Team Name: The World Champion Boston Celtics (I never get tired of saying that)
Last Years Record: 66-16
Key Losses: James Posey, PJ Brown
Key Additions: JR Giddens, Bill Walker, Patrick O'Bryant, Darius Miles
1. What significant moves were made during the offseason? The Celtics didn't make any significant moves this offseason, but instead made several smaller moves that could pay dividends. First, they got JR Giddens and Bill Walker in the draft. Both could be ready to contribute this season. Giddens is a great athlete with a 40" vertical leap, long arms and a strong physique. If it wasn't for character Issues that plagued him early in his college career, he would never have slipped to the Celtics at #30. By all indications, his has grown out of the character issues and should be a solid pro.
The Celtics were able to get Bill Walker from the Wizards on draft night with the 47th pick. He slipped in the draft, not because of a lack of ability, but because he has a history of knee injuries and was injured during the workouts leading up to the draft. He had surgery in Boston right after the draft and has been working out at the Celtics practice facility all summer. At first the plan was to stash Walker in Europe for a year but his workouts this summer have impressed Danny enough that they feel he can help the club this season. He brings toughness and aggressiveness and is versatile as he can play either the wing or post. Like Giddens, he has a strong physique and great leaping skills. He is a great slasher and can break down his man off the dribble but also has 3 point range on his shot. Early reports are that he has no problems with his knee and is looking good in camp.
The Celtics also added a big man to back up Perk when they signed Patrick O'Bryant, a 7'0" center who came into the league with a lot of potential and expectations as the 9th pick in the draft but was a disappointment in his two seasons with the Warriors. In all fairness, Nelly's system didn't play to O'Bryant's strengths and when he spent time in the D-League he played fairly well. With a summer to work with Clifford Ray and Robert Parish, he may surprise a lot of people. With Perk having to take it easy in camp, O'Bryant should see extended minutes in camp and the preseason and hopefully will benefit from them.
One of the low risk, high reward signings of the summer was Danny's signing of Darius Miles to a non guaranteed make good contract. Miles is trying to become the first player ever to come back from an injury that was deemed career ending by the doctors. It appears as though he is well on his way to doing just that as he impressed Danny in workouts enough to sign him. Ray Allen has said that he was impressed with Miles so far and feels that he will be a fan favorite. Paul Pierce also was very positive about Miles' workouts so far. KG also said that he has been impressed with Miles. Doc has praised his instincts and feel for the game and all attitude problems that may have been in his past seem to be just that, in the past. If he can get to anywhere near his pre-injury shape, he will be able to help the Celtics this season and will go a long way toward replacing the departed James Posey.
2. What are the team's biggest strengths? The biggest strengths this season will be the same as last season: Defense and unselfish play. Tom Thibodeau who crafted the best defense in the league for the Celtics last season will be back to work his defensive magic again this season. The team had incredible chemistry last season and it should be even better this season as the core of the team returns. The starters all know their roles and should easily gel in training camp. The young players who were question marks last season are going to be better this season as they are now playoff tested. We can expect ubuntu to be in full force again this season and with the unselfish play and chemistry that the concept of ubuntu engenders, the team should be even stronger this season. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce will also be motivated to become the first Celtics team to repeat since the 1968-69 season. Players will be even more set in their roles and be able to work Doc's offense and Thibodeau's defense even that much better. 3. What are the team's biggest weaknesses? This team doesn't have any glaring weaknesses other than the age of its stars and possibly depth at the center position. Last season there were questions about the point guard spot, but Rajon Rondo showed us that he is quite capable of being the starting point guard on a championship team and Eddie House answered the questions at the back up in spite of being put on the shelf for a part of the playoffs in favor of Sam Cassell. This season, Gabe Pruitt is expected to be able to contribute at the point and Sam Cassell is back for insurance. The age of the three stars was questioned last season and we all saw how that came out. Ray Allen says he is 100% healthy, which he admits wasn't the case last season, and both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett keep themselves in incredible shape so hopefully age won't be a problem again this season. The depth at center position is a concern in that Patrick O'Bryant is unproven and Big Baby Davis and Leon Powe who also spend time at the center position are undersized, although both seem to be able to hold their own in most cases.
4. What are the goals for this team? The goal is obviously to repeat as champions. Nothing less will be considered a success. They may not be as dominant in the regular season this year because a lot of teams have improved with the goal of beating the Celtics. And everyone will be gunning for the champions and seeking to unseat them. But, I believe it will all come together in the playoffs and that they will meet their goal to repeat as champions.
5. Questions going into Camp? There are questions going into camp just as there were last season. Will Darius Miles return to form and stick with the team? Will the rookies be as good as many expect them to be? How much better will Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins be this season to solidify the starting lineup? Will Perk's shoulder hold up for the whole season after the offseason surgery? How much better will Big Baby Davis and Leon Powe be this season? Can the team keep up the same defensive intensity they had last season throughout a second season in a row? Will the team be able to fill the gaps left by James Posey's departure? Will Tony Allen finally step up and become a solid contributor? Will they have the same motivation throughout the season as they had going after their first ring? And the biggest question of all, will the team be able to remain healthy throughout the season? Injuries can derail even the best team and so it is important that the Celtics remain healthy.
6. X-Factors: Positive: Darius Miles at 100%, Tony Allen finally reaching his potential and becoming a solid contributor, Rajon Rondo taking another step up into the upper echelon of point guards.
Negative: Perk's shoulder becoming a problem, all the fragile knees giving out, injury to any of the 3 stars, Patrick O'Bryant not panning out at center.