We are a quarter of the way through the season and it looks as if the Boston Celtics are the complete opposite of what we all thought. Now, there is certainly time for them to turn it around and make a deep run, but if the playoffs started today, I do not think anyone would be holding their breath about his team. After watching almost every game, I think Boston's issues are pretty clear.
The starting five simply lacks chemistry because they play "hero ball." If you take a look at the starting five for the Boston Celtics, they are actually all very similar players. Gordon Hayward (the former starter), Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum, and even Al Horford are well-above average shooters at their position. While Jaylen Brown is not as good of a shooter, he thinks he is and stays out at the three-point line, chucking up shots. If you have five players that all do the same thing pretty well, there is no diversity to your team. I know that we are living in the age of positionless basketball, and call me old school, but I think that teams need a traditional big man down low. Perhaps Brad Stevens agrees with me, as he switched up the starting five to put Aron Baynes at center. However, even Baynes is out at the three-point line. I realize that making three out of ten three-pointers is better than making four out of ten two-pointers, but the Celtics simply aren't getting shots to fall.
If you take a look at Boston's schedule, it was not necessarily the easiest way to come out of the gate. They started 13 of their 21 games on the road with a West Coast road trip mixed in there. This is not an excuse because they have played poorly, but they also should have been expected to start a little slow.
So what should the Celtics do in order to reclaim their standing as the best team in the Eastern Conference?
The short answer? I have no idea. Would the Celtics be willing to essentially stand pat this season in order to keep their assets through the Trade Deadline and make a run at Anthony Davis this offseason? Will the Celtics trade Kyrie Irving (GASP) in a deal for Anthony Davis to ensure that they can land him now over a team like the Lakers? Remember, the Celtics cannot have both Irving and Davis on their team this season until Kyrie signs his extension due to the Rose Rule. Will the Celtics look at other, lesser players that fit a certain role to help the chemistry? Or will they do absolutely nothing at all?
Lets start from the top. In my opinion, I do not think the Celtics should trade Irving. I know, what a scorching hot take. If they trade Irving for Davis, even if it is a direct swap, then they really aren't getting that much better. Sure, you're netting a better player, perhaps only marginally, but the Celtics would be dumping their best player after one season after he has already verbally agreed to an extension. Thats not a good look in making Boston a marquee free agent destination.
So, at this point, I say the Celtics just need to tough it out. They need to trust in Brad Stevens to get the job done and figure out whatever is wrong with this team. If it is as simple as chemistry, then this is something that is on the players. Irving, Hayward, Horford, Marcus Smart, Marcus Morris or any one of the plethora of leaders that the Celtics have on this team needs to take everyone aside and get them all to buy in.
Now this is just a theory, but I do think the early problems start and stops with Tatum and Brown. They are two young guys that think they are already the second coming of Michael Jordan. Brown has infamously said he is going to win The Finals for the next six straight seasons, and Tatum is throwing up shots like he is Kobe Bryant who, conveniently enough, is one of his close mentors. At this point in time, I think it would be a huge mistake to trade Tatum. He has the ability of a top five player in the NBA if he continues to progress. But Brown? He can go. Don't let the door hit you on the way out. I do not like the way that he has conducted himself this season and believe that he still has some value in the league. Could a deal centered around Brown and draft picks land the Celtics a player of Davis' caliber in the offseason?
Lets do a little recap, shall we? No, the Celtics shouldn't simply blow it up or make a huge trade in order to drastically change this team. They still have the pieces to hypothetically get any player they want in the NBA, within reason. The biggest available superstar right now is Davis. If the Pelicans decide to trade Davis at the Trade Deadline, then the Celtics will have to have some internal discussions about Irving. However, at this point, I think Danny Ainge and company need to put all their eggs in Stevens' basket and hope for the best. This team is too talented to be a .500 ball club. And no, I don't believe there is such a thing as having "too much talent."