Boston Celtics: SummerForecast2013

Summer Forecast: Camp fires

August, 30, 2013
8/30/13
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Julie Cordeiro/NBAE/Getty ImagesThe Brad Stevens era launches with the start of training camp in late September.
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What is the most intriguing story line at camp?

Training camp is still a month away, but the 2013-14 season is slowly ramping up. Players are trickling into the team's training facility in Waltham for informal workouts and the hype machine (yes, even for a team in transition) ought to be spinning by the middle of September in advance of camp.

We asked our prognosticators to give us their take on some of the more endearing story lines as camp approaches. Not surprisingly, most are interested in how 36-year-old first-year head coach Brad Stevens will put his stamp on the franchise, while, on the court, much of the interest lies in the backcourt as Boston is thin on ball-handlers if Rajon Rondo is not ready to start the season, and there's a surplus of shooting guards.

What am I most interested in? There's an awful lot of areas that intrigue me about this new-look team. A few that ought to be at the top of the watch list when camp arrives:

Stevens in the spotlight: After being hired in early July, Stevens stressed that he would utilize the three-month ramp to his first NBA training camp to absorb everything he could about his players and would enter camp ready to maximize their potential. It will be fascinating to see how veteran players -- even on a very young roster -- respond to his early sessions and how he starts this process of implementing his system.

Rondo Watch: Rehabbing point guard Rondo has managed to keep a low profile this summer and we'll get a better idea of his return timeline around camp. His teammates (past and present) have all seemingly pointed to a potential December return, but it's unclear if that's speculation or inside info. Whether Rondo is ready or not, his ability to be the leader of a young team will be under the microscope.

Position battles: We've said it before, but go ahead and name the starting 5. No easy task, right? For the first time in a long time, jobs are wide open, especially at overstocked positions like shooting guard and power forward. But Boston has to find a balance between building for the future, and showcasing some players that might make quality trade assets if they can reestablish their value. I want to see how exactly Stevens and Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge balance all of that.

Read on to see what jumps out to our panel.

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Summer Forecast: A return encounter

August, 29, 2013
8/29/13
10:00
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Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE/Getty ImagesBiggest game of the year? When these two return to Boston in January.
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What is the most intriguing game of the season?

Let's be honest here, this was the easiest question of the forecast. When the Brooklyn Nets visit on Sunday, Jan. 26, it will be Boston's Super Bowl (even if it's the bye week before the big gridiron game). The return of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett will undoubtedly be one of the biggest stories of the 2013-14 season. It's going to be an insanely emotional night at TD Garden and, even if Tom Brady and the Patriots are trekking to New York around the same time, hoops will dominate the Boston sports world that night (and maybe that night only next season).

When we polled our panel, the only question was whether the Celtics-Nets game would be a unanimous decision. Just about everyone agreed that it doesn't get any bigger than Jan. 26, but some in our blogger crew did a nice job trying to highlight some less-obvious dates on the calendar. And since you'll be reading plenty about Jan. 26 from our panel, allow us to use this space to highlight three other games that pique our interest next season:

Jan. 5 at Oklahoma City: The Thunder actually serve as the appetizer for the big Nets visit with a tilt in Boston on Jan. 24, and yet a rare Kevin Durant appearance here will be completely overshadowed by the Pierce/KG return two nights later. With Jeff Green set to be thrust into a blazing green spotlight this season, the Jan. 5 visit to Oklahoma City intrigues us because it's a chance for Green to show the team that traded him away what he's fully capable of in a starring role. Oh, and Rajon Rondo vs. Russell Westbrook is always fun, too.

Feb.21 at Los Angeles Lakers: The trade deadline is Feb. 20 and Boston spends an offday trekking from Phoenix to Los Angeles. Every meeting with the Lakers is a big deal -- even if both teams are projected to struggle this season -- but the curiosity of how Boston's post-deadline roster will look adds a dash of spice to this rivalry game.

