CSN is looking around the league as we prepare for the 2017-18 NBA season. Today, we break down the Boston Celtics' outlook...
2016-17 record: 53-29, 1st in East
Coach: Brad Stevens
Key additions: PG Kyrie Irving, SF Gordon Hayward, SF Jayson Tatum, SF Marcus Morris
Key losses: PG Isaiah Thomas, SG Avery Bradley, SF Jae Crowder, C Kelly Olynyk
Projected lineup: PG Kyrie Irving, SG Gordon Hayward, SF Jaylen Brown, PF Marcus Morris, C Al Horford
1. Can Irving and Hayward adjust quickly?
No team in the NBA added more talent this offseason than the Boston Celtics, who managed to bring in two All-Stars in Irving and Hayward. Irving should be able to step right in as a prolific scorer and Hayward will bring value on both ends of the floor. But adding two stars of their magnitude will not be easy and could make for an interesting start to the season. Stevens has 11 new players on his roster and has to figure out how to make it work with Irving and Hayward as the centerpieces.
Hayward has the advantage of being familiar with Stevens and his philosophies, having played under him in college. But that was seven years ago. A lot has changed since then. It wouldn't be surprising if either Irving and/or Hayward struggles early on as they adjust to a new team and new system.
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2. How good will Brown and Tatum be?
In addition to Irving and Hayward, the Celtics also brought in Tatum with the third overall pick in this summer's draft. That gives them each of the last two third overall picks and both play the same position. Brown is entering his second year and should benefit from experience. He was solid defensively as a rookie but inconsistent on offense. He has the athleticism and skills to make a major impact this season.
Tatum had a terrific summer league and could develop into an offensive spark off the bench at some point this year. But he will have to adjust to scoring with less touches than he is used to. With so much depth at the wing position, it won't be easy for Tatum to earn a large role early on in his career.
3. Will they be better?
The Celtics gambled a bit this offseason, considering they were the top team in the East based on record, yet they completely overhauled their roster. There's no question they added talent and set themselves up better for the longhaul, but they are a tough team to project in the short-term. Will they click instantly or take some time to adjust, opening the door for other teams in 2016-17?
One important area to consider is defense, as they will almost certainly take a step back having lost Bradley and Crowder. Those guys will be sorely missed against guard-centric teams like the Wizards and Raptors. We know the Celtics will be good again, but how good is not easy to predict and we may not truly know until playoff time.
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