Boston pulled off a terrific offseason by acquiring Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving and drafting Jayson Tatum, and even following Hayward’s injury, the team was able to play lockdown defense en route to the 1st seed in the East.
Sadly, that kind of performance was unsustainable and several injuries made the C’s slide up in the standings and fall behind Toronto, and they’re just not looking like a team that could pull off the offset and go the distance this season.
The Boston Celtics are on the verge of Championship contention and coach Brad Stevens has proved his ability to make the team better on a yearly basis, but it seems like they’re still lacking a piece or two to go back to their old dominant self. That’s why today, we’re going to let you know about the top 5 players that could really help them next year.
5. Robin Lopez
Being shut down for the year before the league issued a warning against the Bulls for tanking should let you know that this rebuilding squad has no plans whatsoever of retaining Robin Lopez for the future and that they have no use for an aging veteran at this stage of their new project.
Lopez could fit nicely next to Horford or coming off the bench, bringing a lot of hustle on both ends of the hardwood. Obviously, he’s never been an offensive factor, but he’s a solid big man and would be a major improvement for their second unit.
4. Jahlil Okafor
Jahlil Okafor could be a great high risk-high reward pick up for Danny Ainge, and even though he may not see as many minutes as he’d like in order to get his career going once and for all, he could improve a lot on defense under Brad Stevens as well as having the opportunity to play for a Championship contender.
Okafor’s footwork is elite and paired with a rim protector or a physically big man, he could easily be one of the most productive men off the bench in the entire Association. Also, playing against less skilled defenders in the second unit would be perfect for him to get his confidence back, and he’s already proven that he can put a lot of points on the scoreboard.
3. Avery Bradley
Avery Bradley has mightily struggled to play as good as he did in Boston ever since being traded to the Pistons and then the Clippers, and he’s not even looking as the lockdown versatile defender he looked like playing under Brad Stevens’ system the last couple of campaigns.
Boston didn’t want to part ways with Bradley but was kind of forced to deal him to make numbers work and get Hayward, but if he’s willing to take a pay cut, he could go back and play for the team that made him look like a two-way star in the making.
2. Marc Gasol
Marc Gasol looks extremely frustrated now in the tanking Memphis Grizzlies, and he knows he’s getting way too old to be a part of the rebuilding process, so he’s very likely to try and force a move out of the Grizzlies while they can still get something out of him on a trade package.
Boston has been reportedly exploring deals to lure the Spaniard for some time now and they have the kind of assets to pull this move off, and with his defensive expertise and sweet touch from mid and long range, he’d be a prime complement for Al Horford on a FIBA-like kind of frontcourt for the defensive-minded Celtics.
1. Isaiah Thomas
Well, this one could be kind of awkward after Ainge backstabbed him and dealt him to their rivals, but even Thomas himself admitted that “anything could happen” and that he didn’t shut down the possibility of coming back to Boston as an unrestricted free agent this season.
Thomas would have to choose, and he knows it’s either getting paid, being a starter of playing for a contender, and he would be smart to pick the ladder. He already knows Stevens system, and he could be the team’s second unit leader if they let Marcus Smart walk in the offseason, but he’s going to have to leave his ego aside in order to embrace that role. Who knows, he may even get back at the Cavs next to Kyrie if he decides to come back.