Dec. 8 at New York Knicks: The Celtics have an overhauled roster that sort of diminishes this playoff rematch. But while everyone's all hyped for the other Empire State rival, here's why the Knicks game is interesting to us: Avery Bradley vs. Raymond Felton. After getting dominated in the playoffs, Bradley (and two healthy shoulders) gets a chance to redeem himself and -- if Rajon Rondo is sidelined at the start of the season while rehabbing from the ACL tear -- this could be around the time the All-Star point guard makes a return as Boston's schedule calms down from a hectic November.

Again, there are more obvious dates that you'll read about below (like opening night or Doc Rivers' Boston return in December), but those are just a few that should generate some additional buzz.

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Summer Forecast: Big season for Bradley

August, 28, 2013
8/28/13
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Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesWill Avery Bradley have fans fired up again during the 2013-14 season?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What are your expectations for Avery Bradley?

Bradley is coming off a 2012-13 season that featured all sorts of peaks and valleys. He missed the first 30 games while rehabbing from double shoulder surgery, provided a defensive jolt that inspired some of Boston's best basketball upon his return, struggled when backcourt mate Rajon Rondo was lost for the season forcing him into increased ball-handling duties, and lost confidence in his offensive game while his body broke down again late in the season (then his defense slipped as he was routinely torched by New York's Raymond Felton in the playoffs).

Bradley landed on the All-Defensive second team and with good reason. According to individual defensive statistics logged by Synergy Sports, Bradley limited opponents to 0.697 points per play, the lowest mark in the league among those with at least 475 total defensive possessions. Opponents shot just 30.8 percent against Bradley and scored just 31.8 percent of the time, also a league low based on at least 475 possessions.

But Bradley struggled just as mightily offensively. Of all players with at least his 574 total offensive possessions, Bradley ranked 183rd out of 187 in points per possession, according to Synergy data.

On Tuesday, a beefed-up Bradley detailed how he hopes his first uninterrupted offseason of his pro career will bring more consistency to his game next season. Our panel seems to agree that a healthy Bradley should (1) See his offensive numbers recover a bit and (2) Have a chance to be an All-Defensive first-teamer.

But a healthy Bradley will also find increased expectations this season, particularly as he approaches his next contract. Bradley must prove that he can be consistent enough offensively for the Celtics to commit to him as their long-term starting shooting guard, while he must prove that his playoff struggles were an aberration.

The guess here? With the departure of Kevin Garnett, it's on Bradley to sort of set the defensive intensity for these new-look Celtics and he must continue to be an on-ball pest. Offensively, he needs to show consistency, and we'll find out if full health is enough to bring that on. If Boston struggles as a team, it could diminish his chances for All-Defensive first team, but he should be in the mix at the guard position, particularly if Rondo gets back on the court and allows Bradley to settle in at the off-ball spot.

With the team in need of increased scoring, Bradley needs to be a double-digit scorer, even if the majority of points comes off cuts and open 3-point looks (though the increased bulk could help him with finishing around the basket). The bottom line for Bradley is consistency and that's the greatest expectation for him this season.

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Summer Forecast: Not easy being Green

August, 27, 2013
8/27/13
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesAfter finishing the 2012-13 season strong, what lies ahead for Jeff Green?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What are your expectations for Jeff Green?

Through the first 5 ½ seasons in the NBA, Jeff Green's per-36 minute stat lines were so staggeringly static, it left many observers wondering if there simply wasn't another level to his game. Then Green found that elusive gear late in the 2013-14 campaign and Celtics fans have spent much of the offseason pondering if he can maintain that sort of production, or whether it was a fleeting glance.

Just how good was Green late last season? Over the final 22 games -- 16 regular-season tilts starting with a monster offensive outburst against Miami and six postseason games against the Knicks -- he averaged a robust 1.039 points per play, according to Synergy Sports data. That's a number that would rank him among the 25 most efficient scorers in the league.

Green showed the potential to be Boston's go-to scoring option with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett on the floor. Now, without that security blanket and the possibility that rehabbing point guard Rajon Rondo won't be ready for the start of the year, Green must prove now he can carry the offensive load without those other weapons around him to relieve some of the pressure.

For his part, Green welcomes the heightened expectations and believes there's yet another level to his game.

