NBA 2018-19 Season Preview: Boston Celtics
Boston Celtics started their rebuild process in 2014, when general manager Danny Ainge traded two of the remaining "Big Three" players who helped win them their last championship.
He worked his magic to trade both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the New Jersey Nets for 2014, 2016 and 2018 first-round picks - which he turned into Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. Last year meanwhile, he traded with the Cleveland Cavaliers for wantaway All-Star point-guard Kyrie Irving.
Celtics' head coach Brad Stevens has impressed, having coached the side to the Playoffs in consecutive seasons.
Celtics effective even without key stars
Even without the aforementioned Kyrie (knee surgery) and Hayward (ankle), who were both sidelined throughout last year, the young Celtics stepped up to the plate and excelled. Al Horford's leadership helped push them all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals, only to lose to LeBron James' Cavaliers.
Since then though, LeBron has moved out to the west Coast and naturally it's made the East a wide open opportunity for teams to develop upon last year's efforts. With all players healthy and a welcome selection headache in the rotation for Stevens to ponder, they're certainly looking like the team to beat.
Tatum, a rookie last season, played like a veteran when needed most for the Boston Celtics. He averaged 18.5 points per game in the Playoffs with an impressive 47.1% FG percentage - displaying his excellent potential and current ability to devastating effect.
Time and time again, the Celtics have proven why they are the most successful NBA franchises. Back where they belong in the conversation for the Championship - thanks to Danny Ainge's patience and Brad Stevens' persistence as head coach. It'll be interesting to see how they develop with the new season only days away now.