Celtics' Biggest Needs at 2022 NBA Trade Deadline

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistJanuary 13, 2022

Celtics' Biggest Needs at 2022 NBA Trade Deadline

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    The Boston Celtics underwhelmed in 2020-21 with a .500 record.

    Halfway through the 2021-22 NBA season, they're a game below .500.

    That's not good enough. Forget about the franchise's storied past or recent run of three Eastern Conference Finals in four years. This simply doesn't pass the small test for a squad steered by a pair of All-Star wings (Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown) with a seemingly formidable supporting cast around them.

    The Shamrocks should be better. And with a productive trade season, they could be better.

Offensive Orchestrator

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    Boston's fifth-ranked defense is ready for any postseason test, but its 24th-ranked offense threatens to deny this team a spot at the playoff table.

    Again, things shouldn't be this bad with Tatum and Brown on the roster. Both are pumping in better than 24 points per night, making each a top-20 scorer and collectively being just one of three teammate pairings in that range.

    They aren't just a two-man show either, since there are four other double-digit scorers in the rotation—five if you round up the 9.9 supplied by Robert Williams III.

    The problem is there's too much "your turn, my turn" with this offense. There isn't enough coalescing and making this group stronger together than it would be apart.

    A full-fledged floor general could do the trick. Marcus Smart doesn't pose enough of a threat as a ball-handler or shooter, while Dennis Schroder isn't the most willing passer.

    A player who can ditch defenders off the dribble and looks to involve teammates before dialing his own number might be the piece that gets this offense out of the mud.

Quantity-Plus-Quality Shooting

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    Six different Celtics average at least 27 minutes per game. Only one is shooting better than 33 percent from deep: Brown, at 36.8. Smart is south of 31, Al Horford is below 29 and Williams is 0-of-2 for his career (both heaves, both attempted last season).

    Teams can get away with playing one nonspacer. Two is doable with the right amount of scoring and savvy on the floor.

    But this setup, where almost every key contributor is below average? That's untenable.

    Every offense needs to maximize spacing, and this is no different. Get more shooters on the floor, and suddenly there are wider attack lanes for Tatum, Brown and Schroder, plus a more accessible runway for Williams on the back end of pick-and-rolls.

3rd Star

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    The Celtics are reportedly "open for business," per The Athletic's Shams Charania, but only if the business involves something other than a trade of Brown or Tatum.

    Boston might be spinning its tires for the second consecutive season, but it still can't stomach the idea of pulling the plug. That's the right call to make. Barring some megaswap unfairly tilted their direction, the Celtics wouldn't turn Tatum or Brown into something more valuable than a 25-and-under All-Star wing.

    Everything else should be on the table, though, especially a move bringing a third star to Boston. The Celtics have eyeballed Ben Simmons, as Charania noted, and since do-it-all wings work with any play type, all stars connected to trade talks make some level of sense for the Shamrocks.

    Boston has established talent, up-and-comers, financial flexibility and all of its own first-round picks. Depending on how aggressive president of basketball operations Brad Stevens wants to be in his first official trade season, the Celtics could have the necessary pieces to get a blockbuster done.