"I look at the end of last year as being the point in the season where I think things kind of turned the corner for me," Green said earlier this summer. "I feel like this year is going to be another level that I can take my game to after heart surgery. I’m just taking it one day at a time, just trying to get better. It’s been a long road, as you guys know. I’m looking forward to what’s to come this year and what I can do on the court."

Added Green: "[Last season] kind of set the bar for me and what I can do and what I have do in the future," Green said earlier this summer. "I think I’ve been heavily prepared by Doc [Rivers], right before he left, mentally [prepared] by KG before he left. I think I’m ready for that next step."

Our panel seems split. Many responders believe Green can take another step as the offensive focal point, while others need to see him sustain that production before they buy in. It's fair to assume that Green will be one of the most scrutinized players on the Celtics' roster next season, and his ability to carry the offense will constantly be under the microscope (particularly if Rondo isn't ready at the start of the season).

The projection here? Green will likely have to substitute quality for quantity this season. Without a bunch of All-Stars on the court with him, Green won't have so many open lanes to navigate or clean looks for jumpers. But the Celtics will lean hard on him to produce points and Green will get every opportunity to prove himself as the star scorer.

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Summer Forecast: MVP! MVP!

August, 26, 2013
8/26/13
10:45
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Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesA healthy Rajon Rondo is our panel's favorite for team MVP.
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Who will emerge as team MVP?

Take Rajon Rondo's health out of the equation and this question seems like a bit of a slam dunk. Rondo is the most talented player on this Celtics team and, even in a transition year, it's fair to say that much of Boston's success (whether that's 30 wins or a push for the playoffs) will be dictated by (1) when Rondo is able to play and (2) how well he plays coming back from ACL rehab.

In our panel vote, Rondo received a whopping 65 percent of the MVP vote, while Jeff Green (20 percent) and Jared Sullinger (10 percent) rounded out the top three. Avery Bradley also landed in the voting.

But our panel stressed that if Rondo isn't able to get back on the court early in the season, it would hinder his MVP chances. Clearly, his health is far more important to the team, particularly in the long term. But an extended Rondo absence does make the team MVP race a bit more intriguing. Will Green maintain his success from the end of last season? Can a healthy Sullinger show again that he should have been a lottery pick? With a chance to drive up the value of his next contract, can Avery Bradley (and two healthy shoulders) emerge as a two-way force spearheaded by his game-changing on-ball defense? Might one of the Brooklyn imports like Kris Humphries or Gerald Wallace find themselves rejuvenated in Boston and lead a young team?

The guess here? Rondo is the MVP if he's on the court for at least half the season. Boston's early schedule is brutal and -- even if Rondo is around for it -- the Celtics are likely to endure some serious lumps before Christmas. Rondo might aid his MVP chances just being a spectator as Boston's lack of battle-tested ball-handlers will have fans salivating for his return.

But my MVP vote comes down to this: This is a monster year for Rondo. Gone is the safety net of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce. Rondo must show he can lead this team, utilizing his playmaking abilities to make those around him better, while also increasing his own scoring output and improving his defensive consistency. Pundits are writing off his team and many will diminish their expectations for Rondo himself because of his injury. These are exactly the type of situations that Rondo has thrived upon in the past. With low standards, Rondo has the ability to exceed all expectations for himself and the team by being the team MVP on the court (and off).

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Summer Forecast: Room for improvement

August, 23, 2013
8/23/13
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Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty ImagesWill a crowded frontcourt prevent Brandon Bass from reaching his typical benchmarks?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Who will be the biggest underachiever?

Here's a sign of just how unpredictable the Celtics will be next season: One day after our panel picked 10 different potential overachievers for Boston next season, our prognosticators pegged 12 different potential underachievers. Yep, no one has really any idea what to expect from this team in transition or the players that will comprise the roster.

In voting from our panel, Jeff Green collected a team-high 20 percent of the vote, while Brandon Bass, Jared Sullinger, Courtney Lee, and MarShon Brooks each got 10 percent of the tally for underachiever.

The guess here? Green is the most likely to underachieve. Before the Jeff Green Fan Club jumps to his defense, let's keep in mind one thing here: Very few members of the Celtics have expectations this season, so it's going to be hard for guys to underperform. Even All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo will have the bar set a little lower as he works his way back from ACL surgery.

