I am officially a koolaid drinker and ever the optimist. I admit it. I love this team and see good things happening next year. I really would like to see this team stay together for the most part. Yes, we are currently are 18 and 44 for the year. Yes, I know that this team is young and very inconsistent still. But I see seeds of something special developing on this team in spite of all the injuries and in spite of all the losses. I am definitely not in the tank for ping pong balls camp. The chemistry and confidence that the team is building by winning is worth it.
I have said it many times but chemistry is often underrated in building a team. The 2003/04 Lakers are poster children for why chemistry is important. They assembled a roster full of stars that on paper should have dominated the league. Shaq, Kobe, Payton, Malone, and Grant along with a Hall of Fame coach. They should have dominated, but they didn't because they couldn't build any chemistry and they dissolved into bickering and infighting as the season wore on. On the other side, there are the Spurs, Pistons, and Mavericks who have built rosters that have great chemistry and they have kept them together for several years and all three teams have dominated. The Celtics have built great chemistry on this team. The players all get along on and off the court and the more they play together, the more they will get to know each other's tendencies on the court.
Just as Al took a huge leap forward in his development this season, I expect more of our young players to do the same next season. We have players who are among the hardest workers in the league. Perk, Powe, Al, West, Allen, Rondo, Telfair, Green, Gomes all spend extra hours in the gym working on their games. They are all willing to do whatever it takes to improve. The majority of them will work together this summer just as they did last summer to improve individually and as a team and every one of them will come back much improved in areas they had problems this season. They just work too hard not to.
So far, Danny has kept this group together in spite of saying that he has been trying to trade for a veteran. I feel that this is a good move and we have seen these kids developing before our eyes. Every night one of them will step up and have a great game. The problem is that they haven't been consistent. But that will come with experience as they build their confidence. After the Bulls game, Dickerson said twice that he didn't know how long Powe would be a Celtic. I sure hope they keep this kid because I truly believe he is going to be special. He has impressed every time he has gotten into a game and with a summer working with Clifford Ray, I see him making a huge leap forward. If we had a better coach who had a clue how to use bigs in a game, I think he would be seeing regular time and making an even bigger impression.
I am not banking on getting a top 2 pick. The lottery is too fickle. The team with the worst record rarely gets the #1 pick. The team with the second worst record gets it even fewer times. Having Oden or Durant would be nice to add to this group, but we should be fine even if we don't get the first or second pick. We can get a player who can help with the 3rd or 4th pick, either by picking one of the other strong big men coming into the draft, or trading it for veteran help.
There is a cloud hanging over this team though and that is in the coaching area. I really hope we keep Clifford Ray forever. The guy is amazing in the way that he develops bigs. But other than Ray, I have big doubts about the abilities of our coaching staff. I have tried to look at both sides of the Doc Rivers debate and even posted an article from Eja as to why he should stay. But I don't think this team will reach their potential with Doc at the helm. We are hearing Doc say that he is working on stuff for next year and talking about working on an extension over the summer. If Isaiah can get an extension, it is entirely possible that Doc could get one and that really worries me because I just feel that this team would do much better with a different coach. We need a coach who is defensive minded but yet can coach a fast break team.
With another summer of work from our young players, a high draft pick, and hopefully a new coach, I honestly feel that this team will surprise a lot of people next season. The '78-79 Celtics won 29 games. The 79-80 Celtics won 61 games. Granted they added a rookie named Larry Bird who was a one of a kind player. But if our players stay healthy and we see improvement from all our players along with a high draft pick and a new coach, this team could make just as dramatic a change. We have so much talent but it just needs to mature and several players are poised to make that leap next season. I, for one, am optimistic that it will happen.