The Boston Celtics made a much deeper playoff run then anyone expected during the 2022 season, defeating every team that had beaten them in the playoffs for the past three years; the Kevin Durant–Kyrie Irving Nets, the Jimmy Butler Heat, and Giannis Antetokounmpo‘s Bucks. However, they had two key weaknesses during their playoff run.
One of these weakness was depth at the wing positions. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are amazing players, but like all other humans, they do eventually get tired. After three dogfight series, they were extremely tired (and Tatum may have been injured) in the Finals against Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green and the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, the Js didn’t have any backup wings that could play significant minutes and create offense for the Celtics. In fact, most of the Celtics bench was unplayable in the Finals; the three bench players that actually played were Derrick White, Payton Pritchard, and Grant Williams. Tatum averaged over 40 minutes per game in every series, and Brown averaged around 39 minutes per game.
The Celtics other main weakness was not having a true point guard. This was heavily discussed at the trade deadline, and people speculated about the Celtics bringing in a facilitator and playmaker. While Marcus Smart took over for the team and did a great job leading the Celtics to the Finals and best defensive rating in the entire NBA, there were still some lingering questions about Smart at point guard. Smart is an incredible defender (the 2022 DPOY), and is capable of knocking down threes at a high rate. Unfortunately, Smart can be turnover prone at times, and against other capable defenses, his threes become more heavily contested. I both love and hate that he keeps shooting, because that’s the mark of someone confident in their shot. However, when you have an All-NBA first team selection on your team, get him the ball.
Regardless, the Celtics finally traded for that “real” point guard everyone’s been clamoring for; Malcolm Brogdon. The 2017 Rookie of the Year, Brogdon has averaged 20.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 5.9 assists per game over the past two seasons. Most importantly, he fits very well with this Celtics team. The Celtics are a solid defensive team; they need a playmaker and another guy who can generate offense for this team. That’s Brogdon.
With Brogdon, their starting five will likely be:
That isn’t a team I want to go up against. Williams and Smart are two of the best defenders in the NBA, and the other three guys are capable of averaging 20 points per game. They’ve all become better passers in the past year, and Williams’ ability to block shots has become ridiculously good, even when he’s playing injured.
Plus, it’s not like the Celtics paid a lot to get Brogdon. All they had to do was trade their 2023 first-round pick, Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith, Nik Stauskas, Malik Fitts, and Juwan Morgan. I follow the Celtics very closely, but I’ve never heard of Fitts or Morgan. While five players seems like a lot, only Theis actually received minutes, and only around 10 per game during the Finals. Plus, with the Celtics in the mix for Thomas Bryant, they could get a much younger, better backup center. This was an incredible move for the Celtics, as they gave up no guys with significant playing time to acquire a young point guard who’s reaching his prime. As for the Pacers…
…if they’re trying to tank for a top five draft pick, then just trade Myles Turner at this point. It’s obvious with this kind of return that the Pacers aren’t trying to win now.
Brad Stevens has done a great job so far as GM of the Boston Celtics. Whether he’s as good (or better than) Danny Ainge is a discussion for a few years down the line, but if he keeps pulling off moves like this, then it will definitely be a discussion.
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