But Green finished the 2013-14 season strong, thriving in the playoffs against the New York Knicks, and -- fair or not -- some are setting that as the starting point for expectations next season. While a young roster thin on proven talent will give Green the opportunity to thrive and take the next step in his development, there is also a lot of pressure on him to start as strong as he finished.

So the guess here is that our panel isn't necessarily suggesting that Green will underachieve, just that he's the most likely to. A crowded field at the shooting guard and power forward positions will make it tough on others as well, but Green will be under the microscope more than any other player next season.

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Summer Forecast: Exceeds expectations

August, 22, 2013
8/22/13
10:35
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Jim McIsaac/Getty ImagesCan Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries exceed expectations in Boston?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Who will be the biggest overachiever?

For the first time in seven years, expectations will be lowered in Boston, and not just from the team perspective. After trading away two future Hall-of-Famers, Boston has removed its security blanket at each end of the floor and no one quite knows how members of Boston's young core will respond. Even All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo has diminished expectations while returning from ACL surgery.

A whopping 10 players received votes from our panel (including one for Fab Melo, which would have been stricken from the record even before he was dealt to Memphis). Gerald Wallace tops the overachiever vote at 21.1 percent, while Kris Humphries and Courtney Lee each landed at 15.8 percent.

One thing all three of those players have to overcome on the road to overachieving this season is their contracts. More money leads to loftier expectations, even if all three are coming off down years. Humphries will be the highest paid player on the team ($12 million), but that will be overlooked if he returns to the double-double form he showed previously with the Nets (and jacks his trade value up). Lee's contract is less than half of Humphries' ($5.2 million), but Lee plummeted from Doc Rivers' rotation last season and played sparingly in the postseason, a disappointment after Boston believed it had pulled off a summer coup by landing the young guard via offseason sign-and-trade.

The guess here? Both Humphries and Lee will have a chance to overachieve by getting back on track, but it's Wallace that will surprise most observers. Maybe it's simply the fact that he was absent when Boston introduced the players acquired from the Nets last month, but Wallace seems to be an afterthought given how we haven't heard from him this offseason. What's easy to forget after Wallace's forgettable season in Brooklyn last year is that "Crash" is a hard-nosed player who will give premium effort each second he's on the floor and, if his offensive game doesn't rebound, he's still a positive defensive influence.

Remember that Wallace was feisty enough to get under Kevin Garnett's skin last season. You hate that player when he's on the other team, but Boston loves an instigator in green. Wallace, with help from those intangibles, should be Boston's biggest overachiever this season.

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Summer Forecast: Rondo's return

August, 21, 2013
8/21/13
12:35
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Jim Davis/Boston Globe/Getty ImagesWhen will Rajon Rondo be back dishing passes in a Celtics uniform next season?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: When will Rajon Rondo return?

For the purposes of this exercise, we asked our panel when will Rondo return, but it might as well have been when should Rondo return. After all, those are two distinct questions as Rondo and the Celtics set an aggressive opening night timeline for his return and Rondo is insanely motivated to show how fast he can bounce back.

But should he? For a team in transition, and one with an absolutely brutal November schedule that's heavy on back-to-backs, is there any reason to rush Rondo back to the floor?

Our panel doesn't think Rondo will be held down very long. In our poll, 35.3 percent of voters thought Rondo would be on the floor for opening night, while 52.9 percent believe he'll be back before Christmas. Only 11.8 percent believe Rondo will wait until after Christmas to return to action.

But back to that should part. When the Celtics visit the Toronto Raptors on Oct. 30 to open the 2013-14 season, Rondo will be roughly nine months removed from partially tearing his ACL in Atlanta, and a little more than eight months beyond the February surgery to repair the injury.

History tells us that anything less than nine months is still an aggressive timeline and, as Derrick Rose showed last season, there are simply no guarantees on length of recovery. It often revolves around when the player feels comfortable enough to dive back in, and you have to factor in the position Rondo plays.

