason nod to be champs:
If they had had Kendrick Perkins and a healthy Rasheed Wallace in Game 7, I think they would have won at Staples. Pau Gasol was just too much for them down the stretch. But now they'll have Jermaine O'Neal, too, to check Pau in a deciding game. I still think they need to replace the departed Tony Allen, but it's a long time between now and the trade deadline.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: Planting seeds

August, 24, 2010
8/24/10
3:45
PM ET
AP Photo/Charles KrupaWhere will the Celtics be seeded at season's end? Our panelists weigh in.
The Boston Celtics proved last season that a team’s regular-season record and playoff seeding are not always foolproof indicators of postseason success. Boston sleepwalked through the final four months of the 2009-10 season, earned the lowest possible seed for a division champion, and still came six minutes shy of winning an NBA title.

In Monday’s debut of the Celtics Summer Forecast, our panel of experts predicted a four-win increase for Boston next season. Now, we ponder whether that will help the team improve upon the fourth seed it obtained last year.

Totaling up the responses, our scratchpad looked a bit like a scorecard from a solid round at the local Par 3 golf course (3, 2, 3, 2, 3, 3, 3, 4, 3, 2).

Our 18 experts (yes, we grew overnight) from eight Boston basketball blogs -- CelticsHub, Red’s Army, CelticsBlog, Celtics Town, North Station Sports, and Gino’s Jungle, Celtics Stuff Live, and Celtics 24/7 -- were fairly evenly split on whether the Celtics would land the No. 2 or 3 seed, with a slight edge going to the third spot. No one picked the Green to leap higher than No. 2 or lower than No. 4.

Click HERE to read the full story.

Summer Forecast: How many wins?

August, 23, 2010
8/23/10
12:45
PM ET
Brian Babineau/NBAE/Getty ImagesWhat lies ahead for the 2010-11 Celtics. We've got experts with answers.
Training camp doesn't start for another month and the 2010-11 NBA season doesn't officially tip off for 65 more days. The regular season won't end until eight months from now, and there will be two more months of playoffs before a champion is crowned.

Fortunately for the impatient type, over the next three weeks we're going to tell you everything that's about to happen to the Boston Celtics next season.

With a nod to ESPN.com's national Summer Forecast, we've assembled a panel of 15 writers from six of our favorite Celtics blogs -- CelticsHub, Red's Army, CelticsBlog, Celtics Town, North Station Sports, and Gino's Jungle -- to lend their thoughts on how Boston's season will unfold.

Each weekday for the next three weeks, our panel of experts will tackle one question about the 2010-11 Celtics, combining their crystal balls to provide the clearest glimpse into the future of Boston's basketball team.

We tipped off the series today by asking our panel to predict the Celtics' win-loss record for the upcoming season. The panel's average prediction: 54-28. That's a four-win upgrade from last season, when Boston finished 50-32 overall.

Click HERE to read the full story.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jeff Green
PTS AST STL MIN
16.9 1.7 0.7 34.2
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.1
AssistsR. Rondo 9.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.3
BlocksB. Bass 0.9