Yesterday, we looked back over the saddest times for the Celtics. Now it's time for some green koolaid. There are things that are positive about the Celtics. Let's take a look at the top 10 things to be excited about this season.
1. Al Jefferson. Al is the Celtics' best low post scorer since Kevin McHale walked through that door. He averaged 16 ppg and 11 rpg last season and has emerged as a legitimate go to guy. And he is just beginning to scratch the surface of his talent. Al is going to be even better this season and that is something to be excited about.
2. Paul Pierce. Pierce is loved by some and hated by some, but there is no question that he is an all star talent and makes a difference on this team. After being very durable over his first eight seasons, he proved to be human and missed 35 games last season. Pierce is a very proud player and I can see him working harder than ever on his body and conditioning and coming back better than ever this season.
3. Ray Allen. The trade for Allen has met with mixed emotions from Celtics fans but it was a positive move. Ray Allen is one of the top offensive talents in the league. Last season he averaged 26 mpg, 4.5 rpg and 4.1 apg while playing 40 minutes per game. He is in great shape and there is no reason why he can't have another dominant season. The trio of Pierce, Allen and Jefferson will be one of the most lethal in the league. I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
4. Rajon Rondo. Rondo has what it takes to run a team and is a very exciting point guard. He has all the tools to be a very, very good point guard. The only knock on him was that he couldn't hit the midrange shot to keep defenses honest. Summer League showed that he has been working on his shot and he can hit it when he needs to. His shot looks good and he was able to hit when left open. He still remains a pass first point guard, able to drive and dish to the open man and that could be very exciting this season with Pierce, Allen and Al waiting to receive those passes.
5. Kendrick Perkins. Perk is poised to break out this season. At the end of last season, he was playing great defense and was able to shut down both Dwight Howard and Chris Bosh. He is a very hard worker and is working harder than anyone this off season to improve. A full summer of working with Clifford Ray (his first of doing so) should pay big dividends this season. Perk is going to surprise a lot of people this season.
6. Chemistry. This team has been building great chemistry over the past 3 seasons. We have some great kids with good character and they all get along both on and off the court. Chemistry is an important and often underrated quality of championship teams. This chemistry should pay off on the court as the players have gotten to know each others' games and tendencies.
7. Tony Allen. Tony has been working very hard on his rehab and should be ready for training camp. Tony was just starting to hit his stride last season when he went down with the injury. If he can get back to where he was last season, this would be a huge boost to have a player of his caliber coming off the bench. He gives us a defensive presence as well as an explosive offensive player.
8. Leon Powe. Leon proved in Summer League that he "gets it." He plays with heart and energy every time out on the court. He will be a good back up for Al Jefferson and can provide us with rebounding and defense along with an offensive touch around the basket. His intensity and work ethic are an example to the rest of the team.
9. The Rookies. Big Baby, Pruitt and Wallace all showed that they can play. It will be exciting to watch them develop and contribute to the team as they learn the pro game. Wallace is especially exciting as he is a long defender and can shut down the threes that we haven't been able to guard in the past. Big Baby is going to be a force in the middle and with his desire and work ethic will be able to contribute this season, not to mention all the entertaining interviews he will give.
10. No Excuses. The fact that there are no more excuses left for Doc to lean on. If he doesn't produce now, Danny will have no choice but to fire him and bring in a coach who will produce. If Doc can do it, great. If not, we will have a coach who can. Either way, there are no more excuses for Doc to hide behind. I like Doc. The players like Doc, but if he can't produce as a coach, he needs to be replaced.
Honorable Mention: Theo Ratliff. Theo is going to be valuable one way or another. Either he will be healthy and give us that back up center that we need or his contract will be valuable to bring back another good player for the team.
These are exciting times. I haven't even mentioned the moves that Danny has up his sleeve to improve the team even more (hopefully without giving up Rondo or Al. And the improved defense we saw in Summer League will hopefully continue and be even better by the start of the season. Then too, there is training camp in Europe and the additional TV coverage that will bring and with Ray Allen here, we should get more media attention than we did last season. So, grab a glass of koolaid and enjoy.