Beyond the pride of a fast recovery, what's the value in rushing Rondo back if you're the Celtics? Boston plays a whopping 19 games in a 33-day span to start the season, including those six back-to-backs, all of which close on the road. If Boston were hoping for a fast start in order to remain competitive, it makes it a little bit more understandable why they'd accelerate Rondo.

But a team in transition? One with a new coach, new playbook, and a whole lot of new faces. There's little reason to slam the gas pedal. Take this slow, make sure Rondo is OK. Throw him back into the fray whenever it feels right and don't let the calendar dictate that decision.

The biggest hurdle in that: Rondo's pride. We all know that Rondo operates with a chip on his shoulder, and the ability to bounce back faster than most is clearly a goal. But even as soon-to-be captain of this organization, Rondo can lead this team in street clothes while working his way back to the floor.

The guess here? Rondo returns before Christmas. It wouldn't surprise us to see Rondo navigating the final stages of his rehab when training camp opens in late September. But Boston ought to follow the model it used with the likes of Avery Bradley last season (who was coming off double shoulder surgery). The team didn't allow lofty goals or aggressive timelines cause them to rush Bradley and risk re-aggravation (or confidence loss while not playing at 100 percent, which still might have occurred anyway given the lingering aftereffects).

For the Celtics, slower is better with Rondo's return.

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Summer Forecast: Great expectations

August, 20, 2013
8/20/13
11:35
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Fernando Medina/NBAE/Getty ImagesOur panel has set some lofty expectations for Celtics rookie Kelly Olynyk.
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: What are your expectations for Kelly Olynyk?

Boston shuffled up three spots and snagged Olynyk at No. 13 in June's draft. Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge promptly diminished expectations, going out of his way to suggest that he did not view Olynyk as a starter, but more of a complementary role player. What's more, Ainge suggested that 7-foot Olynyk probably couldn't play the center position at the NBA level.

Well, none of the bloggers in our summer panel seem to care what Ainge thinks. One day after Olynyk was pegged the favorite to emerge as the starting center for the Celtics this season, our panel overwhelming voted that Olynyk will earn All-Rookie team honors during the 2013-14 campaign. Given four options for Olynyk's potential contributions next season, a whopping 56.3 percent picked All-Rookie, while another 37.5 percent elected for a Jared Sullinger-like first-year impact (you'll remember Sullinger played big minutes, looked comfortable on the floor, and had ascended to a starter role before a back injury ended his season in February). In fact, only 6.3 percent of respondents picked Olynyk for either of the final two lesser options (Limited impact or D-League).

So much for tempering expectations.

Olynyk showcased some slick offensive skills at summer league and left some Celtics fans breathlessly making Kevin McHale comparisons. Are we putting too much stock in a five-game summer glimpse? Of course. But it's understandable that observers are intrigued by a 7-footer with the offensive repertoire that Olynyk displayed.

So what are more reasonable expectations? The guess here is that Olynyk carves out a consistent role off the bench, getting something like 25-28 minutes per game and seeing his numbers slowly climb as the season progresses (particularly if Boston unclogs the frontcourt with additional moves). If he proves he can carry over that summer success, there's a chance for those minutes to spike, maybe sharing the frontcourt at times with Sullinger (in that pairing, Sullinger is more likely the 5).

Olynyk is so smooth offensively that it's probably not out of the realm of possibility that, on a team that needs scoring, he could be a double-digit scorer by season's end (something that Boston's bench has desperately needed in recent seasons). Go ahead and put him on the McHale path and see if he can emerge as a starter down the road as Boston navigates this rebuilding process. We still have to see if he can play consistent NBA defense and improve his rebounding numbers. He'll get a bit more rope than he might have seen on Doc Rivers' veteran teams.

While this writer won't rule out the All-Rookie squad (the potential lack of competition for those 10 available spots will help his cause), we'll take the Ainge approach and suggest that if Olynyk can show the same sort of comfort level and basketball IQ that Sullinger did in his abbreviated glance last season, then Olynyk will have had an excellent rookie campaign.

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Summer Forecast: Center of attention

August, 19, 2013
8/19/13
10:00
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Rodolfo Molina/Getty ImagesCould Vitor Faverani emerge as starting center in his first season in the NBA?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Who starts at center?

