Jeff Green, Rajon Rondo & Draft Picks Must Lead Boston Celtics in 2013
In 2012, the Boston Celtics were the fourth oldest team in the NBA. In 2013, one of the eldest players on the team is gone, and an infusion of youth is on the rise. Heading that group will be the man whom the Celtics traded fan favorite Kendrick Perkins to acquire: Jeff Green.
Green has reportedly signed a four-year deal worth $36 million. If this report holds true, consider the pressure elevated.
Michael McAnn of Sports Illustrated put it best:
Legendary David Falk still has it. Gets Jeff Green, coming off lost season from heart surgery & uninspiring play in 10-11, 4-yr, $36 m deal.— Michael McCann (@McCannSportsLaw) July 8, 2012
Regardless of the questionable deal, Green is key to the Celtics' success.
As the 2013 season rolls around, the aging legs of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will certainly play a major role in the Celtics' success or failure. Garnett can still score, but he will focus his attention on the defensive end while Pierce takes on the lead scoring role for the umpteenth season.
For the best possible results, however, the youth movement must take center stage.
Jeff Green is a versatile forward whose passing skills alone make him a player who needs the ball in his hands. While his recovery from offseason heart surgery is in question, his abilities should not be. He will spread the floor, facilitate teammates and move well on the interior to create open looks for himself.
How many minutes should Jeff Green see in 2013?
Jared Sullinger, meanwhile, has been called "Brandon Bass lite." While Bass is a talented player whose point-per-game average would likely be higher in a different system, Sullinger is actually a far more polished low-post player. He can score over both shoulders and has one of the best baby hooks in the NBA.
After all, which players value talent over athletic ability nowadays?
The key to the youth movement, however, is the most unpolished player on the roster: Fab Melo out of Syracuse.
Melo is an incredible athlete whose mere size and presence in the paint will offer the Celtics something they haven't had since Kendrick Perkins' departure. The difference is, Melo can run the floor and is the far superior athlete.
While Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce will contribute in their stellar ways, the youth must take the initiative in 2013. Avery Bradley must continue to bring energy and efficiency until Jason Terry comes in off of the bench for his touch from distance.
And then there's Rajon Rondo.
Rondo was masterful in the 2012 NBA playoffs, putting together the best scoring stretches of his career. This included a 44-point outing against the Miami Heat which fell short of victory due to Paul Pierce's foul trouble and the inability of the aging legs to contribute.
Hence the necessity of the youth to step up.
While the youth may carry this team along, Rajon Rondo is clearly the leader. He's one of, if not the best, point guards in the NBA. He's the game's best facilitator and, when on his game, one of the most unstoppable scorers. The question is, will he find consistency in the scoring department?
For the first time in his career, he must. Along with that rise in attention to scoring detail, Doc Rivers must trust his rookies to be worth their pick and offer them time to prove themselves.
No matter how you cut it, the Celtics will only go as far as their young players carry them. An unquestioned disadvantage on the athleticism and stamina fronts will counter any argument you may present.
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