The Celtics are one of the hottest teams in the NBA right now. In fact, since December 16, the Boston Celtics are tied with the Houston Rockets at 10-2 for the best record in the NBA. In contrast, the Cleveland Cavaliers and San Antonio Spurs are 9-2, while the Golden State Warriors are 8-2.
So, does this mean we can now consider the Boston Celtics as one of the elite teams in the NBA?
Not so fast. Sure, the Celtics are playing at a high level right now, but look at the level of competition. The Celtics' last two opponents, the Philadelphia 76ers and New Orleans Pelicans, have a combined 22 wins, which is one less than the Celtics right now.
Furthermore, the Celtics are getting killed down below and on the glass, as Joel Embiid and Anthony Davis put a number on this team in back-to-back games.
Here is my guide on how the Celtics should approach the rest of this season and the offseason to become an elite team once again.
1. Keep This Year's Brooklyn Pick
I know, this sounds crazy. But after yesterday's matchup between the Philadelphia 76ers and the Brooklyn Nets, the Celtics via our good friends from Brooklyn currently have the best odds to land the #1 overall pick by a full two games. Sure, there is a ton of uncertainty in every draft and this year in particular there is a heavy-dose of high-end guard talent, which the Celtics are full of. However, it does not look like the Celtics are going to be able to land a superstar. I know it sucks, but no star is signing in Boston via free agency, nor does it seem like Danny Ainge can make a trade for DeMarcus Cousins, Paul George, or anyone else. Keep the pick and pray the player develops into a star.
2. Be Very Open To Trading Next Year's (2018) Pick
I know this may be hypocritical because of what I just wrote, but I am mentally exhausted from having to watch this much college basketball. While this year's pick may hold more value, it looks as if the Brooklyn Nets are going to continue to suck, so it should still hold some significant value. Which brings me to my next point...
3. Make A Big Trade
I don't care if you aren't screwing the other team in typical Danny Ainge fashion; make a big trade like you have been promising for the past three years. Truthfully, I don't even care who the name is. Trade the Brooklyn pick so we can finally be done with it for a big man down low that can replace Amir Johnson, Tyler Zeller and Kelly Olynyk.
4. Either Trade For Jimmy Butler Or Let The Dream Go
Jimmy Butler has turned into one of the better guards in the entire NBA this season. He has developed the ability to create his own shot and score, while also playing first-team all-defense. According to Bleacher Report, with the mediocrity that is the Chicago Bulls, Jimmy Butler has again become available and the Celtics are reportedly interested. We have been hearing these rumors for the better part of a year. If he is available and you can get him without giving up both Brooklyn picks, pull the trigger.
5. Sign Nerlens Noel and Gordon Hayward
For the first time in forever, two significant players slated to become free agents want to come to Boston. Sure, Jae Crowder had that scrap with the Boston fans and Hayward, but if he can help this team Noel would obviously help on the glass, as we saw him dominate his hometown team down low on Friday night. While Amir Johnson has been playing solid basketball, I believe Nerlens Noel is a legit starting center in the NBA and could help this team immensely. Similarly, Gordon Hayward has expressed his interest in signing with the Celtics to re-join his former head coach at Butler in Brad Stevens. While Hayward is not Butler, he is much, much, better than Jae Crowder or almost anyone else on this team not named Isaiah Thomas. Get it done, Danny.
So, to wrap it all up, here is my dream starting five next season...
1. Isaiah Thomas
2. Gordon Hayward
3. Jimmy Butler
4. Al Horford
5. Nerlens Noel
6th Man: Whoever you pick with the #1 overall pick
Not bad, right?