The Celtics have no shortage of big men on their roster. The trouble is that nearly all of them project more at the power forward spot than at NBA center. Fortunately for Boston, the league has been shifting to smaller lineups and there are few dominant centers any more in this league (especially in the East), allowing the Celtics to sort of mix and match at the 4 and 5 spots. This is nothing new after Boston moved Kevin Garnett to center duties in each of the past two seasons.

In our panel vote, rookie Kelly Olynyk landed a team-best 40 percent of the vote to start at center, while Kris Humphries was next at 33.3 percent. Brandon Bass, Vitor Faverani, and Jared Sullinger all landed votes as well, but were distant finishers.

With all the new faces, it's likely that the center position won't be determined until training camp when coach Brad Stevens can mix and match his personnel and get a sense of who fits best together (remember, Stevens puts a high value on lineup combos that work well together). Boston's versatility will allow it to go small at times and put a Jeff Green/Gerald Wallace combo at the 3-4 spots, leaving a need for just one big (in that situation, maybe Humphries makes most sense given his rebounding talents).

While Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has tempered expectations on rookie Olynyk by suggesting that he's pegged as a complementary role player, his scorching summer league debut could eventually help him earn consideration at center in lineups where Bass or Sullinger play the 4. That allows Boston to mask Olynyk's rebounding deficiencies, while also giving them some intriguing options on the offensive end.

And don't count out Faverani, who has center size (6-foot-11, 260 pounds). The question is whether he's ready to handle the physical nature of NBA frontcourts and that will be pretty obvious early in camp or exhibition play.

Olynyk or Faverani may very well ascend to that starting role during the season, but the guess here is that Humphries is the starting center on opening night. You don't pay a player $12 million to sit on the bench. Boston would be well served if Humphries reestablished his value after a down year in Brooklyn, giving the Celtics a potential trade chip later in the season (contenders would be intrigued by a consistent double-double presence if Humphries can regain his form). Obviously, Boston's best interest is to give minutes to the younger players that will comprise its future core (Sullinger, Olynyk, Faverani), but spotlighting Humphries early could help the long-term future as well.

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Summer Forecast: Gone by November

August, 16, 2013
8/16/13
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Gregory Shamus/NBAE via Getty ImagesWill Jordan Crawford still be here when the regular season tips off?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this season's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Which player won't make the opening-day roster?

We couldn't even pose this question before the Celtics (sort of) answered it. Boston traded second-year center Fab Melo to the Memphis Grizzlies on Thursday along with cash considerations to bring back the nonguaranteed contract of Donte Greene. Barring any additional offseason moves, it's likely that Boston will waive Greene and save $1 million in salary, dipping them below the luxury tax line -- something that president of basketball operations Danny Ainge has stressed his team in transition desires to do in order to help avoid looming repeater penalties in future seasons.

The Celtics currently have 14 guaranteed contracts on the roster, but we'll still pose the question as part of our summer series: Who won't be here when the regular season begins?

The guess here? Jordan Crawford. The Celtics cleared a little bit of their frontcourt logjam by dealing away Melo, but there's still a surplus of shooting guards. Crawford became expendable when Boston brought back MarShon Brooks as part of the blockbuster swap with the Brooklyn Nets.

With the uncertainty surrounding Rajon Rondo and his recovery from a torn ACL, there's a line of thinking that Crawford and his passing skills could hold value as a ballhandling guard should Rondo not be ready for the start of the season. But, ultimately, the question is whether Boston sees a long-term future with 24-year-old Crawford (who is due $2.1 million this season and is pegged for a $3.2 million qualifying offer next season). At the moment, it's hard to see where he fits.

Alas, it takes two to tango and Boston needs to find a home for Crawford. Acquired at the trade deadline, Crawford averaged 9.1 points and 2.5 assists over 21.6 minutes per game in 27 appearances for Boston. He appeared in five playoff games, but his most memorable moment might have been barking at Carmelo Anthony after a Game 5 win in New York.

Votes were split among our panelists, with 36.3 percent suggesting that Boston will make no further moves (at least before the start of the season). Crawford was the most popular player predicted to move, garnering 27.2 percent of the vote. Three other players: Brandon Bass, Gerald Wallace and Kris Humphries received at least one vote apiece as well.

