Celtics Question of the Day: How many All-Stars will emerge?
Celtics Question of the Day: How many All-Stars will emerge?
From now until the start of NBA training camps, we'll be asking a question about the league and the upcoming season. Today: Who will be the Celtics' All-Stars?
BOSTON – No matter how many points, rebounds, assists or YouTube followers that check out a player’s last how-did-he-do that? dunk or some ankle-breaking cross-over move, individual success in the NBA still comes down to being named an All-Star.
The Celtics have a couple of players honored just last season, although only Isaiah Thomas (and not Al Horford who played for Atlanta) was in Boston last season.
Horford and Thomas will be keys to the Celtics’ likely return to the playoffs for a third consecutive season.
Will they do enough to be named all-stars once again? And if so, will they have any company?
Here’s a look at the Celtics with the best shot at being among the select few to be on the All-Star team.
Crowder is the biggest long shot from this team to be selected, primarily because of how top-heavy the forward position is in the Eastern Conference.
As well as Crowder has played and will continue to for the Celtics, he’s not going to put up the numbers that you will see from All-Star locks Cleveland’s LeBron James, Indiana’s Paul George or New York’s Carmelo Anthony.
Crowder’s best shot at getting in will be to continue improving his scoring, which is something he has done every year he has been in the NBA.
He’ll have to combine that with some hellacious defense that will put him firmly in the conversation as a potential all-NBA Defensive team member.
Showcasing himself as an elite defender could take some of the luster off other potential All-Stars who may not be as defensive-minded and whose stats may not be all that much better than Crowder.
Considering who Crowder is playing with, it’s highly unlikely he’ll be voted in by the fans so doing what impresses the coaches the most, will be the best path for him to take.
As important as it will be to put up really good numbers, Boston winning lots of games might help offset the fact that his numbers may not be as good as some other potential all-stars.
We saw that two years ago with the Atlanta Hawks when they had the best record in the Eastern Conference at the break and were rewarded with a franchise-record four All-Star selections.
An unprecedented start to the season by the Celtics, combined with solid numbers on his part at both ends of the floor, could be just what it takes for Crowder’s name to generate some serious All-Star buzz.
Not a year passes by where someone at some point counts out Avery Bradley, feeling as though the six-year veteran won’t improve.
He doesn’t just get better at shoring up a weakness to his game; he gets better in just about every way manageable, which is why no one should be totally shocked if the 6-foot-2 guard found himself in the conversation this season to make his first all-star team.
The Celtics evolved into a top 10 defense last season, and Bradley’s play was instrumental in that team success.
Most games for Boston began with Bradley guarding the best perimeter scorer, regardless of how much taller he was than Bradley.
After initially being a player who ran the floor and played solid defense, Bradley has developed an all-around game that has the potential to cause major matchup problems for opponents.
Bradley was initially a scorer off of action in which he cut to the basket. Later, he developed a decent corner ball 3-point shot, followed by an improved mid-range game.
His 3-point shooting now extends to other parts of the floor besides the corner.
And when teams play him too close for the 3-point shot, he has shown he can at times put the ball on the floor and score attacking the rim.
Bradley’s game has had the kind of growth that you like to see in a young player, especially one seems poised to be a contender for significant playing time in the very near future.
He’s the lone returning All-Star for the Celtics and there’s a very good chance he’ll be making a second appearance this season.
Thomas is a scoring guard, which is evident by him averaging a career-high 22.2 points per game last season. He can also distribute like he did last season when he averaged 6.2 assists per game, which was just a tenth-of-a-point off from matching his career high in 2014.
The key for Thomas getting a second All-Star nod in as many years, is continuing to be the leader of this team both on and off the floor. The 5-foot-9 guard was all over New England this summer, meeting fans of all ages.
Let’s face it.
Thomas is a hard guy to not like, especially when you think about some of the spontaneous things he does for fans.
But at the end of the day, he’ll be judged by what he does on the basketball court.
And while the additions Boston made this summer may result in him seeing fewer minutes and getting fewer opportunities to score, Thomas is still one of the more underrated high-impact players. The only way to change that is to keep winning games, something he did quite a bit of last season and hopes to continue along those lines beginning with training camp next week.
When you sign a four-year, $113 million max salary contract, as Horford did to come to Boston, it brings about a heightened level of expectations.
Among those expectations is Horford will play like an All-Star this season, and in doing so, move the Celtics one step further along in their journey which is to ultimately compete for an NBA title.
For now, getting out of the first round of the playoffs will be tangible progress for the Celtics.
And you can bet much of the attention on whether that happens, will be thrust on Horford who has been named an Eastern Conference All-Star four times (2010-11, 2015-16) and has been on the short list of possibles in those in-between years.
It will be interesting to watch how Horford’s leadership skills mesh with those of Thomas. Both have shown tremendous skills as leaders in the past, and it should not be an issue going forward. But the two of them are very different players with Thomas’ leadership being a bit more in the public eye, while Horford has been an absolute rock behind the scenes in Atlanta.
Horford has the kind of game that isn’t all that sexy, which is why every time he has been named an All-Star, it was the coaches who voted him in. It’ll be that way if he’s to be named this year.
And when it comes to Horford, coaches have never gotten too caught up in his numbers.
Instead, they focus on his impact on winning, which Horford did a lot of with the Hawks, who advanced to the playoffs each of his nine seasons there.
They didn’t just show up, either.
In the eight playoff series that Horford played in (he missed the 2014 playoffs with a pectoral injury) with Atlanta, the Hawks made it past the first round five times.
Boston has lots of potential All-Stars for sure. But Horford stands head and shoulders above the rest, not only because of what he can do on the floor but because of what his play means towards achieving the ultimate goal, which for most teams and players, is winning.