Franchises have had enough time to build their rosters ahead of the 2021-22 NBA season, with the Boston Celtics taking full advantage of that to rebuild their roster. In a bid to have a fighting chance in the Eastern Conference and continue their outstanding postseason run, the Celtics have surrounded their core players with elite talent.
Although the Boston Celtics have not been successful in the NBA playoffs in recent years, postseason qualification has given the fans something to cheer about. The last time the Celtics won the championship was in 2008 during the dominant Kevin Garnett era. Since then, the C's have failed to win their 18th NBA championship.
Coming out as champions of the East in the 2022 playoffs will be a tedious challenge. That could especially be the case against a Brooklyn Nets roster that is stacked with world-class players. But the Boston Celtics have built a team that can at least compete. With Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown still on their roster, it would be unwise to completely rule out the C's.
Despite the improvements the Boston Celtics have made during the offseason, it is difficult to see them as championship contenders, though. They have a very young core whose athleticism might pay dividends, but the team lacks the experience needed to win a championship.
Nevertheless, it will be exciting to see how things pan out when the season commences. Tatum will still be expected to lead the team, as he is their best chance of reaching and making a deep run in the playoffs. Given the changes in management and roster, there could be different results and lineups during the 2021-22 season.
On that note, here are the three areas the Boston Celtics improved in the 2021 NBA offseason.
#3 The Boston Celtics traded for Al Horford
The center position was one the Boston Celtics needed to give priority to, and they did just that. Although Tristan Thompson provided aggressiveness in the paint, he is not a stellar two-way big man like Al Horford.
Horford's reunion with the Boston Celtics could undoubtedly provide better results for the C's in terms of protecting the paint and rebounding. Although he is not the most athletic, his high IQ and understanding of the fundamentals could prove beneficial.
With Robert Williams still on the Boston Celtics' roster, the youngster could develop into a dominant center, as he will be privileged to learn under one of the league's premier big men.
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#2 Backcourt depth
The Boston Celtics did not have an elite guard on their roster to replace Kemba Walker off the bench.
Although Payton Pritchard had a decent season, his skill set is not enough for a team like the Celtics that are hoping to be championship contenders. Evan Fournier's addition midway through the 2020-21 season was undoubtedly a boost, but was not sufficient in their championship race.
To address that, the Boston Celtics got Kris Dunn and Dennis Schroder, who came at a huge discount. Schroder is an incredible player, but was not a great fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Dunn, though, has been used in a trade deal to bring in 25-year-old Juancho Hernangomez.
Josh Richardson was another great addition to bolster their backcourt. Although his 3-point shooting has dropped significantly compared to his 46.1% tally in his rookie season, his value is in defense.
The biggest win for the Boston Celtics is perhaps Marcus Smart's contract extension. Smart's contributions are not entirely seen in the box score, which might sometimes be misleading. The Celtics' front office, though, knows how valuable the 27-year-old is, which is why they have reached a deal to keep him on till 2026 for $77 million.
With these additions, the Boston Celtics could keep the intensity at both ends of the court throughout the game. Udoka is putting together some of the best two-way players in the league that will fit into his style.
#3 Change in leadership
Perhaps the most important move for the Boston Celtics in the 2021 offseason was a change in leadership. Brad Stevens was promoted to president of basketball operations, following Danny Ainge's retirement. To fill the vacancy in the head coach position, Ime Udoka was signed as Stevens' replacement.
Although both coaches follow a similar approach to the game - defense-first - Udoka expects the same intensity from players at both ends of the court. It'll be exciting to see how the young Boston Celtics team grows and competes in the NBA as we look forward to the start of the new season.