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Jim Davis/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesHow will the 2013-14 season end for Rajon Rondo and the Celtics?
Each weekday for a three-week span, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this year's team even hits the floor together for the first time. Today's Celtics Summer Forecast topic: Predicting how the 2013-14 season will end.

In past years, this exercise was reserved for trying to predict how far Boston would march in the postseason. This year? It's a bit redundant with our regular-season record prediction to start the series because most of our prognosticators believe the Celtics will miss the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

In fact, only one member of our summer panel had Boston even sneaking into the playoffs (hey, the East is weak), while the majority pegged the Celtics to land toward the back of the pack in the conference. A couple others believe it's straight to Tankville for Boston, projecting the Celtics to end up with a top pick in next year's draft.

My best guess? The Celtics will be competitive at times next season and finish somewhere in spots 9-12 in the East. There's enough remaining talent in Boston -- particularly in that young nucleus of Rajon Rondo, Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger -- that the Celtics will scrap their way toward 30 wins. But Rondo's uncertainty for the start of the season, a first-year head coach, and a brutal November schedule lead me to believe that this team will endure many of its lumps early, then make some strides later in the year.

The question, of course, is whether it's prudent to gun for as many losses as possible to better Boston's draft standing. There's a notion that, if you're going to lose games, lose a whole bunch of them. But I do believe there's something to be said for finishing the year strong. If Rondo can get healthy, if Brad Stevens can get his feet wet and install his system, and if the Celtics can determine the players who will serve as building blocks, then that might benefit them more than shuffling a pick or two higher if they string together some wins later in the year.

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Summer Forecast: A broken record?

August, 14, 2013
8/14/13
4:45
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Jared Wickerham/Getty ImagesCan a young core keep Boston competitive this season?
The summer doldrums are upon us. Even with all that sunshine outside, August can be the darkest month on the calendar for a hoops fan. With roster construction essentially complete, it's a slow crawl to the start of training camp in late September. Don't fret, we're here to help you get through this.

Each weekday for the next three weeks, our summer panel of prognosticators -- a motley crew featuring our friends in the Celtics blogging community -- will join forces to tell you how the 2013-14 season will play out for Boston. We'll gaze into our crystal balls and attempt to answer all your questions before this year's team even hits the floor together for the first time.

Up first this summer: Predicting the final regular-season record.

Two days ago, ESPN's national summer forecast -- a group of 215 hoops pundits -- projected Boston to finish 12th in the Eastern Conference with a record of 29-53. Too harsh? Too kind? Averaging up the votes received thus far in our ESPN Boston summer forecast, our prognosticators have Boston pegged at 31-51 overall.

We've noted in the past that it's really hard to make a firm prediction on a team when you can barely name the starting 5 (more on that later in the series). While Boston's young core has defiantly shunned the idea that the Celtics will endure their lumps this season or that the team should tank for an even better pick, the green have the looks of a team that could struggle. It's hard enough to win in the NBA, let alone with a point guard coming off ACL surgery or a 36-year-old head coach with no NBA experience or after trading away two Hall of Famers.

My best guess? Let's pencil in a record of 29-53. November looks incredibly daunting and we're just not sure it makes any sense to rush Rondo back for opening night. Boston plays a whopping 18 games in November, including six back-to-backs, all of which close on the road (those second-night stops are in Memphis, Miami, Minnesota, San Antonio, Atlanta, and Milwaukee).

The Celtics will know right away if they have the ability to overachieve. The guess here is that they'll quickly realize that this is a season to develop further continuity with the young core, identify the future building blocks, and learn Brad Stevens' system. But wins won't come easy, or as easy as they used to come (remember back in 2007-08 when Boston's newly minted Big Three had 26 wins before the ball even dropped to usher in the new calendar year?)

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Jared Sullinger
PTS AST STL MIN
14.3 2.2 0.7 28.8
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsJ. Sullinger 8.2
AssistsE. Turner 4.5
StealsM. Smart 1.1
BlocksK. Olynyk 0.7