5 Changes Boston Celtics Must Make During 2014 NBA Offseason
With the losses piling up and the eyes of fans shifting over the draft board, the Boston Celtics clearly need to make plenty of changes from their 2013-14 season.
The Celtics are still a ways away from vaulting back into the championship conversation, but in the meantime there are plenty of changes that can be made.
Even the return of Rajon Rondo has not been able to mask some of Boston’s most glaring weaknesses.
From dealing current players to succeeding in the draft, let’s look at five things big changes the Celtics need to make once the 2014 offseason rolls around.
Acquire a Pure Rebounder
After years of perennially being one of the worst rebounding teams in the league, the Celtics have actually been solid on the glass.
While some of that is due to players like Jared Sullinger and Kris Humphries proving tenacious on the glass, it is primarily due to Brad Stevens’ system.
When Doc Rivers was the head coach, he always stressed hustling back on defense versus scrapping for rebounds, and the team’s jump-shooting identity gave them even less opportunities.
The 2013-14 Celtics have been forced to attack the glass more, but they still need another elite rebounder.
That could be a superstar like Kevin Love, or a 15-minutes-per-game role player like Reggie Evans, but there has to be someone capable of grabbing six rebounds in a quarter on the C’s roster.
We’ll talk later about the futures of Humphries and Brandon Bass, but it’s unlikely both are back in green in 2014-15.
If cap space is something Boston is serious about conserving, they could opt for players like DeJuan Blair (5.3 boards in 17.6 minutes), Andray Blatche (5.7 boards in 22.1 minutes) or Lavoy Allen (5.4 boards in 18.6 minutes).
All three of them have proved to be game rebounders in short bursts and wouldn’t put much of a burden on the C’s long-term finances.
Cut Ties with a Veteran Power Forward
Obviously Sully has cemented himself as Boston’s power forward of the future, but beyond him there are some serious questions.
Bass and Humphries are among the highest paid players on the Celts, but neither of them really have futures with the team.
Humphries will be an unrestricted free agent in the 2014 offseason, and Bass, with one year left on his deal, fits much better with a contender.
Additionally, the C’s will also likely be picking right in the range of the draft’s best frontcourt players.
NBADraft.net currently has Boston taking Julius Randle fourth overall, but they could very well opt for someone like Noah Vonleh or Aaron Gordon with their second first-round pick.
Sully has been better at the 4 (25.3 PER), than at the 5 (17.1 PER), according to 82games, but as he continues to develop his post game, he could certainly become more of a threat at center.
Bass, who is averaging 11.2 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.1 assists on 47.5 percent shooting, will likely have some value on the trade market.
He won’t bring home a first-rounder, but the C’s could potentially net a nice young asset for the gritty forward.
Boston needs a true center, someone who can block shots and grab boards in bulk, not another scrappy, undersized 4.
To put it simply, the C’s have enough other needs right now where cutting ties with one of their power forwards is the most logical move.
Shift the Offense Away from Jeff Green
We’ve officially seen 60-plus games of an offense built around Green, and it’s pretty safe to say that it leads to nothing but lottery balls.
Green has been better with Rondo back, averaging 23 points over his last five games, but even in that stretch he is shooting just 41.1 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from deep.
On the year, Green is averaging a respectable 17 points per game but just 4.9 rebounds and 1.6 dimes.
His shooting splits also leave something to be desired, as he is connecting on only 41.5 percent of his overall shots and 35.3 percent of his threes.
Obviously there was no way Green could shoot the ball as well as he did at the end of 2013-14, but to see him relying so heavily on his jumper is disheartening.
Green averaged 20.3 points, 5.3 boards and 2.3 assists while shooting 43.5 percent overall and 45.5 percent from three against the New York Knicks in the playoffs, and there was hope that that Jeff Green would emerge with Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett gone.
Unfortunately, that has not been the case, as having the ball in his hands has not done much to improve Green’s offense.
He is shooting just 37.9 percent on isolations, 29.3 percent as the pick-and-roll ball-handler and 39.2 percent on spot-up jumpers, per Synergy Sports (subscription required).
Despite working more as a secondary ball-handler pushing the pace on the fast break, Green has not been able to consistently make the right pass.
He has been slightly more effective as a power forward (17.2 PER) than as a small forward (13.7 PER), but he has been ghastly defending 4s, per 82games—opposing power forwards are posting a PER of 21.8 against Green.
At 27 years old, it’s pretty clear that Green has reached his ceiling as a player.
He’s an excellent third option and can be a good second banana if his jumper is falling, but he is not supposed to be taking more than 14 shots per game.
The C’s don’t necessarily need to trade Green, but they must draft a scorer or transition the offense to be built more around Rondo’s scoring than playmaking going forward.
Part of the goal for 2013-14 was to find out if Green could be a franchise cornerstone, and we appear to have a definite answer on that: No.
Sign Some Cheap Outside Shooting
The league is clearly becoming more three-pointer happy than ever, but the Celts simply don’t have the personnel right now to capitalize.
The C’s have players like Jerryd Bayless and Avery Bradley who can hit threes occasionally, but they lack a 40-plus percent threat from the corners.
Chris Johnson is shooting 40 percent from deep overall, but he has struggled recently (22.2 percent in his last five games).
The fact that Rondo is shooting a career-best 36.4 percent from three is huge for Boston and will only make him a tougher cover, but the Celtics need someone they can run around screens and use to get teammates open.
Rondo is so ball-dominant that most of his threes come from above the break at the ends of possessions.
If Sully and Kelly Olynyk can develop into league average three-point shooters, that would be tremendous, but it seems a ways away, particularly in Sullinger’s case.
Generally, shooters are pretty easy to find in free agency, and with players like Jodie Meeks, Jimmer Fredette and Mo Williams all being potentially available, the C’s could easily find some help from outside without breaking the bank.
The three is only going to become a bigger part of NBA offenses, and that means the Celtics need to get more consistent volume shooters for 2014-15.
Draft a Wing Scorer
With Green floundering as the leading scorer, it has become clear that Boston needs another wing player who can go for 20-plus every night.
Luckily, there are a handful of those players available in the draft, provided the Celtics are picking in the right spot.
The Celts have the league’s fourth-worst record, giving them a real shot at winning the lottery or at least securing a top-three talent.
With that, Boston could select a player like Duke’s Jabari Parker or Kansas’ Andrew Wiggins.
Both still have some polishing they need to do—Parker defensively and Wiggins with his aggressivenessbut they are tremendous players who could come in and help from day one.
Parker, who might be best suited as a small-ball 4 in the NBA, would be able to give Boston more consistency from outside and also another player that can create his own shot.
Wiggins could be a lethal cutter off the ball, and his natural athleticism makes him a nightmare in transition.
The C’s could also use their later pick, either from the Atlanta Hawks or Brooklyn Nets, and draft someone like UCLA’s Kyle Anderson, Kentucky’s James Young or even North Carolina State’s T.J. Warren, who is averaging 24.2 points per game on 52.8 percent shooting.
Obviously getting the best player available is key, but given Boston’s lack of punch on the wings the important thing is simply to get anyone who can score consistently and in a variety of ways.