Celtics

Celtics

BOSTON – The Bay Area has every reason to be giddy with Stephen Curry being named this year’s league MVP. 

For a fan base that has been among the best in the NBA even when the Golden State Warriors were horrible, their patience has been rewarded.

But as much as the Warriors brass should be praised for the job they have done cultivating their own lottery picks, a big part of the Warriors’ success has been what they’ve been to do via trades and free agency. 

Andrew Bogut is a former No. 1 overall pick by the Milwaukee Bucks (2005) and was a good but not great player for them. 

He gets traded to Golden State in the middle of the 2012 season and year and a half later, he establishes himself as the best defensive center in the NBA. 

When you look closer to home at the Boston Celtics, they too seem to be operating from a similar playbook. 

Their ascension into the playoffs this year was also aided by a highly-regarded draft pick, Evan Turner, that didn't work out elsewhere. 

Turner, a former No. 2 overall pick by Philadelphia in 2010, has never looked more comfortable in the NBA than he did this past season with the Celtics who signed him to a two-year, $6.7 million deal this past summer when he was a free agent.

Although his numbers near the end of his time in Philadelphia were impressive due to him taking a higher volume of shots, the Sixers weren’t a very good team. 

 

And with a reduced role after being traded to Indiana, Turner was seen by some as a player who couldn’t help a playoff team. 

With the Celtics, he became more of a facilitator, playing more off the skills that made him such a highly-regarded prospect coming out of Ohio State. 

And it worked both for him and the Celtics who became a playoff squad in part because of his play. 

But now comes the challenge for Boston of taking their success to the next level. 

Looking at the Warriors’ rise to elite status, one of the most important moves they made came in July of 2013 when they signed then-free agent Andre Iguodala to a four-year, $48 million deal as part of a sign-and-trade from Denver. 

A standout in Philadelphia, Iguodala gave the Warriors a much-needed presence defensively as well as a good finisher in transition. 

Like the Celtics now, the Warriors back then had plenty of needs and the addition of Iguodala met one of the more important ones in establishing a team identity that was about more than scoring points but rather, getting stops defensively. 

In some form or another, Boston has to address their interior defense whether it’s banking on one of their young bigs (Kelly Olynyk or Jared Sullinger) continuing to improve in that particular area, or going out and signing a rim-protector this summer. 

And unlike past years, the Celtics will have the financial flexibility to go out and sign players with what should be more than $20 million in salary cap space. 

But with most teams, success often comes down to drafting a player who outperforms their draft position. 

You look at the Warriors’ roster and it’s full of players who have done just that.

Klay Thompson. 

Draymond Green.

Harrison Barnes. 

And of course, newly crowned league MVP Stephen Curry along with his aforementioned teammates have all outplayed most of the players selected ahead of them in their respective draft classes. 

It’s too soon to say if that’s the case with Boston’s young players, although rookie Marcus Smart has shown the kind of promise and growth that more than justifies why Boston chose him with the sixth-overall pick in last June’s NBA draft. 

Smart is going to be in Boston most of the summer and will spend a considerable amount of time working with Celtics assistant coach Darren Erman, a former Golden State assistant who has been credited with helping Klay Thompson develop into one of the league’s best two-way players after coming into the league as a shoot-first, defensively-challenged swingman. 

The Warriors will enjoy their time in the sun with Curry as the league’s MVP, just six years after selecting him with the seventh overall pick when Minnesota – owners of the No. 5 and 6 pick – passed Curry over for Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn (who is not even in the NBA now).

 

And there are plenty of other players drafted by the Warriors that have panned out. 

But their ability to mesh good drafts with strong free agent signings and trades, is why they’re so good – the kind of blueprint all NBA teams, Celtics included, would be wise to follow.